We measured whether cars can fit in parking spaces in Prague. There is a lack of space

Twenty-three years ago, the Skoda Superb measured 1,765 millimeters in width, while its current generation is less than nine centimeters. It can still be called a moderate expansion, as many car manufacturers have set a high pace in expanding their models. This brings problems mainly in cities, where cars “overflow” from parking spaces onto carriageways. The same applies to Prague.

Can you guess how wide a marked parking lot is in the center of Prague? According to our measurements, it is two meters – sometimes a few centimeters more, sometimes a little less. Above all, ČSN 73 6110 sets the technical standard for the construction of local roads.

Motorists in London, Paris or Rome are even worse off. Here only a section of 180 cm wide can cross the parking lot, in which only small cars can park more willingly.

According to will find out The European Organization for Sustainable Transport Transport and the Environment, meanwhile, expects the width of new cars in the EU to reach an average of 180.3 centimeters by mid-2023, up from 177.8 cm in 2018 (without mirrors). In practice, most new cars are unlikely to park comfortably in cities. According to research, the trend of expanding physical work has been observed for decades. Cars grow a centimeter wider every two years.

T&E's experts believe that the EU will eventually have to regulate the maximum width of passenger cars, which is currently not defined in any way. In theory, according to the system, the width could one day reach the 255 centimeter mark, which is the limit for buses and trucks.

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According to T&E, large SUVs are growing significantly in width, for example the Land Rover Defender is now 20.6cm wider than before, while the BMW X5 has grown by 6cm in just six years. The new generation Volvo EX90 from 2023 is 4.1 cm wider. With the increase in width in higher classes, cars in lower classes grow similarly.

A good example is the 185 cm wide Dacia Sandero. Licensed Renault 12, whose production began the history of the Romanian car company, standing next to it, it is almost a quarter of a meter narrower.

At the same time, drivers of ever-wider cars are forced to drive on ever-narrower streets. “Cycle lanes have been added to many roads in recent years, legally reducing the width of the road. This undoubtedly requires more attention from car drivers when driving,” says traffic psychologist Michael Walter.

According to him, this could also be the reason why especially older drivers, who no longer have such good judgment while driving, often switch to lower classes of cars. “But that's just my impression, I don't have any hard data on it, and I doubt it even exists,” Walter says.

However, just because cars keep getting bigger doesn't mean their manufacturers are doing it on purpose. During the development of each new generation model, the car manufacturer takes into account the period in which the given car was produced. So if he starts building a car now that won't go into production five years from now, he has to calculate the population size of 2040 today.

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Car companies don't just estimate a customer's height, they accurately calculate it from Skoda's reference periods of 2000 and 2020. Based on this data, they create test mannequins that correspond to the body composition. Travelers from the future. Intergenerational changes in specimens are not dramatic, typically a few centimeters. However, over several decades, this number can become impressive, which usually happens in practice.

However, the increase in the size of cars is related to safety, when car manufacturers count more crumple zones than in the past. Passengers whose shoulders are “glued” to a narrow car door are more likely to have a side impact than those protected by a large sheet of metal from which they are also far enough away.

However, all good causes ultimately find an unchanging place in the historical center of European cities, usually created in the era of horse-drawn carriages. Cities should address car volume issues by charging higher parking fees for SUVs or reducing parking spaces or making streets one-way, as in Paris.

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