That’s why you should re-enter perpendicular parking lots


This surfaced on Facebook once. The question was rhetorical, I think. It was something like “People returning to parking lots: why?” I don’t think this friend expected genuine answers, but there were genuine answers. When all is said and done, I don’t know if this person ever adopted the back-in method, but he clearly understood and empathized with those of us who practice it most of the time. There are very good reasons why backing up is best practice.

The implication is that you have to wait for the person to make such a maneuver. I suspect that if you are in a hurry to park, it could be frustrating, especially if the driver hasn’t given enough guidance on his intentions.

I haven’t looked at the studies on this phenomenon and I’m not sure they exist. But, anecdotally, here is my experience, along with the reasons why I think that in the vast majority of situations, both for the individual and for the greater good to return to a perpendicular parking lot.

Parking can be just as fast when reversing. Having the wheels that turn backwards makes it easier to lean sharply in reverse, reducing or eliminating the need to back up and straighten.

Leaving the parking lot is much faster than saving another multi-part turn. Most likely, you are gaining more time for your exit than you have sacrificed to go back. This also saves time for everyone around you. This is especially true for event parking when everyone goes out at the same time.

It is safer for you and yours. Pulling back from a perpendicular parking lot into a narrow parking structure meant putting my child (or anyone else in the back seat) in danger before they could even assess the situation. The proliferation of reversing cameras has helped. Rear cross traffic warnings and automatic reverse braking help even more, but we shouldn’t put ourselves in positions where we totally rely on this technology or, even worse, rely on others to see or anticipate you retiring.

It is also safe for everyone around you. You can actually see that person walking on the road to their car, and you can see that vehicle waiting for someone else to come back.

It can save things or scratches. Whatever car I drive, it is more likely to have a reversing camera than to have one in front. With that camera, I can make sure I don’t scratch a splitter on a sidewalk or touch a sign or other car with my bumper. If I am pulling forward, I often leave enough distance to know that my front end will not be maimed by the surrounding environment, which can leave my rear protruding where it is most likely to be hit. By going back and using the camera, I can fill that void as much as I want, shoving my car into its parking lot as deeply as possible. But hey, you don’t have to take my word for it.

What if someone invades too close so they can’t go back? Well, what do you do when you park side by side on a street? You had the turn signal on (please tell me you had the turn signal on) to indicate where you planned to park. They should have paid attention, and it is up to them to understand that. They can decide whether to go back to give you the room back (assuming they can) or go around you.

Of course, there are times when there is no point in going back. Maybe you need extra space to load the rear cargo area. With some electric vehicles, as the Nissan Leaf, sometimes it makes more sense to park your nose inside for easier access to the charger. And of course, if a sign or valet tells you to park with your nose inside, you should listen, even if it’s a stupid rule … James.

So do it. Just like I leave you room to unite in a true assemblage point, I will gladly wait for you to come back to your parking lot so I don’t have to wait for you to go out blindly later. This is the way.

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