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Parking rules for Smart Cars stupid

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By Mike Seate, TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Thursday, February 12, 2009

At just 92 inches long, the uniquely designed Smart Car has helped transform parking in cities.

The two-seater Daimler-Benz subcompact can be parked with its rear bumper toward the curb, which allows two Smart Cars to squeeze into a single parking space.

Seeing these miniature-but-functional machines parked two to a space is common for travelers to Europe, Canada and the United Kingdom, places where urban planners appreciate the way smaller vehicles help cut down on traffic congestion and parking woes.

However, if you're among those who've purchased one of these vehicles in the Greater Pittsburgh area, don't expect to be applauded for helping to soften the region's parking problem.

According to David Onorato, director of the Pittsburgh Parking Authority, vehicles on city streets and in authority garages and lots are required to park one to a space, regardless of how fuel-efficient, cute or European they are.

"I wouldn't suggest backing a car into the curb, because the rule is one vehicle per space. That means one vehicle pays to park at a meter at a time," he said, adding that if the rule changes for Smart Cars, it would have to change for all sorts of vehicles.

Funny thing is, that's precisely what some cities have done.

Overseas, motorcycles, scooters and other small vehicles such as BMW's C1 "Future Scooter" — which resembles an oversized roller skate with a partially enclosed, one-person cockpit — are permitted to cram as many as possible into a single curbside parking space.

London and Paris permit these undersized vehicles to be parked on sidewalks as long as they do not block pedestrian traffic. Better yet, smaller vehicles can pass traffic on either the right or left sides and overtake along centerlines with no fear of being pulled over.

Try that here and you can expect to get a healthy traffic citation or, in some cases, have your vehicle towed.

That doesn't exactly strip any gears for Gregg Szabaturi, general manager at Mercedes Benz/Smart Car of Pittsburgh in Shadyside. In the two years Smart Cars have rolled out of the Baum Boulevard shop, Szabaturi says he has noticed parking laws are "up to the discretion of police officers."

Though he said many customers are thrilled to own a car so small it can be parked two per space, the dealership's own lot was subject to a mass ticketing by city police last year after officers mistook the paved, private lot for a city street, Szabaturi said.

"The Smart Car was late getting to America after coming to Canada, Mexico and 36 other countries first. It doesn't make sense not to let them park more efficiently, but it's still really new to this country," he said.

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Source.

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I have seen many of these cars parked sideways and I think that is kind of stupid to be honest. They stick out too far which would infuriate cyclists like me, the soft and very damageable sides of the car are fully exposed to "touch parkers" and the vehicle's reflectors are not properly oriented to traffic at night. The solution is the designation of smart parallel parking spaces such as Duncan BC led the way with, and a secondary solution is permitting two smarts to share a parallel space....parked parallel to the curb.

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Gotta agree with Mike. I think it is just silly and looks like something a kid would do to be cool. 'T-Bone' parking is just inviting panel or front end damage from a vehicle parking normally. There are legitimate reasons why this is illegal.

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The solution would be "No matter where you are the law should be obeyed by the public and enforced by peace officers." If one or more vehicles were so small that two or more could be placed in the same parking space and there was no law that prohibited it then no one has the right to complain about them just because 'their' personal opinion differs for what the law allows. Conversely if an over sized vehicle went over the size of the parking space then if there was a law providing one vehicle per parking space then I would expect that the law be followed and the vehicle be ticketed no matter where they parked.

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