So here’s the dilemma. You own a Smart car and decide that instead of parking parallel to the curb in an on-street parking space, you will back in perpendicular. You take up less room on the curb because the car isn’t as wide as it is long, but your car sticks out slightly more than the car parked next to you. You go into a restaurant for lunch and return to find that you received a ticket for parking in an abnormal fashion. This was the case of the Smart car you see in the above photo parked in downtown Raleigh over the weekend.
Is parking your Smart car perpendicular to the curb illegal? It seems so. Should it be?
When I lived in London back in 2003, Smart cars were parked in any way possible on streets. The big advantage of having a Smart car was being able to park it in the easiest possible way and the local coppers didn’t seem to care. I don’t think I ever saw a ticket on any of the cars, despite being parked perpendicular or otherwise. Seeing Smart cars emerge in Raleigh in the past few years brought back these memories and I found myself talking to lots of colleagues and friends about the ability of Smart cars to park perpendicular to the curb. I guess this doesn’t fly in the Oak City. Or maybe this person was just parking this way to prove a point.
Let’s compare some large SUV dimensions (the largest possible car to fit in a parallel space) with the dimensions of a Smart car and parallel parking space dimensions. A Smart car is 8.8 feet long, 5.1 feet tall and 5.1 feet wide. A Hummer, one of the widest SUV’s on the road, is 6.8 feet wide and 15.8 feet long and Yukons max out around 6.6 feet in width and 16.8 feet in length. A typical parallel parking space is 8 feet wide by 20 feet long and are commonly marked between 7 and 8 feet in width and 22 to 26 feet in length (source). That said, you could fit two Smart cars in a parallel parking space, but if rotated 90 degrees, one would stick out of the space approximately 0.8 feet or 10 inches. This equals approximately a full tire over the edge of the painted edges in a car parked parallel to the curb but slightly off center.
It seems slightly outrageous that 10 inches would be cause for a parking ticket, but it’s a sensitive case and laws are laws for a reason. You be the judge. If we use the above math and comparisons, should parking a Smart car perpendicular to the curb warrant a ticket in downtown Raleigh?
Photo by Bill Gregory