Sport utility vehicles, commonly called SUVs, tend to stir mixed emotions in drivers and pedestrians alike—some argue they feel safer behind the wheel of one while others see them as a gas-guzzling, environment-destroying status symbol on wheels.
The City of Prague seems to have firmly established itself in the latter camp with the launch today of a new campaign that would discourage auto owners in the Czech Republic from purchasing SUVs.
The campaign is part of a citywide initiative (Čistou Stopou Prahou, or “Neat Prague”) which aims to supply consumers with the kind of information about SUV ownership that is not typically part of a car dealer’s pitch.
According to a press statement from City Hall, “The biggest air polluter in Prague is road traffic. SUVs and coaches in terms of ecology are among the worst due to their poorer aerodynamics and generally higher engine capacity.”
The initiative also cites safety concerns, not just emissions rates:
“Despite the high bumper of an SUV you cannot see a small child in front of the car and you have difficulty finding a parking space while on the street your vehicle takes up more space than a classic combi,” said Deputy Mayor for Transport Dolínek.
Given the cries of “Nanny State” that arose following the city’s last attempt to regulate Old Town traffic—Prague 1 recently announced a ban on cyclists in the city center—Dolínek clarified the project’s intent:
“In any case, we do not want to dictate what car you should buy. We just want to provide people with information, including on the far side of the SUV phenomenon, that decisions could include more arguments,” he said.