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Spanish parking places are smallest in Europe

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Spanish parking places are smallest in Europe
Getting out of a car wedged into a tiny underground parking space is a rite of passage for motorists in Spain. Photo: Ismael Villafranco
12:48 CET+01:00
A study has shown that spaces in Madrid and Barcelona's public car parks are tighter than anywhere else in Europe and often leave motorists unable to exit their vehicles.

Getting out of a car wedged into a tiny underground parking space is a rite of passage for motorists in Spain.

Drivers are often seen scrambling across their vehicles and contorting themselves to squeeze out of the passenger-side door because they don't have room to open their own.

Getting into the spaces isn't always easy either, as the scraped-off bodywork paint on concrete columns in car parks will attest.

Now motorists can console themselves with the fact that it isn't a lack of parking skills that leads to  their frustration and repeated trips to the paint yard, but a combination of larger modern vehicles and inadequate car park design.

EuroTest, a partnership of 18 automobile clubs in 17 countries, has released a report showing that Spanish parking places are officially the tightest in Europe.

The Real Automóvil Club de Catalunya (RACC), one of the participating groups, noted that Barcelona regulations insist only that parking places be 2.2 metres wide and 4.5 metres long.

That is much tighter than elsewhere in Europe, where parking bays are typically 20-30cm wider and 30cm longer.

Madrid motorists don't fare much better; Spain's capital insists only on 2.25 metre-wide spaces.

EuroTest suggests that parking bays should be at least 2.5m wide to fit modern vehicles.

A chart in their report shows how a typical small car has increased in size over recent decades, resulting in the current tight-fit fiasco.

A 1974 Volkswagen Golf was 1.61m wide, whereas the 2012 version is 2.03m with its wing mirrors unfolded.

RACC have asked that larger bays "should be mandatory in new car parks and when existing car parks renew their licences."  

Catalan daily La Vanguardia spoke to the Barcelona Provincial Guild of Automobile Repair Workshops who said that bodywork damage resulting from parking mishaps was so common that many motorists no longer even getting it repaired, making it difficult to gauge the full extent of the problem.

The Eurotest report also slammed Spain's car parks for being "dark and cramped" and having poor wheelchair access.

But not everything was bad news.

The common practice of charging by the minute, not by the hour, was praised as "less costly for short-stay parkers".

And the country was ranked alongside France as having the greatest number of parking places for motorcycles.

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