Parking issues

Today’s guest post comes from Clyde.

Twenty years ago (Can it be 20 years?) when my partner and I started working together, we got into a fun argument about how to find a spot in parking lots.

The Clyde Method: find the first empty spot that looks about as close to the door as you are likely to get.

The John Method: drive around to find a spot as close as possible to the entrance.

Do you use the Clyde Method or the John Method for parking?

Our debate was over which of us had a more efficient method, which of us wasted more time: my longer walk or his longer drive. After three of four years of this, I was driving across Massachusetts, the eastern half of which is a full parking lot, when I heard WGBH public radio doing a report right to the heart of the matter. A graduate student in math at MIT was looking for a thesis project. He and his wife had the exact same difference in their parking methods and same debate. He developed a sound method for measuring it and found a mathematically-sound answer to the question. As it happens his model has applications for measuring and improving traffic flow and parking.

Wonder what his study found? I’ll tell you at the end of the day—maybe.

Today my parking quandaries are focused more on handicapped parking. My wife has a tag, which is in its way more of a problem than a solution. It was wonderful when we went to visit our son in California, and maybe now when we go to Seattle. Before we had the tag, we were with him in San Diego years ago visiting all the wonderful sights of that city, all with huge parking lots, when he declared that his parents were at that awkward in-between stage, old and slow moving but not yet old enough for a handicapped parking tag.

My problems with handicapped parking are fourfold, all exacerbated by my bad back which makes it impossible for me to turn my head very far:

Handicapped parking is always at the busiest place in the parking lot, right by the entrance with heavy foot and vehicle traffic.

Handicapped spots almost always require you to back out; they have that post with the blue sign at the front of them.

Many of the other people who park in those spots simply should not be driving anymore. So you have to be ready to dodge them.

Many of those who park in the spots have large vehicles, some because they are wheelchair vans, but many are just large vehicles.

A neighbor of mine says that at the local car dealership where he works the most popular sale is for extended cab full-size pickups, often to those with handicapped parking rights. Because I drive a small Scion black box, I frequently have to back out blind into unseen busy foot and vehicular traffic. Scary.

I have a problem leaving parking spots almost anywhere in a busy lot because of the tunnel vision caused by so many Intimida-look-alikes, many of them in the winter with snow plows. I usually drop my wife and her walker at the door and then park far out in the lot with my car facing out. Sometimes my waif of a car still ends up hidden between two bullies.

There is another problem with handicapped parking only a few places have solved, which does not effect us. The cart corrals are out in the middle of the parking lot. So what is then the benefit of the handicapped parking? Some people just leave the cart right there, and it often rolls into a parking spot, blocking it from the next handicapped driver to come along. I have seen some non-handicapped people just leave their unloaded cart in an empty handicapped spot. Two new large busy parking lots have been built here, neither of which provided a cart corral by the handicapped parking. As usual in America it is the appearance of things that matters more than the actual results.

But I have a moral question for you to solve for me. You would be surprised how often this occurs. Some parking lots have very large numbers of handicapped parking spots, often many sitting unused on a busy day. I pull into a busy parking lot with several handicapped spots available. However, also right by those spots is a non-blue spot.

Which should I take? To which community, the handicapped or the non-handicapped, should I try to be fair?