How About Smart Parking?

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, November 4, 2010

As I drove along U. S. Route 15 home the other day, I glanced in the rear view mirror to find what looked a like a Smart Car following me.

Smart cars, if you've never paid them any mind, are those teeny, tiny vehicles a couple of paces larger than a skateboard. The two-seater looks like half a vehicle.

As I gazed into the mirror, however, I was taken with a touch of envy.

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Weird, yes, to envy something so tiny when I'm cruising along in my comfy Dodge Intrepid. I have plenty of elbowroom, loads of power on the pick-up, and a smartly-sized (there goes that word again) trunk for groceries.

What more could a guy want?

Gas mileage for one thing. And, while my car doesn't perform badly, it would be so nice to drop a few pennies for liquid gold and go all week on mere fumes.

Yes, I was envious off the high mileage (I read somewhere that it's 40 mpgs, but needs the high octane stuff), but I was really thinking how easy it would be to park a Smart Car-a mere breeze to slip in and out of the most spaciously challenged places.

Truthfully, I'm not sure parking spaces are getting smaller, but perception counts for at least something.

Out of curiosity, I went on a little walkabout with tape measure in hand just to see how spacious things are.

We understand the parking space width for a standard size automobile is figured at nine-foot. I'm not terribly sure which is the best way to measure that-inside line to inside line, inside line to outside line, or outside line to outside line, so I often looked at the smallest and widest combination. (I'm not sure if it's like tennis and hitting the line means it's in. If that is the case, it could be troublesome if two drivers in adjacent spaces are each counting the same line.)

By and large, most fell within a few inches, but there was some level of inconsistency.

One, for example, tabulated nine feet outside line to outside line and eight foot four inches inside to inside. At another lot, I measured a space at eight foot eight and three quarters inches at the minimum and nine feet four and three quarters inches at it's greatest span.

At the post office, a diagonal parking spot measured nine feet two and a half inches at its greatest width, eight foot six inches at it minimum.

I guess the lack of uniformity is, well, an understandable constant considering there's a near equal lack of vehicle uniformity. I like my extended cab Dakota pick-up truck, but I essentially have to have a pull through parking spot. It drives nicely on the highway, but it has the turning radius of a dinosaur.

I make do, as we all do, with whatever space is available. I wonder, however, whether nine feet is really enough. My car measured at about 71 inches or five feet eleven inches from outside rear tire edge to tire edge. Yes, it's narrow enough to get into all of those spaces, but I like some comfort level that if the guy parking next to me doesn't get centered in his spot, I can still exit without sweating it.

Then, too, one must be cognizant of doors. Even with a nine-foot parking space width and everyone parking like they should, an open door still seems well within reach of an adjacent closed one.

Barring an empty space next to our parked vehicle, we're often left with the option of trying to squeeze through a half-open door when exiting and I'm not as thin as I used to be.

Which gets me back to the Smart Car. Or maybe one with top, hatch-like opening doors or cars that fly?

I'd just be happier with some bigger parking spaces.