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Redusernab Asks: Compact Parking Spaces: Do They Suck or What?

Robert Emslie October 19, 2016 Redusernab Asks 28 Comments


I know that I have promised to tell you all about my new daily driver, and cross my heart I soon will. In the mean time suffice with the knowledge that I’ve swapped a big car for one that’s more compact and part of the impetus for doing so was living in a congested suburban environment where space—including parking space—is at a premium.

Now, there are building codes in my area that demand a certain number of parking spaces be made available for a combination of the business’s purpose and expected traffic. Those requirements specify the number and dimensions of the spaces and it seems they expect that most of the area’s shoppers to all drive skateboards. How else can you explain the plethora of “compact” parking spaces that seriously are so small that you have to back out of them just to change your mind?

I have such an animus toward the overly tight spaces that I will go out of my way not to be forced to use them. Unfortunately I am married and that means parking any distance away from a business’s entrance means a walk of shame to the front door. What do you think, have municipalities and their building codes gone too far in only offering spaces for the super model thin? Do you too find that compact spaces suck?


  • Kiefmo


    • kogashiwa

      That’s narrower than a “mid-size” Fusion though, and the same length.

      New cars are truly vast.

      • Kiefmo

        True, but it’s near-as-makes-no-difference to the same length as my minivan, and I’d never park it in a “compact” spot.

        As mine was the second-largest Mercedes at the time (second only to the longer version of the same), this is as much a comment on model bloat as anything.

        I also regularly park the minivan in some parallel spots ludicrously marked “compact” every Saturday morning on the donut run. They are anything but small. Last week, I was parked between a crew-cab F150 and a G63, and it wasn’t a tight squeeze.

      • outback_ute

        Probably the same size as “compact” US cars from the mid-60s

    • Rover 1

      The largest standard car available in the US when it was new.

  • GTXcellent

    I love these little reminders about the joys of rural living.

    • dr zero

      OT, but yellow Donald is confusing me.

      • Rover 1

        Yes, orange Donald is currently getting a lot of publicity.

  • Maymar

    I drive one of the smallest late-model cars available in North America, so no, they’re just fine.

    Also, I have an aversion to the big box stores and oversized parking lot thanks to the awful rural suburb I grew up in, and compact car spots tend to go with urban places where I feel less malaise (they are worse to drive in though).

  • Alff

    It’s not just parking spaces that have shrunk but parking lot thoroughfares as well. This affects maneuverability and sight lines. I’m surprised not to see more accidents in some of these.

  • JayP

    My work had just re-sealed the back parking lot and adjusted the lines
    for the F250s that had tried to squeeze into the tiny slots before.
    Several coworkers had damage to their cars from others parking. Parking
    now is like sliding on a pair of boxers.

    • kogashiwa

      Silk or cotton?

      • spotarama


  • kogashiwa

    What bugs me more than compact parking spaces (my IS300 is pretty small) is the fact that with three fourths of vehicles being either a truck, crossover, or van, in any parking spot I pretty much can’t see anything. Backing out is a roll of the dice every time. Suppose I should break down and get a rear view camera.

    • roguetoaster

      Even worse is when someone honks at you from 6 spaces away as if you were supposed to be able to see them around some giant vehicle, when they could see your reverse lights the entire time.

    • Letstakeawalk

      If you back into the space, it’s easier and safer when you exit.

      • kogashiwa

        I know and I keep telling myself that I should be doing this. And not actually doing it.

        • wunno sev

          because i now live in big-trucks-all-the-time Texas, i do this. and it works. totally worth the effort up front.

  • Batshitbox

    They’re a crock. At least in the shopping center I visit the most, the ‘compact’ and undesignated spaces are all the same width, and I can back my half-ton long wheelbase in over the parking blocks in such a way that my front bumper is frequently tucked away behind the Mini next to me, which was parked by your average San Franciscan.

    I park the big GMC in ‘Compact Only’ spaces all the time. Never protruding into the lane, and never crowding the doors of anyone nearby, so long as they’re not sloppily chucked into the space with one wheel on the line.

    I’ve only sen them in private parking lots. Do they have municipal spaces designated ‘Compact Only’?

    • The way I see it, my 3/4-ton pickup is quite compact compared to any of the trucks currently offered by International.

      • Batshitbox

        Heck, the ’91 GMC is compact compared to a 2016 F-150.

    • dead_elvis, inc.

      The branch of the Seattle library I frequent has its own parking, and a bunch of them are marked “compact only”. (That counts as municipal, right?) They’re not the smallest spaces I’ve seen, but a Toyota Sequoia does NOT fit in one. And when someone parks a behemoth that over-fills the space, I don’t feel the slightest twinge of regret, parking hard right in my own space. If they have to climb in through the passenger side, maybe they’ll rethink their parking. Libraries are about learning!

  • 0A5599

    My old next door neighbor daily drove a F550 flatbed. Even our Whole Foods lots can handle duallys. Most parking spaces around here are pretty generous.

    I can deal with property owners designating a few corner spots as compact only to make regular spots available for people who really need them. I think any local business that doesn’t offer ample parking is committing financial suicide.

    • roguetoaster

      Yet the area around me continues to build more “town center” style shopping complexes, with either insufficient parking or highly inconvenient parking. This leads to most of the invariable single lane in either direction being blocked with people loading their cars.

      It’s also funny to see large areas hashed off in conventional parking lots that could easily accommodate a small car.

  • JohnComposMentis

    At least where I live — a fairly low-density small city — I’ve never noticed that “compacts only” spots are narrower than others. They’re just shorter, usually due to something like a light pole or tree planter interfering. There also seems to be an adequate supply in most cases, and I often take an outlier for easy no-ding entry and exit and because walking a few extra steps won’t kill me.

  • jeepjeff

    I drive a Jeep Wrangler… It’s a foot and half shorter than the smallest thing currently marketed as ‘compact’. So, eh?

  • Parking spaces have been on the tight side in Europe for decades. And I know our cars have tended to be more compact than in America, but it seems that MK3 VW Golf size or thereabouts has become the norm.

  • cap’n fast

    screw it. i use as many spaces as required for my dodge ram as it takes. if you didn’t like it that is not a problem for me. it weighs seven thousand pounds (US) empty, the pipe bumpers are filled with concrete and if i am cleverly blocked in by a utopia seeking dizzen in an econobox trying to teach me a lesson in parking lot manners, it would be my pleasure to extol the virtues of traction, torque and the elasticity of alloy steel.

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