If you were made to choose between a cheap electric scooter and a shiny, flashy, powerful sports utility vehicle, which would you pick to be your everyday auto?
You would think that the answer was obvious, but when you live in a city like Rome, London or New York where the streets are considerably narrower, the traffic is heavy and finding a spacious parking spot can take up half of the day, then the tiny electric bike looks far more attractive than a monster SUV.
While many say that sports utility vehicles’ popularity will only continue to grow, many have started eschewing them for what motoring experts like Washington Post’s car columnist Warren Brown call the "city friendly" vehicles. Local governments in European cities like Paris and Athens have even mulled over the possibility of banning the vehicle (according to a French deputy mayor, the government has "no interest in having SUVs in the city. They're dangerous to others and take up too much space".)
What exactly makes an automobile the perfect vehicle for the city?
To be a true city car, a vehicle’s built and features must be suited to the conditions in the city. This means that first, it should be small enough to be able to quickly find and easily fit the smaller parking spots that are prevalent in cities. When you are in the city, you are also likely to find yourself parking in the streets more often than you would want, so being compact means that your vehicle can avoid being a regular victim of sideswiping by other cars.
Aside from being small, a "city friendly" car has to be easy to maneuver and have great handling capabilities. This would make it easier to navigate the narrow cobble streets of London or Manhattan’s packed avenues.
The large number of vehicles that flood the city streets also make traffic jams a common, okay, a constant occurrence in urban areas. These circumstances lead motorists to step on the brakes and accelerate more often than normal, thus causing the cars to consume more fuel and energy. Considering today’s soaring gas prices (the average price of a gallon of gas in the U.S. is $3), choosing a fuel-efficient hybrid or scooter is not only environmentally responsible it is also financially sound.
Admittedly, driving city-friendly vehicles does have its drawbacks. Scooters for example, are comparable to motorcycle dirt bikes in the sense that they would never be able to provide you with a smooth, bump-free ride. Compact and hybrid cars on the other hand cannot equal the comfort a plush and spacious SUV can provide. But the fact that driving in the city tend to involve only short distances, then the less spacious legroom and occasional bump are pretty good trade offs for the many benefits of driving a city-friendly vehicle.