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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

SUV Tickets

Air Date: Week of January 4, 2002

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It? hard enough to find parking in New York City, but a group of environmental activists is making it even harder for sport utility vehicles. They?e handing out tickets, albeit fake, to SUV owners. Host Diane Toomey talks with Carrie McLaren, editor of Stay Free! Magazine and head of this ticket-tagging team.

Transcript

TOOMEY: You're listening to NPR's Living on Earth. SUV owners in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, New York, now have a nemesis besides the meter maid. Recently, a patrol of eight people have started ticketing SUV's there for, well, just being SUV's. The tickets aren't real but their message is. Carrie McLaren, publisher
of "Stay Free" magazine and head of this ticketing team, joins me now from her office in Brooklyn. Ms. McLaren, welcome to Living on Earth.

McLAREN: Hi, thanks, it's good to be here.

TOOMEY: Ms. McLaren, tell me how this works. You first put up fake "No SUV" parking signs in your neighborhood, right?

McLAREN: Exactly.

TOOMEY: And then what happened?

McLAREN: Well, then, after we put up the signs we went around and put a ticket on every SUV that was in those areas.

TOOMEY: Were there a lot of SUV's?

McLAREN: There were a lot more than we had expected. We made a little over 600 tickets and we ran out, so we didn't even get to finish the neighborhood that we were planning on ticketing.

TOOMEY: What were some of the violations that you printed on your fake tickets?

McLAREN: We had things like "Increasing U.S. Reliance on Foreign Oil," "Conspicuous Consumption," "Endangering Other Drivers," that sort of thing.

TOOMEY: What are some of the penalties for these violations that you've come up with?

McLAREN: We put things like, you know, "You have to go green for your next car"; "You have to use your SUV for car pools only, and donate money to environmental causes." Those were the ones we circled.

TOOMEY: The tickets looked quite real, didn't they?

McLAREN: Yeah. The look of them looked exactly like the New York parking ticket, but we tried to make it as clear as possible on the text that it was a joke and that they didn't owe any money or have to send anything in. It was just a little activist message that we were trying to get out.

TOOMEY: And did your neighbors take it in the light-hearted jovial way you meant it?

McLAREN: Well, no. And I was actually a little surprised at how mad--I mean, we expected people to get mad, but I didn't expect the people get as mad as they did. I mean, we put a Web address on the tickets for where people could leave some feedback, so we had some SUV drivers post things. Someone called us "terrorists." Someone wrote, in a sort of New York dialect, where he said, "If you toucha my car, I breaka your face.

TOOMEY: Ms. McLaren, how did you come up with this idea?

McLAREN: I was reading in the newspapers about how people have become just more interested in buying SUV's after 9/11, and it struck me because one of the problems is our reliance on foreign oil, and SUV's are big gas guzzlers. And the patriotic response is to be more conservative with the fuel that they use, so that we aren't so reliant on these other countries. And after I had read about this I was walking around my neighborhood and noticed on a couple of streets that SUV's were pretty much almost bumper-to-bumper. I said, "Oh, it would be great to put a "No SUV" parking sign there. Our streets would be empty."

TOOMEY: Carey McLaren is publisher of "Stay Free" magazine and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Thanks for joining us today.

McLAREN: Thank you.

 

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