The mission of the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s is to inform and unite groups of concerned citizens across the United Kingdom against the growing presence of 4x4 vehicles in urban areas.
The Alliance seeks to educate people about the environmental and social damage caused by the increasing numbers of urban 4x4s as well as promote sustainable forms of transport.
We will lobby for increases in congestion charges and road taxes for 4x4s and seek a ban on advertising in the mainstream media.
All our campaiging activities are designed to be peaceful, creative, eye-catching and constructive. We want to engage urban car drivers in the debate and not demonise drivers of big 4x4s. Everyone wants to have a safer, cleaner environment, so we hope urban 4x4 drivers will realise that their car is the villain - not them - and we want to help them make better choices in future.
A small number of 4x4s are available that have safety features and carbon emissions that are less damaging than most, and we hope that these will be chosen by people who genuinely need a 4x4.
However, most big 4x4s are highly polluting and very dangerous to others on the road, and we will carry on campaigning until these cars are no longer marketed to or bought by people with no need to drive off-road, tow heavy loads, or other activities for which 4x4s are designed.
The cars we want out of our towns and cities
We would like to make it clear exactly what it is we are campaigning against.
We aren't concerned about four-wheel drive in itself, and we certainly aren't after the little Fiat Panda.
The 'big 4x4s' we talk about are four-wheel-drive, off-road vehicles with large engines, high ground-clearance and a tall, boxy shape (see graphic for the basic features).
This type of design, and the extra weight that goes with it, leads to a very poor vehicle for use by families and in city streets for a number of reasons.
Why this design is bad for fuel efficiency and pollution
For a given amount of internal space, an off-roader body means that the vehicle ends up much taller and larger than would be the case for a saloon, estate car or even people carrier. Combined with the extra transmission equipment and tougher suspension and chassis needed for four-wheel-drive off-roading, this produces a much heavier vehicle.
A heavier vehicle needs a bigger engine to achieve the same performance as a lighter car, which will in general produce more pollution per mile (including carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, unburnt hydrocarbons and particulates).
Diesel models are popular among 4x4 owners because they are less thirsty. However, while diesel engines produce less carbon dioxide, they give out greater amounts of the other pollutants, which can make them even more harmful to the people around them.
Why this design is bad for safety
The extra weight of 4x4s automatically makes them more of a danger to other road users when they are involved in a collision. From basic mechanics we know the kinetic energy of a vehicle, which needs to be dissipated in a crash, is proportional to its mass.
However, the unique problem with the off-roader shape is that this extra weight is combined with additional height. Higher bumpers and mismatched crumple zones lead to extra dangers to pedestrians, cyclists, people in smaller cars and the occupants of the big 4x4s themselves. While cars like luxury saloons and MPVs are heavy too, they don't suffer from the appalling design faults of 4x4s in this respect.
The inertia, high centre of gravity and sluggish handling of many 4x4s may also make it harder to avoid a collision.
Here are a few examples of the kind of 4x4 models we want new regulations to address, and some other vehicles for comparison.
Alternative vehicles for comparison
NB: On average a bus carries the same number of people as 30 cars in one-tenth of the road space. (Average car occupancy is 1.6 persons)
*all from www.vcacarfueldata.org.uk