January 2017

Parking spaces

Does it seem like more and more drivers are backing up in parking spaces?

How often do you back up in a parking space, instead of parking forward?

I ask because I guess you do it more than before. This is my totally unscientific observation – but not totally unwarranted.

I base this conclusion on an underground garage near my office that I park a few days a week. Every time I descend into her bowels I notice that almost all vehicle has retreated into its space.

It looks so neat and tidy. I’m sure the parking lots weren’t like that. Two parking experts agreed, stressing that their observations were strictly anecdotal.

Gary cudney is president of Carl Walker Inc., a parking lot design company in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Marie smith is senior vice president of Walker Parking in Indianapolis. (Are all the parking consulting companies called Walker? These two were founded by the same guy, who sold the first and then opened the second.)

Mary said research from the 1980s suggested Americans were half as likely to return to a space as Britons. She thinks it’s because American drivers haven’t learned to back up, while motorists in other countries have.

What we call a parking space, parked engineers call a stall. A well-designed parking garage allows people to enter and exit stalls safely and quickly. Reversing a car – entering or exiting – takes longer. More people seem to be doing this when they arrive rather than when they leave. Why? We launched a few ideas:

It’s easier. Nowadays, reversing cameras and collision avoidance systems are part of the standard equipment of more and more vehicles. While a camera won’t make you a better driver, it can help you with the two or three point turns needed to get back into a stall.

Because of the SUVs. “Backing up into a stall means you can back out, which is a lot safer,” Mary said. “It’s so much harder to see pulling back when you’re parked near SUVs. »More SUVs means more drivers wanting to position themselves for maximum visibility.

We are finally authorized to do so. Gary said he designed parking garages where motorists were told they couldn’t back up. Garage owners often need parking in the front if a monthly parking voucher is displayed on the rear windshield. Some garages have changed their payment methods.

Sometimes, Gary said, garages ban rear parking because a car’s rear overhang – from the rear wheel to the rear bumper – is typically longer than the overhang at the rear. before. If you back up and use a curb to “feel” the space, your rear bumper may hit a wall.

We protect our stuff. Mary said some people told her they came in so that their safe was against the wall, making it difficult for a thief to open it.

We know we will be tired at the end of the day. In the morning, we are relatively cool, able to muster our brain power and coordination. At night all we want to do is go our separate ways. We plan accordingly.

Gary said there might be something to this theory. People arrive at different times in the morning, whereas “at the end of the day it’s more like a peak flow. There is peer pressure: “Everyone supports. If I don’t, I’m screwed. “”

But here’s the weird part: I sometimes park on county-owned surface land near the subway in Silver Spring. Not even a third of the cars are parked there in the back. Why the difference?

I think this is because the above ground garages are more spacious and, since they are open on the sides, less claustrophobic. Going back is not that difficult.

Obviously, more study is needed.

Cold comfort

Good news for custard lovers: the dairy godmother will be back. Liz davis, founder of the 17-year-old custard store in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood, tells me that so many people have expressed interest in taking over her business that she is “certain it can reopen in March.”

Liz said she heard from many interested parties, some with “Wisconsin pedigree” as well as “government workers trying to reinvent themselves.”

Well there is a federal hiring freeze. Maybe these people prefer to work in a place where something else is frozen.


I take a week to work on important projects (squirrel week is coming in April, don’t forget that). Watch for me back in this space on February 6th.

Twitter: @johnkelly

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