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Friday
Mar082013

Parking Space Width isn’t Rocket Science

By Al Vinikour  

The disparity among parking space widths never ceases to amaze me. Seldom is there a parking place whose outside lines allow room to comfortably park your vehicle with enough space to open the doors on either side without putting a crease in the cars next to you. Believe me when I tell you that it’s only a matter of time before this damage is reciprocated.

It doesn’t take a degree in physics for someone to figure out that, if there’s barely enough width to park a Hyundai Accent, you sure as hell aren’t going to park your Bentley Arnage in the same spot. I’ve been trying to come up with a reason why parking spots  are designed with no consistency, besides unbridled stupidity, and the best excuse I can come up with is that parking spots are designed with unbridled stupidity.

You tell me how long it takes to send a “work crew” (and by that I mean two guys and a ruler) to measure the width of a typical luxury vehicle… and then measure the doors, add half their length to each side of the measurement and come up with the dimensional width needed for each car. Then, someone could text Euclid, the great mathematician and give him the total length and width of the parking lot… and then feed Euc (when you know him as well as I do…) the dimensions your findings figure for each vehicle. I guarandamntee you that my friend Euc will come up with the total number of parking spaces you can put in your lot without it becoming known as the Door Denting Dominion of America (D³A).

There’s a place we journalists in Detroit frequent for press events and other auto-related functions. I don’t want to mention any names, but for the sake of discussion let’s refer to this place as the Detroit Athletic Club. If the parking deck is filling up because of a special program, you have two choices: either leave the car with the valet and let them find two pieces of bread to sandwich your vehicle between; or members should demand the facility hire an off-duty or unemployed marshaller from a commercial airport whose training is in guiding aircraft into parking lanes when they pull up to the jetway. Whatever he gets paid from the parking facility can be buried in, and amortized across the fees charged for parking. If this guy (let’s call him Bert) can guide in a Boeing 777 then he sure as hell can point the way so your Buick won’t get scratched up or your suit ripped as you’re trying to squeeze out.

Think of this if you don’t mind thinking of this. How often have you parked dead center between two lines at a parking lot, exited your vehicle, done your business and go back to your vehicle… only to see that the inconsiderate schmuck next to you has parked on the line, and you couldn’t fit through your door if you were covered in Vaseline. If you’ve really led a good, clean life then there will be enough room for you to get in the passenger door, climb over the center console, and then do a pirouette like some ballet dancer so you can turn around and face the front of the vehicle as you plop down (hopefully) in the driver’s seat.

Let’s say you haven’t led a clean life. In that case the vehicle on your right side is also parked on the line. Again you have two choices: You can either break a window in your vehicle and crawl through it to get to the driver’s seat, or you can wait for one of those two miscreants to show up. Keep in mind that every minute that goes by your anger will increase to the boiling point, and when one of the two offending owners arrive you’ll have amassed enough blind rage to maim or kill him.

However… a good lawyer will get you acquitted because it is not your fault. Technically, the cars on either side of you are parked legally — on the line or not. So the only one left to blame is the parking lot owner who’s responsible for setting the parking place widths in the first place. In the case of municipal parking lots, or even street parking, it would be the fault of the governing body who hired somebody with a B.S. degree in Parking Management who set the parameters allowed per vehicle in the first place.

I believe in giving credit where credit is due, and kudos to the owners of shopping malls who generally do a good job of ensuring there’s ample parking room for each of their customers’ vehicles. It’s obvious they’re hiring top-tier graduates from Parking Control Institutes throughout North America, and are probably paying them well because they definitely are getting their money’s worth.

My advice to parking lot moguls is this: You don’t need to rent time in a Vietnam-era Huey “Slick” to get a good aerial view in planning a good environment for your customers. Go to Home Depot and buy a 12-ft ladder, and send some guy to the top rung with a disposable camera from Walgreens. His photos will give you better intelligence for maximizing business while minimizing customer complaints and damage claims. Afterwards you can always have one of your workers return the ladder for a full refund.

Why do I always have to come up with solutions for some of you people who have MBAs from Ivy League Schools, but can’t figure out simple division? I went to school in Indiana. We live in an entire country with millions of square miles of potential parking spaces. Give us some room, will you?

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