Bigger Isn’t Always Better
It isn’t that everything is bigger in Texas but that everything is bigger in the United States. Portions are too big, buildings scrape the sky and (clearly) our spending outweighs our earnings. The extravagant nature of the States can feel in your face, but as I’ve discussed with bad design, we acclimatize ourself to nuisances. Bigger isn’t always bad but I’d rather you didn’t take your big problem onto my streets.
The automobiles that trudge through the streets of San Francisco are perhaps more reasonable than in the rest of the United States but their sheer size is still astounding. What mostly turns my head is seeing Hummers all over the city. Have you seen one try to go up a hill? I sometimes wonder if Newton would have a heart attack. I at least imagine that the passengers in that car do.
Unnecessarily large cars run rampant through a city that is often hailed as the greenest in the US. I more frequently see mini-vans or four door sedans cruising outside of the carpool lane than inside. I’ve heard men and women audibly groan as they filled the tanks of their marshmallow cars. (Marshmallow car is a term I use to describe those giant vans with suspension that is supposed to make you feel as if you are floating on a highway – but it also makes the car less fuel efficient and prevents me from going beyond what feels like 30 MPH). The ubiquity of these cars is something you only find them in the States. We tend to find it difficult to differentiate between what is the status quo and what is necessity.
Italy, France and Spain had existing infrastructure that couldn’t be redesigned to fit bloated four-wheelers. Their cars are often sleek, technologically advanced but best of all – they make finding a parking spot is much, much easier. Small cars can be cute and economical – remember the VW Beetle that made a come back, albeit briefly?
It took a billion-dollar bailout to finally get Fiat onto American soil. The Italian automaker had to buy out majority shares in Chrysler. Starting in July, 500 Fiats were rolled out into the US and soon the tiny beasts known as 500C Cabrio will be all over the country. Fiats are the cars I grew up in and squeezed into with my mother, father and two sisters.
I’m also loving that there will be Fiat plants opened up all over the US – we will be living internationalism. Small, well-made internationalism.