Fight the power ... steering
GOVERNMENTS and councils around Australia have tried all kinds of tricks to reduce urban traffic: pedestrian malls, increased parking fines, monorails, you name it.
These tactics mostly just push traffic somewhere else, thereby shifting the problem instead of fixing it. But let’s play a little game of Transport Dictator and consider what might happen if we acted on a recent column from Brian Sewell, art critic at London’s Evening Standard.
‘‘ Power steering is the curse that enables little women to drive large cars,’’ he writes. ‘‘ Without it, London would never have needed a congestion charge.’’
Ignore Sewell’s unforgivable sexism and imagine how Australia would be transformed by a simple power steering ban. For a start, there’d be no more fleets of SUVs dropping off kids at schools. Only the brawniest of fellows could pilot anything like a Kia Sorento that didn’t have assisted steering.
Smaller cars, too, become unwieldy without power assist. It wouldn’t be much fun dragging a current front-driver through town were it not for boosted steering.
Traffic congestion would be ended immediately. Modern soft folk can’t cope with physical effort and might even prefer to walk. Another possible benefit: the Australian car industry would be reinvigorated by the need to produce lightweight, easily manoeuvred cars.
There you have it. So many problems solved at once. You’re welcome, Australia.
A TRACK day looms with some of Australia’s fastest V8 Supercar drivers. If ever you get the chance to be belted into one of these machines and be catapulted around a circuit by someone who is gifted at driving them, always say yes.
These events have changed a little over the years. In the late 1980s, Dick Johnson hosted a press day at Victoria’s Sandown circuit where he demonstrated the awesome car control needed to tame a turbo Ford Sierra. No insurance forms were signed. No race suit was required. We simply put on a borrowed helmet and got in to the passenger seat.
Dick wasn’t playing around, either. My own lap aboard the 600hp Sierra was barely outside the then-lap record, and featured just one audible comment from the Bathurst-winning Queenslander. ‘‘ Once it hits 5000rpm, all hell breaks loose,’’ he said, at which point he was proved entirely correct.
Today’s track days are more mindful of insurance and liability and involve substantial paperwork. All hell, however, continues to break loose.
Pedestrian proposition: Lack of power steering might propel people out of cars, ending the school-run traffic jam