Driving a Smart Car is as Cool as James Harrison

This is just one small car that could change the basics of planning http://gotmpg.com

This is just one small car that could change the basics of planning http://gotmpg.com

Apparently driving a smart car is becoming a cool thing to do. NFL Defensive Player of the year James Harrison yesterday pulled up to the first day of Steelers training camp driving the go kart look-alike, according timesonline.com. The article can be accessed by clicking here.

“His Smart car caused such a stir that coach Mike Tomlin actually took a turn driving the car.”

“Now that’s an interesting vehicle,” Tomlin said. “It doesn’t feel small, as you sit in the cabin, which was interesting. I expected it to feel maybe like a go-kart or something. But it’s not, it’s a nice little ride, and I imagine that he’s only going to gas that thing up about once every six weeks.”

To put this in a planning perspective, there are about 20,000 parking spaces surrounding Heinz Field, the Steelers stadium, according to steelers.com. The space required for 20k spaces is somewhere in the region of 7m square feet for 18’x 8′ (144′ sq.) spaces (one has to include backing out space and ways out). A typical car is about 15’x6′ (90′ sq.), allowing a foot either side of the car for entry and exit and 3′ to compensate for the variety in car lengths and poor parking jobs. This means for the 9’x5′ (45′ sq.) smart car, a parking space would require about 12’x7′ (84′ sq.) and backing out space would be about 14′, making a whole block of parking (middle pull out area and parking either side) 38′, nearly half of the 60′ currently required. That means for any given area, you can fit 36% more smart car parking spaces than conventional spaces. However, in terms of traveling to football games, this would not make sense, as normally more than 2 people travel to the game per car, plus the tailgating grill and food. For planning purposes it is relative because of the enormous space devoted to parking- space that could be used for housing, private businesses (yes bars), parks, or reserves, all within walking distance on game day. However, it may be in the interests of parking to provide separate parking for smart cars in a high priority area. This would encourage people to drive smart cars if they can and it would allow the parking lot to hold more cars, creating more revenue, decreasing the amount of fuel used and emissions given off to get to the stadium. Planning for smaller cars encourages people to buy small, just as planning for large cars encouraged people to buy the large gas guzzlers. The smaller the cars are, the more pedestrian, economic, and housing areas can be intertwined, and be more sustainable.

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Student Intern, VERTICES LLC

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