The size of cars has grown at a disproportionate rate. There is a solution: a space tax

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No, it is not we who have grown. Nor are the streets narrower. The ones that have grown are the cars. And, with them, the space available for other traffic agents has been reduced proportionally. Quite a problem now that they want to prioritize the use of public transport, bicycles and VMP in cities.


A theoretical sample. A few days ago, a tweet that went viral reflected what the sprawl of automobiles. In the same space that four primitive automobiles entered in 1840, in 1980 it only left room for three cars (represented by a Volkswagen Golf) and a bicycle. In fact, if they circulate in parallel, the two Volkswagens would already be overtaking the central axis of the lane.

42 years later, the two-way street has disappeared. Where previously two vehicles could circulate in each direction with two others parked flanking them, now there is only room for one lane and one direction, with two parked cars. There is no longer room to cross a bicycle and a car and the presence of these two parallel vehicles far exceeds what used to be the central axis of the road.

And several graphic samples. In case there was any doubt about how cars have grown in our cities, the following tweet offers a much clearer and more precise image. Although in Spain it is rare to see this type of car, it is impressive to see a modern Chevrolet SUV next to a coupé from decades ago.

In the image of the Tweet we can see how a Kia compact already has problems parking within the limits and allowed and even steps on the lines that delimit the parking space. But scrolling the post a bit, other users also share impressive comparisons between vehicles, especially in the case of American SUVs.

quite a problem. It is no longer just a purely volume issue. Large SUVs are a safety issue… for other traffic officers. There are already studies that ensure that American SUVs and pick-ups are between two and three times more dangerous for pedestrians than any other vehicle.

The probability of being killed in a hit by an SUV is a 11% older than with another car. The blind spot on a Cadillac Escalade is so large you could have up to seven children sitting ahead and not see them. And it’s not just a matter of American models. Europeans, like these BMW, Mini or the aforementioned Volkswagen Golf, have also followed the same trend. In fact, the compact is 15% longer, 11% wider and 3% higher than the original 1974 model.

While the world thinks about a future of electric cars, Japan bets (almost) everything on the hydrogen car

There is a brake: pay. As with most fashions, there is a way to stop trends: pay for them. In Japan they have been aware of the space problem for a long time. For this reason, vehicles pay circulation, registration, weight… and size tax. This made popular the Kei Cars (short for keijidōsha, light automobile).

The result is a very narrow vehicle that gains interior space in height. It is perfect for the city because it takes up very little space. The maximum allowed before making the leap to common cars is 3.4 meters long and 1.48 meters wide. To get an idea, a Mini Cooper classic measured 3.05 meters long and 1.41 meters wide. A volkswagen golf The first generation is already going to be 3.82 meters long and 1.61 meters wide. Or, what is the same, 26 centimeters narrower than a current Smart EQ Fortwo.

and it works. It’s not magic, it’s the market, man. The five best-selling cars in 2021 in Japan and Korea? All of them were Kei Cars. And there is still room for another two cars of this type to sneak into the top 10. The other three vehicles aren’t especially big either: Toyota Yaris, Yaris Cross, and Nissan Note.

In addition, the Kei Cars cannot mount engines of more than 600 cubic centimeters that produce more than 64 CV. Having said all of the above, what is the point of asking for more from this type of car? They are cars designed for and to move around the city occupying little. We must not lose sight of the fact that, for long trips, the Shinkansen is still the preferred transport.

Photo | crash71100

No, it is not we who have grown. Nor are the streets narrower. The ones that have grown are the…

No, it is not we who have grown. Nor are the streets narrower. The ones that have grown are the…

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