Smart Driving

My father is a bit of a classic car fan, not excessively, but enough to visit car museums. He’ll look at Bugattis and I’ll entertain myself looking at Messerschmidts and the Iso Isetta Bubble Car. Something about the unconventional doors appeals to me.

I saw one of these cars a while ago and I started to wonder if the way we drive would be very different if we’d continued development of cars on the Isetta path rather than the Bugatti path. I imagine a world where people drive slowly, gently, where there was room to park. Most importantly I imagine a world where drivers are friendly to each other, where road rage does not exist. Afterall who could drive aggressively in a three wheeled car that has one door – the whole front of the car.

In Paris last week I noticed a lot of “smart cars” around, these cars were originally designed to solve a different urban problem; a shortage of parking. The designers recognised that most trips made by city dwellers are short across city trips, with one or two people in the car, and transporting very little. Parking remains a difficult problem in many European cities including Amsterdam, in the area I live it would take more than five years on a waiting list for me to get a permit to park locally. In the mean time I’d be paying at least 20 euro per night. Needless to say I don’t have a car.

Smart cars score lower on the cuteness scale than the Iso Isetta, and they do have more power. However I wonder if driving smaller cars will change a person’s “driving personality“, and I wonder what the tipping point is; when enough people are driving small cars in a friendly way to change the driving culture of a city.

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