Smart Car, I was charmed. How could a car be so darn cute? I wanted to put it in my pocket and take it home. Maybe I’d even get a set of six. They’d fit in the same space as my current mid-sized car.
In the U.S., Smart Cars are a novelty. As the price of gas
rises, people may see the fuel efficiency as more desirable, but even then,
given the size of our roads, the distances we travel, will these little jewels
ever really be mainstream?
It’s a different case in Europe. Roads built hundreds of
years ago to let two horses pass are no wider today. The streets of Massa Macinaia
narrow as they round curves, requiring drivers to beep their horns as they
approach, lest they run head on into someone coming from the other direction.
The Roman aqueducts run right through towns and cities, so two-lane streets go to one lane
to accommodate the arch. Traffic lights in the walled city of Lucca regulate
traffic going in and out because the old city gates are only wide enough for
one vehicle at a time.
Smaller cars are the norm. So are small trucks. When the
garbage trucks hit the streets on Monday morning, I stood on our patio and watched. The truck was proportionally as small as the Smart Car, navigating the same narrow gravel lane Mary and I use as a shortcut to get to the grocery.
How does the truck accommodate all the garbage? Not to
worry. The garbage is also smaller. The recycling bins accept everything except
organic matter. Imagine how small your bag of garbage would be if it only
included banana peels and coffee grounds! Does that make the recycling bins
huge? Nope. Smaller. Less food packaging all around. Except for our wine
bottles. Those are the same.
The truck equivalent of a Smart Car is the three-wheeled
utility truck our landlord drives. This morning we met him as we walked. He was
taking a load to the dump in his little Piaggio truck. It’s easy to handle,
hauls just enough, and doesn’t take much gas.
I wanted one. I bet my husband would like six.