By on July 30, 2009

Auto Motor und Sport picks up on a report in De Telegraaf about a wave of anti-Smart vandalism that’s sweeping the city of a thousand “coffee shops.” Apparently, Amsterdam’s police force has been forced to post patrols around the city’s many canals in an attempt to curb the latest “weekend sport”: Smart tipping. The extent of this European version of cow tipping is unclear, although Amsterdam’s Smart Center reports “a number” of incidents. Apparently, the fact that the diminutive city cars park facing canals (instead of parallel parking like everyone else) makes them especially vulnerable. However Dutchamsterdam reports that the vandalism is not exclusive to Smarts. “In recent years vandals have also targeted other small vehicles, including scootmobiles and tiny cars from the Canta brand — both used primarily by people with handicaps and limited mobility,” is their analysis. Finally, a use for all those damn Neighborhood Electric Vehicles!

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33 Comments on “Smart Tipping In Amsterdam?...”


  • avatar
    BDB

    This could be solved by using a bicycle lock on your Smart Car.

  • avatar
    Sid Vicious

    Once long ago drunk outside of a strip club and in need of a parking space, we flipped a Geo Metro on it’s roof…..

  • avatar
    tced2

    If a couple of people can tip a Smart Car over, then think what a moving accident (hitting a Chevy pickup for example) would do.

  • avatar
    dean

    I’ve never been able to understand the mentality of vandals. What goes through your head when you willfully damage or destroy someone else’s property?

    tced2 has already started the certain wave of “the Smart is so dangerous” comments, to which I add this bulk reply: just think what hitting a Chevy pickup will do to me on my motorcycle? Wow, I must just quake in fear every time I hop on!

    Just because some people might be too paranoid or filled with fear to drive a Smart doesn’t mean that everyone is. Get over it, people.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    If a couple of people can tip a Smart Car over, then think what a moving accident (hitting a Chevy pickup for example) would do.

    It’d push the car and occupants around, just as it would do to a Civic. Or just as a semi would do to the aforementioned Chevy pickup.

    Can we move past this, please? The Smart is safe enough, especially considering the tin-can cars from the early 90s that are on the streets. Or motorcycles. Or pedestrians.

    That said, this is amusing in a sociopathic kind of way. I don’t think I’d be at all amused if it was my car, but I can easily picture the attitude from whence it’s coming.

  • avatar

    Or me on my bicycle. I’m with Dean

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I’ve never been able to understand the mentality of vandals. What goes through your head when you willfully damage or destroy someone else’s property?

    I don’t think much does. I recently had a couple of kids tear a pair of ornaments off my fence. I caught them and asked, quite frankly, why their were doing it. What I got back was blank stare and an “I dunno…” when pressed.

    From what I can tell, unless it’s graffiti, vandalism is simply base-intellect sociopathy. There’s no “thinking” involved above a very primal—and very Beavis-And-Butthead—search for amusement.

    Either that, or they’re trying to impress a girl. I have no idea if this actually works.

  • avatar
    johnthacker

    just think what hitting a Chevy pickup will do to me on my motorcycle? Wow, I must just quake in fear every time I hop on!

    But surely you concede that motorcycles are on average more dangerous than cars, and some people do in fact avoid them for that reason, and if they’re concerned about safety they’re right to do so.

    Can we move past this, please? The Smart is safe enough, especially considering the tin-can cars from the early 90s that are on the streets. Or motorcycles. Or pedestrians.

    Of course we’re never going to move past it because people aren’t going to agree on what “safe enough” is, especially since to some people (like the IIHS) things are never “safe enough.”

    The Smart is more dangerous than a larger modern car would be. At the same time, yes, advances in technology and design mean that it’s still safer than older cars (even larger ones) in most scenarios, especially one car accidents. The IIHS ratings, among other things, bear that out.

    Sure, plenty of people exaggerate the danger of the Smart and other very small cars. But I see just as many people insisting that the Smart is just as safe, which is also false.

  • avatar
    BDB

    I wonder what a Chevy pickup would do to me if one ran into me in my Miata?

    I’d bet the Smart is safer, but I’m not giving up my love of roadsters.

  • avatar
    tced2

    It’s not that I have a vendetta against the Smart Car.

    But it has to do with “crumple zones” and the Smart Car has less room to work with. You can make a small car infinitely strong so that nothing will crumple it. But the occupants will have a nasty ride when the crash occurs. The goal is to have the car give enough to allow a reasonable “crash” between the occupants and the vehicle. Air bag accomplish this goal by inflating quickly and then deflating more slowly. The Smart Car just has less room to work with to accomplish this goal. Larger cars just require less skillful management of the forces because they have the luxury of space that the Smart Car doesn’t have.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Not exactly a Chevy pickup, but the Smart-on-S Class crash video is always worth another look.

  • avatar
    don1967

    “Smart tipping”? You can’t buy publicity like this.

    Smart is probably wondering why they didn’t think of it themselves a long time ago.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Maybe they mistook the Smart for one of these: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4pxTRQ7AXA

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    But it has to do with “crumple zones” and the Smart Car has less room to work with.

    The problem is more mass than crush zones. You’re not going to decelerate appreciably as the result of a few feet of crushable metal, but a heavier vehicle will be the benefactor of less kinetic energy.

    That said, the Smart isn’t an automatic-lose for this reason. It’s not at all a bad performer when it comes to chassis instrusion into the passenger compartment; certainly not moreso than a subcompact or compact car. You’re realistically no more safe in a Corolla should you encounter something significantly more massive.

    Far too much is made of this car’s crash performance purely because of it’s shape. There are “traditional” cars that crash as badly or worse, but they’re simply more acceptable. Again, I think we need to move on.

    But surely you concede that motorcycles are on average more dangerous than cars, and some people do in fact avoid them for that reason, and if they’re concerned about safety they’re right to do so.

    Yes, but not every discussion about motorcycles is peppered with armchair crash speculation. Again, we make far too much of the Smart simply because it’s different.

  • avatar
    wsn

    psarhjinian :
    July 30th, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    You’re realistically no more safe in a Corolla should you encounter something significantly more massive.

    ———————————————

    What do you mean by “significantly more massive?” Like Mars hitting Earth?

    The typical (and most selling) cars on the road are Camries/F150s. When colliding with them, the Corolla will have 3 feet of front end to crumple while the smart has only one. BTW, Corolla isn’t known for being safe, try a Civic.

    I am not suggesting anyone to buy an F150 to win the contest. At least the Corolla buyer, by not buying F150, saved $30k in all kinds of costs that can be spent elsewhere that more than enough compensate for his 0.01% increased chance of death. The Smart doesn’t even get that pay back. I will repeat again, I am not against a tiny car. The Smart would be a great $5,000 car. But at $15,000 or more, it’s simply stupid.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I think we are falling into the dangerous trap of discussing one car’s safety, when the real issue (in this article and thread) should be the law-and-order issue.

    It’s always bad when sociopathic behavior is ignored, allowed, or indirectly condoned with a “nudge-nudge/wink-wink” attitude.

    Sociopathic behavior is indeed a heavy anchor on economic behavior. When we are unsafe or when our economic activity or purchases are unsafe, then human beings generally stop that activity. It doesn’t matter if the sociopathic behavior is mere vandalism or something more serious like theft, swindling, battery, or murder.

    Societies that allow such behavior to continue will, in general, lose economic activity more, resulting in a poorer economic condition for the people who live there.

    I have never engaged in “tipping,” either cow or car. Such behavior should be stiffly punished, if not by farmer’s shotgun, at least by firm rule and application of law.

    Sorry to be a wet blanket here, but I don’t see this as a funny topic at all.

  • avatar
    paul_y

    Vandalism is unbelievably stupid, period. The fortwo is just a target because it stands out even when you’re drunk. A Geo Metro/Suzuki Swift/etc. from the early 90s is about the same weight, and not much bigger, but I’d bet it’s not the vandalism target, just because it’s so blandly styled. Above examples excepted, of course.

    …and if I hear/read “What happens if you hit a semi in a smartcar?” one more time (I realize it hasn’t been said here yet, but it will be), I’m going to figure out a way to punch someone through the internet. The answer is, “The same as what happens if you hit a semi in anything smaller than a semi: you get flattened/scissored in half.” The fortwo is not notably less safe than any other small car out now, and leagues safer than most older cars in general.

  • avatar
    Ninjalectual

    Here in America, vandalism is often a reaction to all the times the perpetrators have been pushed around by society. Since you can’t shove a cop, no matter how much those little pricks deserve it, kids will rightly or wrongly take out their frustration on random citizens. It sucks, but when you live in a police state, you’re going to be around a lot of unhappy people. Just part of the territory.

  • avatar
    wsn

    psarhjinian :
    July 30th, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Yes, but not every discussion about motorcycles is peppered with armchair crash speculation. Again, we make far too much of the Smart simply because it’s different.
    ———————————————-

    You missed the point. Of course not everything can win a crash contest, but with every trade off you should get something in return.

    A motorcycle (or a Ferrari) isn’t crash-worthy, but you get great acceleration.

    A Corolla isn’t crash-worthy, but you get great ownership economy.

    A Smart isn’t crash-worthy, what do you get? I cannot think of anything other than vertical parking in a parallel spot. But that’s not a big deal over other small cars here in my city, because parking meters are used on busy streets.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Is it possible the owners didn’t it, to claim the insurance? Especially if the car is out of warranty and has some problems.

    Or, MB did it to increase demand?

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    A Smart isn’t crash-worthy, what do you get? I cannot think of anything other than vertical parking in a parallel spot.

    Good question, and one I asked myself, after being one of the early folks who put down a deposit on one.

    The smart car (they have no capitalization) hits my “minimalist” button, in the same way my Ninja 250 makes me smile. There is something terribly cool (to me) about a vehicle that is boiled down to its essentials. Had they brought us the diesel, with cruise control, I’d have one in my garage right now. Tucked in the corner, of course…

    I say I’d buy a smart car despite the obvious: for what you get, the car is over priced. Spend a few more thousand, barely, and you’ll have a Honda Fit. And that Honda Fit achieves much more by way of utility, and by extension, economy.

    Still, I think the smart is an awesome car.

    To the point of vandalism, people are idiots. And they are everywhere. Singling out that which is different (and that which they don’t and possibly can’t understand), is easy. Taking the time to understand requires effort.

    It’s easier to destroy it.

  • avatar

    So, what do we learn from this? You are better off with a Hummer, especially in Amsterdam.

  • avatar
    whatsanobeen

    Its much cooler than the “punch buggy” game.
    :D

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Students we knew went out at night with spray on mud (you can buy it at off-road shops) defacing every pristine Pickup/SUV they could find.

    They photographed the owner’s reactions when they came back to their car!

    Oh, the HUMANITY, the HORROR!!!

    I personally would like to put John Deere decals on Harleys/Vipers. I can just see the tears…..

  • avatar
    charly

    @herb, my guess is that you never tried to park in Amsterdam otherwise you wouldn’t say that.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Here in America, vandalism is often a reaction to all the times the perpetrators have been pushed around by society. Since you can’t shove a cop, no matter how much those little pricks deserve it, kids will rightly or wrongly take out their frustration on random citizens. It sucks, but when you live in a police state, you’re going to be around a lot of unhappy people. Just part of the territory.

    Funny how two people can have a similar choice of words, yet such different opinions.

    As the son of a former police officer, I was going to say that vandalism is often the result of the perpetrator being a spoiled little prick with lousy parents and a Ritalin-dispensing psychologist who insists that he is a victim of society.

  • avatar
    niky

    Vandals aren’t always rich… but they’re usually young, bored and frustrated… (and yes, have sucky parents)… most people outside the US don’t even know what Ritalin is, and can’t even afford a psychiatrist and we don’t have any shortage of vandals.

    The Smart is as safe as can be for a car with its given crash ratings… let’s gedoffit. It’s never the amount of metal you’ve got in front of you… it’s whether that metal will absorb the force of the impact without impaling you on the steering column or decapitating you with the knife edge of the firewall being pushed back by five hundred pounds of motor.

    But I agree… the Smart doesn’t deliver any benefits besides ease-of-parking to justify its price tag… a bigger subcompact will get the same economy or better, have better performance, will actually carry five people and their luggage and will have five-star crash protection, to boot.

  • avatar
    another_pleb

    The last time I went to Amsterdam, I really wore myself out… All those museums and art galleries really take it out of you.

    Seriously though, I would bet my next pay cheque that the majority of Smart Tippings are perpetrated by marauding stag parties.

    Mind you, I remember back at uni, a few of us lifted up one guy’s Citroen AX with scaffolding poles under the jacking points and moved it out of sight.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    A Smart isn’t crash-worthy, what do you get?

    You get an interestingly-shaped car that suits the needs and wants of people who buy it. To some people that’s enough.

    If we mandated that all car purchases be rational decisions, well, I hope I’d be holding Toyota stock because Corolla and Matrix sales would be through the roof.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    A couple of other kids and I turned around this guy’s vw in the community club parking lot. He came out after the meeting and for some reason immediately identified us as the perpetrators: “What do I have to do to stop you kids from this kind of behavior?” I couldn’t help myself:”Buy a Buick.”

    Bit longer story now, bear with me. I had a supervisor, Ed, who’d been the only Portuguese kid in an Italian neighborhood in NYC, and who had learned very well how to get along in those circumstances. One summer evening he and a bunch of his friends were on a roof throwing bricks at at a cop. The cop came after them, the other kids got away, and the cop beat the shit out of Ed with his nightstick. Ed found out who the cop was and where he lived, and subsequently one night after the cop got new tires on his car Ed slashed them all.

    Ed’s thinking was that the cop had been out of line in beating the shit out of him; the usual punishment for such a shenanigan, not all that unusual in the neighborhood, would have been a severe talking-to, maybe even bringing him home and yelling at his father too. The cop went over the line, and Ed returned the favor.

    I see that kind of difference between turning around a smart car in a parking lot, or moving it up onto a pedestal somewhere, and shoving it in the canal. People nowadays seem less aware of normal limits of behavior.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    But Fincar1, per your story, they were throwing BRICKS at the cop. You don’t say if the cop was hit, but if so, maybe a shit-kicking was in order after all.

    But so would have been a run-in to the police station, followed by an overnight stay in the grey-bar motel while waiting for an arraignment the next business day.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    ZoomZoom, kids throwing bricks off buildings are trying to make someone jump, not kill them.

  • avatar
    wsn

    fincar1, I don’t think the cop went over the line by beating Ed. After all, a stick is nothing compared to a brick thrown from a building.

    If I am to go over the line, I would swing a brick back into Ed’s face. (Notice I used “swing”, not “throw”.)

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