Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Parking Lot Stripes

As residual snow melted from the St. Paul’s parking lot this winter, I noticed that the striping that defines the parking spaces was growing fainter and fainter. Clearly, the lines will have to be repainted soon. When we do that, I hope that we will adopt an improved striping pattern. We may not be able to create additional parking spaces, but we can free up a little space for cars to maneuver.

I say this because of the way cars are being parked in the center of the lot. There, the pattern of stripes looks something like this:

Current striping pattern
(Drawings here are not to scale, and my angles may be a bit off.)

I propose that the pattern of stripes be more like the following, a pattern you can see, say, in the Lebanon Shops parking lot:

Proposed striping pattern
Presumably, painting lines in this pattern is marginally more time-consuming than painting lines in the current, simpler pattern. There is, however, a payoff. In the figure below, the red rectangles represent vehicles:

Current parking pattern
Most drivers, I think, park their vehicles as close to the stripe ahead of them as possible without going over the line. When two vehicles facing one another do this, a gap is left between the front bumpers. The alternative striping pattern, on the other hand encourages vehicles to park bumper-to-bumper (or very close to it). The result is that the lanes in back of each of the vehicles are a bit wider.

How much wider? A little geometry and trigonometry will reveal that the answer depends on the angle at which the stripes defining parking places are defined and the average width of a vehicle. Using the 60 degrees and 6 feet, which I think are in the right ball park, the revised striping scheme adds 1-1/2 feet to each of the driving lanes. Why wouldn’t we want to gain that foot and a half?

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