I used to be a big fan of the Smart car. Back in 2000 or so, when the Hummer and newly-released Escalade were THE vehicles on their way to ruling the American highway, I took a trip to Germany and saw that cute little fuel-efficient car for the first time. It looked like the front end of a minivan chopped off right where the drivers’ seats ended. It was different than anything on our roads in the States. It was a breath of fresh air.
I liked it so much, in fact, that when shopping for a new car in 2004 I seriously considered buying it the only way you could in the US at the time: Through a “grey market” importer. But that was insanely expensive with all of the modifications it required to meet American safety standards, and I settled on a cute little sporty 2005 Mazda3 that is still alive and treating me well to this very day.
Now, though, the Smart car is EVERYWHERE. Especially here in Denver where we have a car-sharing company called car2go that uses the little thing exclusively. And, frankly, the tiny automobile is getting on my nerves. Denver is a great city and has more street parking available than most metropolitan areas I’ve lived or visited, but the street on which I reside is a pretty busy one and finding a spot can be tough. We typically have between two and five car2go-labeled Smart cars parked in our immediate area on any given day. And the drivers of these cars seem to be completely inconsiderate or totally incompetent, or—most likely—both. The car is less than nine feet long—about half the length of a typical American “compact car.” Yet, the drivers tend to park five feet away from the “No Parking Past This Point” signs, or 10 feet away from the car in front of them. In other words, they park the petite vehicle the same way they would if it were a sedan. Sometimes you’ll see two Smart cars parked six feet away from each other on the same side of the street, leaving enough room for a bicycle, or 2/3 of another Smart car between them. They park five feet away from fire hydrants.
People who would otherwise be on foot, bike, or public transportation are clogging up my street parking. I know: First World Problems, right? Still, it drives me crazy.
And that’s why I’m getting a kick out of these vandals (street artists?) in San Francisco tipping Smart cars on their sides and front/back ends. I know the owners have to be going out of their minds—I would. But as an outsider frustrated with the car I once lusted after…I find it pretty hilarious. I know I shouldn’t. But I do.