2007 - 2022

Cities of the Future

In response to the climate crisis much of the British State’s response is to a) continue as if this isn’t really happening by investing in fossil fuels b) criminalise peaceful protest and dissent with draconian legislation.

The counter to this is going to be massive NVDA.

One fun new phenomenon is anonymous group ‘the Tyre Extinguisher’s’ who this week announced their ‘biggest night yet’ with simultaneous actions across different areas targeting the Grange (home to some of Scotland’s richest people), the New Town and Portobello.

A spokesperson for the Edinburgh Tyre Extinguishers said: “Politicians talk, we act. We will defend ourselves from air pollution, climate change and unsafe roads, and we urge others to join us. Edinburgh is a small city with good public transport. Nobody living in the centre of town needs to own one of these machines.”

The Tyre Extinguishers is a leaderless movement where anyone can take part, simply printing a leaflet off www.tyreextinguishers.com and
disarming SUVs wherever they are. The Tyre Extinguishers’ aim is to make it impossible to own an SUV in the world’s urban areas.
The group’s campaign is already having successes, with the Telegraph telling car owners not to buy SUVs in case they are targeted by Tyre Extinguishers:
It’s worth noting that the scale of what the group call ‘disarmament’ is an underestimate, as “not all Tyre Extinguisher groups have been in touch with Tyre Extinguishers HQ to say where and when they have taken action, and Tyre Extinguishers HQ only hear about their actions through angry emails from SUV drivers.”
For example, it appears Tyre Extinguishers actions have also taken place in the last week in Leith and Granton. Due to the leaderless nature of the movement, it is unknown how many people are taking action throughout the city, but it appears to be significant and growing.

This is a significant development because it targets the very wealthy and takes direct action against high-polluting, dangerous and completely unnecessary vanity vehicles. No doubt the owners will be completely raging but they are also completely impotent to do anything about it.

This is a new manifestation of the battle for that cities are – who they are for – and how they function. This is a universal question about urban life but also one that has a particular focus in Edinburgh, a city that has been commodified, gentrified and subject to extensive social cleansing. This direct action is just the latest example of people attempting to reclaim their city.
We need to (re) design cities for people not cars and completely (re) think cities for an ecological future. Banning gas guzzlers and ‘Chelsea Tractors’ may be a minor first step but it’s a symbolic one.
The Tyre Extinguisher’s campaign isn’t just an essential piece of climate action it’s about reclaiming the city from the rich. Climate Justice is social justice.
The Tyre Extinguishers say: “We want to see bans on SUVs in urban areas, pollution levies to tax SUVs out of existence, and massive investment in free, comprehensive public transport. But until politicians make this a reality, Tyre Extinguishers action will continue.”

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Comments (23)

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  1. john maxwell norman macleod says:

    I have no idea what an NVDA is

    1. Non Violent Direct Action

  2. Derek says:

    I wanted to do it with road tax; have your standard at £100 per year for a “nominal car” weighing 1000kg and having a 1000cc engine. You then use these as multipliers, so a 2500kg SUV with a 5000cc engine would be charged £1000 per year. I suggested it ages ago; never even had a reply.

    I also think that we need to stop the sale of new petrol and diesel cars sooner rather than later. This makes these cars a finite resource, and one that’s only going to decrease.

    The current fashion in road design isn’t helping anything either; funnelling everything into narrow spaces – with no alternatives – creates problems when roadworks come along. On that subject, I notice that the tram tracks are becoming noisy on curves and bumpy, presumably where they’ve been welded. That’ll be fun to fix, given that the tracks’re concreted in.

    Get yer valve core tools out, but leave the cores on the vehicle – or it’s theft…

    1. Niemand says:

      Yeah good argument. Though tax does vary a fair bit now and it is linked to power. A 2.0L has a much higher tax than a 1.2L and different size 1.2Ls also vary. But you are right, the differentials could be much bigger.

  3. Niemand says:

    I agree with the sentiment of this wholeheartedly – great big Chelsea tractors not only gas-guzzling but clogging / blocking often old narrow streets to the detriment of just about everyone else, including other road users. But I would also say plenty of non-SUVs can be just as bad, and smaller SUVs not bad at all (relatively speaking).

    So how do you define an SUV? Some called that are actually quite small and as fuel efficient as a ‘normal’ car. On their website they talk of ‘huge polluting 4x4s’ but also link to info about ‘SUVs’ where they define them solely as: ‘High ground clearance (greater distance between the ground and the chassis of the car), Taller than most other cars, Coarser or larger tires than normal’.

    But height and tyre type is not that good a gauge as lots of vehicles can be quite high – it is the width, length and capacity that matters (many smaller SUVs are just 1.2L like any smaller car) and plenty of non-SUVs (i.e. not higher off the ground and/or higher sided) are longer, just as wide as an SUV and equally bad gas guzzlers. So there is confusion here between, size, polluting quality, vehicle type. This isn’t hair-splitting as you need people on board with this concept and if it seems arbitrary and unfair you won’t get it.

    1. Well, maybe. The reality is its really quite popular …

  4. Wul says:

    If someone stabbed the tyres on my car (which recently cost me £400+) I would certainly consider it an act of violence, rather than “non-violence”. If I caught them in the act, I would probably respond with some direct action of my own.

    I suspect that this type of “direct action” attracts people who mainly want to slash car tyres rather than save the planet. They will mostly be young, white, male, British, privileged and, in a few years time (after uni) will be buying expensive, planet-harming consumer crap (including shiny electric cars) of their own.

    I drive a 4×4 SUV. It is over ten years old and runs on petrol. It is all I can afford. I need a 4×4 in order to pull 2-tonne trailer loads of (low-carbon) Scottish timber out of muddy woodlands and to my work sites, where it will be turned into hand-made buildings which lock up carbon dioxide. My SUV is frequently parked in Edinburgh. I also use it to ferry my 90 year-old dad (who is incontinent, demented and cannot walk) and his bulky wheelchair and rollator to his various medical and day-centre appointments.

    I’d be happy to be banned from Edinburgh. I hate driving there. It is an overheated theme park.

    1. They don’t slash the tyres. Nobody slashes the tyres.

      1. 220525 says:

        Tyres are gey hard to slash. It’s easier to drive a nail down through the valve.

        I don’t really see the point of just letting the tyres down. That’s not much of an inconvenience.

        1. I think the point – despite the hyperbole – is that ‘it’s not much of an inconvenience’ – and also crucially is harder to prosecute.

          1. 220526 says:

            Yeah, well, obviously the trick is to not get caught. That’s the best way of avoiding prosecution.

            Just letting down tyres seems a bit tame, a bit of a prank.

      2. Wul says:

        “They don’t slash the tyres”

        Ah well, that’s a bit different. Not so bad then. Getting myself worked up needlessly! I always have a foot pump, instant tyre-weld repair can and tubeless tyre repair kit in the boot.

        I could start a wee mobile business, driving round with a compressor offering to re-inflate “extinguished” SUV’s tyres for a fat fee (they can afford it). Ask the vandals to drop off one off my leaflets at the same time as their own. Or just cut out the middle men and do my own tyre-extinguishing and then ride to the rescue to re-inflate. After all, “A man’s first duty is to provide for his family” as a corrupt Tory politician recently announced.

  5. SleepingDog says:

    I am reminded both of the Simpsons’ Canyonero, and the Leo Tolstoy short story How Much Land Does a Man Need? Killer excess, devil’s bargain (and Joni Mitchell’s lyric “And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden”). In a true commonwealth, there would not be people exceeding planetary boundaries and indulging in acts of petty lordship. If they do, expect thorns in their path. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Temptation_of_Krust#Canyonero

  6. 220525 says:

    I like their style. I manage fine without a car, even out in the deepest sticks. There’s no need for a lot of them.

    I must say, however, that, in my experience, drivers, motorcyclists, horse-drawn vehicles, horse riders, and cyclists still haven’t mastered the new ‘hierarchy of road users’, which gives priority to pedestrians. Hardly a day goes by when someone from further down the pecking order expects me to give way to them when they’re turning into a road I’m crossing or waiting to cross and gets all shirty when I don’t. B*st*rds!

    1. Wul says:

      I’d happily see all cars banned. I hate the money guzzling, smelly, planet-harming things.

      We used to be a “two car family” until we realised we still have the same disposable income and raise our kids better if we ditched one of the cars and worked part-time, at different ends of the week. Then a move to a small house near a train station reduced oil consumption and need for money further still. Started shopping by bike. Bought land to grow timber and have free holidays on…

      Eventually, I’ll be sitting naked in a field, eating home-grown veg with no possessions, but utter freedom. That’s the plan anyway ; 0 )

      1. 220527 says:

        I’d buy a car if I needed one, but I’ve found I don’t need one since I retired. I’ve a good pair of legs and a bus pass.

        Likewise, I’d buy an avocado in Aldi’s if I had to, but I’m more or less self-sufficient in fruit & veg.

        And while I don’t run about in the buff, I have been known to roll up my trouser-legs and sit with my feet in the burn on a warm day.

    2. Derek says:

      As a user of various modes of transport (from pedestrian to van driver – no ‘orses tho’), from a primarily two-wheeled point of view I’d say that it’s important to make eye contact whenever possible. There’s a lot of communication to be had from simple gestures – and that applies to all road users.

      1. 220527 says:

        Indeed, a hard stare is often worth a thousand words.

  7. John O'Rourke says:

    Our obsession with cars has reached the point of absurdity.
    Here in West Lothian at certain times of the day the roads are gridlocked. Every street has bumper to bumper parked cars. There are very few front gardens left. They have disappeared under slabs and mono block to accommodate vehicles.
    Everyone complains about traffic and lack of parking spaces but wouldn’t consider getting rid of their car. I know a man who just spent a years wages on a new car despite living within walking distance of work and his owning a car.
    How bad will things get bofore we change our attitude to cars?

    1. 220527 says:

      Such cars as your neighbour bought aren’t absurd; they fulfil the function of a trophy. They serve as a tangible, durable reminder of specific achievement and evidence of merit. (‘I’m a success; see what I can afford!’).

      Trophies are important in a meritocratic society like Scotland, both subjectively in terms of our feeling good about ourselves and objectively in terms of the conspicuous consumption that drives economic growth in late capitalism.

      As long ago as 1899, the anti-capitalist, Thorstein Veblen, theorised our contemporary socio-economic behaviours of conspicuous consumption and conspicuous leisure as survival of the predatory, pre-capitalist stage of human development. Whereas, before, we’d parade the body parts of our vanquished foes in demonstration of our virility, we nowadays parade our SUVs and the like.

      I suppose that’s progress – barbarity monetised (a definition of bourgeois civilisation)!

  8. Colin Mackay says:

    More of this and while we’re at it, making stickers and supergluing them to people’s cars with a polite message when they park like arseholes is a good idea. 😉 In all seriousness, car culture self entitlement has been completely out of control in Scotland for decades and desperately needs addressed.

    1. 220527 says:

      Cars that have been inconsiderately parked have been known to be keyed.

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