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A City Fights Back Against Heavyweight Cars

Oversized pickups and SUVs are exacting a deadly toll on urban streets. Here’s how one US city plans to push back. 

A 2020 Silverado HD pickup truck at the GM assembly plant in Flint, Michigan, in 2020. Owners of vehicles like this that weigh more than 6,000 pounds will face additional fees in Washington, D.C. 

A 2020 Silverado HD pickup truck at the GM assembly plant in Flint, Michigan, in 2020. Owners of vehicles like this that weigh more than 6,000 pounds will face additional fees in Washington, D.C. 

Photographer: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg

Imagine that you, a city resident, are contemplating swapping out your mid-sized sedan for a full-sized pickup truck. And not just any pickup truck; your eye has fallen upon a heavy-duty one, like the Chevy Silverado HD or the Ford F-250. These are machines intended for towing and hauling, but they’re increasingly popular as passenger vehicles in the US, despite their massive proportions. At 6,695 pounds, the F-250 is 23 inches taller and more than twice as heavy as a Honda Accord.

Such oversized vehicles exacerbate problems across all kinds of communities, but none more so than dense urban neighborhoods full of pedestrians and cyclists. Driving a large pickup or SUV increases the likelihood you’ll kill or injure someone; its thirsty power plant (the F-250 gets 15 mpg) spews more air pollution and greenhouse emissions.