Here’s why you should go back to perpendicular parking spaces


This appeared on Facebook once. The question was rhetorical, I think. It was something like “People returning to parking spaces: Why?” I don’t think this friend expected genuine answers, but there were genuine answers. When all was said and done, I don’t know if this person ever adopted the throwback method, but he clearly understood and empathized with those of us who practice it most of the time. There are great reasons backtracking is a best practice.

The implication is that you have to wait for the person to perform that maneuver. I suspect that if you are in a rush to park it could be frustrating, especially if the driver did not give enough indications of his intentions.

I have not examined studies on this phenomenon and I am not sure they exist. But anecdotally, here is my experience, along with the reasons why I believe that in the vast majority of situations, it is both for the individual and for the common good to back up into a perpendicular parking space.

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

Exiting the parking space is much faster than saving another multi-part turn. Most likely, you are buying more time on your outing than you sacrificed to go back. That also saves everyone around you time. This is especially true for event parking when everyone leaves at once.

It is safer for you and yours. Pulling out of a perpendicular parking spot into a narrow parking structure meant I was putting my son (or anyone in the back seat) in danger before I could assess the situation. The proliferation of rear view cameras has helped. Rear cross traffic and automatic rear alerts braking help even more, but we must not put ourselves in positions where we are totally dependent on this technology or, worse still, depending on others to see or anticipate its decline.

It is also safe for everyone around you. In fact, you can see that person walking on the way to their own car, and you can see that vehicle waiting for someone else to get out again.

It can save things or scrapes. Whichever car you drive, it is more likely to have a rearview camera than one in the front. With that camera, I can make sure I’m not going to scrape a divider on a curb or hit a signpost or other car with my bumper. If I’m moving forward, I often give myself enough distance to know that my front is not going to be spoiled by its surroundings, which can cause my rear to stick out where it is most likely to be hit. By backing up and using the camera, I can close that gap as much as I want, tucking my car into its parking spot as deeply as possible. But hey you don’t have to take my word for it.

What if someone gets too close so you can’t turn back? Well, what do you do when you parallel park on a street? He had his turn signal on (please tell me he had his turn signal on) to indicate where he planned to park. They should have paid attention, and the onus is on them to figure it out. They decide whether to backtrack to give you back the space (assuming they can) or go around it.

Of course, there are times when it doesn’t make sense to go back. You may need additional space to load the rear cargo area. With some electric vehicles, As the Nissan leaf, sometimes it makes more sense to park straight ahead to facilitate access to the charger. And obviously, if a sign or parking attendant tells you to park straight ahead, you have to listen, even if it’s a silly rule … James.

So do it. Like I’ll leave you room to merge into a real melting pointI will gladly wait for you to return to your parking space so I don’t have to wait for you to blindly exit later. This is the way.

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