We have never been fond of big SUVs and LTVs (light trucks and vans), the gas-guzzling space-stealing monoliths that seem out of place in the country but are so popular in the cities these days. In New York it seems that everyone is chauffeured around in them, big Escalades, Navigators and Lexi. Pedestrians are like flies on a windshield when they get hit by these, their hoods and grills are like walls. Really, they are so dangerous, three times as likely to kill as a car, that they should not be allowed in cities.
And apparently in New York City they are not even legal, if you ever plan on driving one over the Brooklyn Bridge. It has a 3 ton weight limit, and as Will Sabel Courtney of The Drive points out, the popular pickups and SUVs all exceed this. Big pickups aren't a thing in Manhattan but the Escalades are everywhere. However Courtney notes that "the N.Y.P.D. officers situated at each end of the bridge don’t seem bothered." Neither is anyone else:
Like the Navigator, upgrading to the extended-wheelbase Escalade and you’ll top the Brooklyn Bridge’s weight cap. Yet the ESV tends to be the ‘Slade of choice among New York’s livery car drivers, which means many of those trips that bankers take from Wall Street to their Brooklyn Heights brownstones are illegal. (Then again, it may be the least illegal thing they do all day. Zing!)
Other vehicles are surprisingly close, fancy expensive cars like Bentleys and Landrovers and Porsche Cayennes, where the weight of the passengers and the groceries put them over the top.
But the biggest surprise of all: the new Tesla Model X, has a curb weight that is under 6,000 pounds but in fact has a real GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of 6,768 pounds. This is a feature, not a bug; vehicles over 6,000 pounds or three tons are considered work vehicles, not cars, and actually qualify for what used be be called the Hummer Loophole, a $ 25,000 tax credit. And indeed, a Tesla rep told Autoblog Green: "Yes, the curb weight of Model X is 5,441 lbs. So we expect the GVWR to exceed 6,000 lbs. This means a Section 179 deduction could be taken for to up to $25,000 of the purchase price."
I am not certain Tesla thought about this when they decided to locate their big new showroom in Brooklyn.
Over on Jalopnik, Rafael Orlove thinks that it is time to enforce the law. "So I would like to take this moment to remind the NYPD that they should feel free to fine, arrest, or PIT maneuver any Tesla Model X driver they see on the bridge." I don't think they should be picked on; why not enforce the law for all the Bridge Scofflaws, all the SUVs and black cabs that exceed three tons. It's the law.
This isn't a new issue, either; Streetsblog covered it a decade ago. A commenter published the applicable laws:
Section 4-15 (b)(13):
"Weight and height restrictions on bridges, viaducts and other structures. No person shall operate or move a vehicle or combination of vehicles over, on or through any bridge, viaduct or other structures on any highway if the weight of such vehicle or combination of vehicles and load is greater than the posted capacity of the structure or exceeds the height of the posted clearance as shown by an official sign or other marking or device."
Section 4-15 (c):
"Enforcement, measurement and weight of vehicles. Any law enforcement officer or any inspector of the Department of Consumer Affairs of the City of New York having reason to believe that any vehicle or load is in violation of the restrictions in subdivision(b), above, is authorized to stop the vehicle on any public highway or private street open to public motor vehicle traffic and measure and weigh it by means of portable or stationary measures and scales. Any law enforcement officer or such inspector may require that the vehicle be driven to the nearest scales, if they are within 3 miles."