Time lapse of terrible parking lot

I’m with you on the Fit (Jazz in Europe or Australia) - it’s easily the most space-efficient car I’ve ever encountered. The only knock for me is that mine is the second-generation version, whose seats aren’t as versatile as the first- and third-generation versions. Still, with the rear seats folded down, the cargo area is downright cavernous.

I finally got my air bag fixed the other day, and was finally able to peel off the “FRONT TOWARD ENEMY” sticker I’d placed on the steering wheel.

There is a situation where I wouldn’t mind having a Smart, though: when some d-bag takes up two parking spaces because he’s entitled to because he’s driving a fancy car. A Smart would nicely slot in, just inches from his driver’s side door, and still occupy only one space.


They look like lousy drivers, rather than a bad parking lot. I could get my '58 Chevy wagon, with no power steering, into those spaces without all that mucking about.


I feel if I have to use a “this is a joke” tag, I shouldn’t post it. Look, back in the last century I used to work with people in Kentucky who had serious trucks - 7.2 liter [sic] hemi engines, often with Biblical bumper stickers. One of them actually needed his for his on the side business, for the others it was about display and competition. They were nice people who hadn’t had the advantage of my expensive liberal European education and had got their degrees from community college. Did I look down on them? No, I assure you. I respected them as colleagues who were often much better to work with than the folks back home, and were hospitable to a benighted pinko weirdo. I was also well aware that their supplies of rather heavy armament were never likely to be pointed in my direction. The cultural thing we had in common was that none of us drank alcohol, which meant that life was actually much easier for me than back in the UK where not drinking made you seriously weird.
I’ve also worked with car workers in Illinois, engineers in Chicago, salespeople all over. I’ve negotiated deals with people from Arizona to Newport News. I’ve worked with academics from several US universities. I have family on the East Coast, the West Coast and in Utah. I respect the great diversity of the US; I don’t assume all Americans are the same any more than I would do with the French, Germans, Italians, and Swiss {OK, perhaps not the Swiss] I have had to do with in Europe.
So please cut me a little slack. If I can’t make a little joke about Abrams tanks without being accused of being culturally bigoted, I shall have to join UKIP and spend the rest of my days pretending that Johnny Foreigner really wants a good talking to by the Blessed Nigel and will then admit his inferiority and give us whatever we want. And you wouldn’t want that, surely?




I don’t have a Smart - though when replacement of city car time comes round again I might be tempted by the new Brabus - but I do have an interest in transportation.
I’ve driven enough in various parts of the US to understand the arms race that I jokingly alluded to above [ but obviously not with enough signalling]. US large trucks and driving standards are nightmarish and I can easily understand why people want to surround themselves with plenty of metal. But isn’t it the case that a variety of factors are increasing the population of and density of “urban cores” (inner cities is an expression that doesn’t cross the Atlantic)? If 30% of Americans don’t live in cities, that means 70% do; and if only one percent of those have a congested 30 minute commute, that’s still 2 million potential customers for space efficient road vehicles. When you start at 300 million, niche can be a pretty big number.
Ideally self driving cars will fix this whole problem, because if utilisation can be increased by getting people onto unmanned taxis, the number of vehicles (and the number parked) will go down. Without the fixed overhead of a driver, too, the size of self driving vehicles can vary from, say, two to ten seats. If it’s true that the average number of people per passenger vehicle is around 1.6, the cost benefits to a fleet of operating small vehicles is obvious.
I’m well aware that Smarts are not fuel efficient; in order to be so short, they have a high Cd. The Toyota IQ actually has a higher wind resistance than a Prius which is half as long again, simply because it is possible to do so much more with aerodynamics. However, taking passenger numbers into consideration, its lifecycle cost can still be considerably lower per passenger mile simply due to less initial energy to manufacture. (There is also the factor that IC engines benefit from continuous use due to reduction in temperature cycling and corrosion.)
The cost of urban parking lots tends to be high per square foot, so from a fleet point of view if part of the lot can be designed for 3M or 4M class vehicles, that too is a major factor in operating cost. Which is where we came in on this thread…I’ve been teaching this evening, it seems to cause prolixity. Sorry.


Actually, I might pay to see that :smile:

A story for you.

I grew up in a small town in Texas full of pick-up trucks with gun racks that, oddly, was a great place to ride bicycles. Back then, the Texas highway department placed great value on well-maintained shoulders, which we cyclists repurposed as inter-city bike lanes.

For obvious reason of self-preservation, I got very good at assessing threat levels of the drivers rushing by. I’ve had beer bottles tossed at me from pickup trucks - twice. Old ladies in Lincoln’s were the worst. They couldn’t grasp that anyone over the age of twelve would ride a bicycle down the street, so they became creeping menaces with their well-meaning “think of the children” driving style.

One clear rule: a middle-aged woman in a GM Suburban is a very good driver. She probably started on tractor when she was 8 and can handle that behemoth down a dirt road or a slick highway better than most Moto-Cross riders.

and then the Suburban craze hit. Suddenly, housewives who’d never driven anything bigger than a Chevy Malibu were piloting three ton hunks of steel at highway speeds while applying another layer of Mary Kay cosmetics.

Absolutely. Terrifying.

So yeah, I understand your observation that many Americans are drawn to ridiculously large vehicles-- that impulse has nearly gotten me killed more than once.


Great Reply. Thanks

That “70% live in cities” includes a lot of folks in “small towns.” But still, the median American is in a suburb that definitely counts as “urban”, but probably to low of a population density for mass transit to be even remotely feasible.

I am not sure what you mean by “space efficient road vehicles.” The size of the car has (almost) nothing to do with the density on the freeway. Even at rush hour, the gaps between the cars are larger than the cars themselves. ( this changes somewhere around 10-20 mph).

Which brings us to a point violent agreement:

Ideally self driving cars will fix this whole problem

Yep. When cars can travel in close platoons inside human reaction times, whether by front-scanning radar hooked directly to the throttle and brakes, or with peer-to-peer communication between the cars, freeway capacity and fuel efficiency will go up dramatically.

Anywhere form 1.5 times to more than theee times more freeway capacity, depending whose numbers one uses.

If the cars drive off on their own to help the next soul, a la Uber, way less parking is need, of any size. That also dramatically increses utilization rates, so all sorts of other efficiencies start to kick in.

In the meantime, those SmartCars are cute as button and actually pretty safe. My wife thought she wanted one until she drove one. Now she has her heart set on an Audi A3 plug-in hybrid.



Land Rovers do.

Road vehicles spend most of their time parked, and that includes when they are parked rather close together in traffic jams. I agree that when everything is moving vehicle size is almost immaterial, but many cars are, basically, static 23 hours out of 24. Two smarts can fit into a single US parking space. (In fact, I know someone who used to live in inner London who had a running battle with the council because he and his wife had a Smart each and he argued that as they occupied one on street parking space, they should only pay for one.)


Reminds me of this.


You made me chuckle at that one.

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Cars, schmars. It’s human souls we’re bothered about.


I’ll have you know that my skin is regulation thickness.


That one just makes me wish temporarily there was a diety who could just reach down from the heavens and right that car to end the suffering.


Considering all parking lots are based on the Inferno (Circle 6, subsection d: interchanges, car parks and other manifestations of infernal combustion) - I’d say that one’s soul is very much in play…


I had a rather unpleasant experience once parking somewhat illegally during christmas season at a mall. I ran in to buy a book, come out to find someone in one of those monster “Subdivision” sized SUVs mad at me because he thought he couldn’t get out, even though I specifically made sure to leave him enough room (when doing illegal things I always try to be considerate about it). While he hurled me a sarcastic “so much for christmas spirit” or something, I was thinking to myself 1) I didn’t force you to drive a tank in an urban environment and 2) if you are, actually learn how to drive your fucking vehicle. Somehow his lack of spatial awareness of his own car was supposed to be my problem, or else he was so caught up in “but… but…but…but you’re parked illegally!” that he didn’t notice he could just drive away no prob.


That’s basically why I never gave the Smart Car a second look last time we shopped for a car. If I’m making sacrifices in space and comfort, I expect a little more payoff than that. And same goes for the Fit really, for such a great little car it still doesn’t get the mpg it should for the size. Especially knowing that these cars were being sold in Europe with much better fuel efficiency.