CHARLES TUCKWELL ’18
Cars at Trinity are too big. Parking spots at Trinity are also too big. The result is a true calamity limited parking on campus.
Where I come from, a carpark is like a tin of sardines. Everyone’s packed in tightly and no one wants to be there. And this is how they should be, a mere pitstop.
So, when I moved to the United States from the U.K. I was shocked to find not a tin of sardines but a true aquarium. There was so much space! Driv ing straight into a park, front-first, without having to adjust, was no longer a rarity but the norm. So too was the ability to open a car door fully. At home I had only ever done this if the next space was empty. I had been conditioned to open car doors slowly, care fully, and only just. Climbing-over fellow passengers to exit the vehicle on their side was common practice.
For a while I was fond of this new-found freedom. Parking in one swift turn is awesome, right? It is fast, easy, and convenient. And being conditioned to such a degree of caution with my car door at home I can only begin to explain to you the sense of relief and satisfaction I felt on giving an almighty outward swing to a car door without any fear of hitting the car next to me. Perhaps this is what they meant when they said America is the Land of the Free.
As fun as parking in one swift turn and giving my car door an almighty outward swing certainly is, it comes at a cost – space. There is a finite amount of space in car parks and too much is allotted to each individual park. Simple geometry tells you that this freedom to drive about and park with the accuracy of a Fox News report means fewer cars will fit.
One would have thought that with such large parking spots people would be able to park expertly. But the opposite seems to be true: give the drivers more space and they manage to park like someone who just got their license. Next time you are walking down Crescent Street, just have a look at the angles some of these drivers manage to achieve.
In fact, I took the liberty last week of measuring the width of a campus parking spot. Nine feet! Would you believe it? By contrast, the average width a parking spot in the U.K is just under eight feet. This means that for every eight parking spots in an American carpark, the British have nine. Extend this over Trinity’s total parking availability and you are probably getting eighty extra spots.
Why, then, are the parking spots so big? The answer is simple: because the cars are so big. Cars in the U.S are notably larger than cars anywhere else in the world (though my evidence for this is merely anecdotal). I walk around the main Crescent lot and find myself dwarfed by these juggernauts. Seriously, some of these cars are absolute tanks with no business being on suburban streets. Broad Street might have more pot holes than any other road east of the Mississippi River, but you do not need a vehicle the size of a small house to drive through it.