Rutland columnist Allan Grey shares his views on Range Rovers
Dear Range Rover Alliance, East Midlands Branch
I am known amongst my friends and acquaintances as a keen cyclist, but sadly many road users have a significant antipathy toward us cyclists, although for the devil in me I can’t think why, we don’t take up that much space. It is also common knowledge that I have a slight antipathy toward large SUVs and in particular the ubiquitous Range Rover, not however as a cyclist, but as a pedestrian. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but my two near death experiences with Range Rovers have occurred not whilst out cycling, but whilst walking on the pavements of Oakham High Street.
Firstly, it is only right and proper that we should recognise that these magnificent vehicles are designed, engineered and manufactured by Jaguar-Land Rover in the United Kingdom, and if anything commends the capability of British designers and engineers to global consumers, then it’s the Range Rover. I understand that following a £1bn investment from their parent company Tata, 80 per cent of the Range Rover Evoques built at the Halewood plant get exported, a true British success story if ever there was.
More pertinently however, a paragraph from the Jaguar-Land Rover website states: “The new Range Rover Evoque is a technology revolution; its compact footprint, at just 4.37m long, will make the new Evoque the go-to luxury city SUV. An entirely new architecture delivers Range Rover refinement, with agile on-road handling and world class off-road capability.”
Now, call me a pedant, but it’s the ‘world class off-road capability’ that I believe many Evoque drivers haven’t fully understood, or indeed wilfully misinterpret. If the Evoque is a luxury ‘city’ SUV, the only bits of most cities that are ‘off-road’ are the pavements, the pedestrian precincts, the parks, there aren’t many rolling fields, large farms, and gravel tracks in Chelsea and Knightsbridge that need ‘world class off-road capability’.
Here in Rutland, a largely rural county, the many farmers and land owners need off-road vehicles to access their crops and their livestock, but let me ask you this, how many farmers do you see rounding up their sheep in a Evoque, or ferrying bales of hay out to their cattle in an Evoque, or carrying new fencing materials in an Evoque? No, Range Rover Evoques are ‘in town’ vehicles, school run vehicles, morning hair appointment vehicles, meeting friends for skinny chai latte vehicles. This explains why the drivers of these magnificent vehicles park on the pavement, they’re not farmers, they don’t own any sheep, and probably very little fencing that ever needs mending, however they still need to get the thrill of the off-road experience, and Oakham High Street, sadly is as good as anywhere.
I can only conclude that there’s a desperate need for getting a message across to your members, maybe something along the lines of: “Stay on the Road, Protect Pedestrian Spaces, Save Lives.”
Surviving Oakham pedestrian
Dear Mr Grey
I have been prompted to write in response to your recent letter. You seem to be completely unaware of the great work being carried out by the Range Rover Alliance to promote the “Shared Space” initiative.
You may well be familiar with the situation in countries like the USA, where pedestrians can only legally cross the street at a controlled “crosswalk”. Failure to comply results in a prosecution and a fine for “jaywalking”. I am pleased to say that in this country we continue to operate a system of “shared space” where pedestrians can cross the street at their convenience at any point. Of course the system must work both ways in which suitably designed cars, of which I am proud to say the Range Rover is the leading example globally, can and should share the space on pavements with pedestrians. This system results in maximum efficiency in the use of public space and people’s time.
Only the other day in your fair town of Oakham I was driving my brand new Range Rover Evoque when I saw an elderly lady carrying heavy shopping bags, crossing the road in front of me. Having given two loud blasts on my horn, to ensure she knew I was there, I was shocked to see she made absolutely no effort to speed up her walk across the street, resulting in me having to slow down to almost 29mph. As I approached I rolled down my window to politely ask why she couldn’t walk any faster and I received not a civil reply, as I expected, but an aloof stare. This is the sort of unacceptable behaviour that undermines the whole concept of “Shared Space” which the Range Rover Alliance is trying to promote.
I trust this clarifies the issue of pavement parking for you and that in future you will help us in our drive to make our towns and cities more efficient and convenient for Range Rover drivers (and others).
Chairman, Range Rover Alliance, East Midlands Branch
With the implications of this letter greatly on my mind, I was walking into town with a friend the other night, to a Lions meeting as it happens, down Brooke Road, coming up to the lights at the end of Mill Street, when I’m aware of a vehicle, coming up behind us, slowing to our walking speed, a big black vehicle, crikey it’s a large Range Rover, I bet it wants to share my pavement space. The passenger window goes down, and I think it could be a drive by shooting, I think my time might have come, the Range Rover Alliance taking their revenge, I’m bricking it.
But no, it’s a fellow Lion, offering us a lift the last few yards to our meeting. Thanks, but no thanks, I have my reputation to consider, I’d never live it down.