In a nearby town hosting a festival, I observed the inability of suburbanites to parallel park.
The problem was not that the cars were too far from the curb or protruding at odd angles. Rather, the amount of space left between the cars meant that numerous cars had to park further out. The space was used inefficiently; on this block alone (and numerous other nearby blocks), at least two or three more cars could have fit in and everyone still would have had some space between their cars.
Why does this regularly occur? There are several possible factors at work:
- Suburbanites just don’t get much practice in parallel parking. Most parking spots in the suburbs are straight in or angled. Parallel parking requires some skill and practice would help.
- Drivers are afraid to harm their cars. Note the picture above: the cars aren’t the most expensive yet they are not cheap or old and all appear to be in very good shape. Parking close to others means the possibility that bumpers can be scratched. And given the plastic yet expensive nature of bumpers, no one wants to mess with this.
- There is little to no social pressure to park any closer. In this situation, no one wants to be the driver who suddenly gets really close to the other cars. Protect the other cars and they will protect yours.
Until some things change, this suburban parking situation is likely to be repeated time after time.