South Korea is spending about $100m on women only parking spots which are wider and longer than standard spaces.
However, authorities insist it has nothing to do with the age-old clichéd stereotype of female parking skills – but instead are designed to make women feel safer, and those with families more comfortable.
The move has come under fire on social media after Australian motoring website motoring.com.au posted a story on the initiative last week, and it was picked up by other outlets including the Daily Mail, London Independent, and Huffington Post – which branded it “staggeringly patronising”.
Only – it’s not quite a new idea, and is part of a much wider safety and security drive in Seoul.
The concept of women-only parking was covered in a 2008 report from the “Women-Friendly Seoul project”, and implemented in April 2009, according to the Korea Times. The current $100m investment reported appears to be an expansion of that five-year-old scheme.
The slightly larger size is only one aspect of the “women-friendly” spaces – they’re also often better-lit, close to exits, covered by CCTV and have nearby emergency bells – all designed, authorities say, to improve safety.
Apart from the parking spaces, the project also worked on things like footpaths that would not develop cracks where high-heels could get stuck, and small touches like changing overhead straps on public transport to a height where women could more easily reach them.
It also added security features like emergency bells to public restrooms, a taxi service that sends family members journey information (including the taxi driver’s plate) late at night, and transparent elevators in residential complexes.
Nonetheless, the existence of these parking spaces has sparked a massive international storm, with most media reports comparing it to the 2012 controversy in Germany, when Triberg’s mayor designated parking spaces as men only if they were tricky to navigate.
So – what do we think? Are wider spaces, or even just the increased security, a good idea? Or is it pink and patronizing?