CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

‘Parking lots are also surprisingly civic…’

Notes Witold Rybczynski, in an interesting slideshow of “ordinary places”:

Parking lots are also surprisingly civic. People politely observe rules of behavior for the sake of the common good, parking between the lines, staying out of the handicapped spaces, driving slowly. It is one place where cars and pedestrians happily coexist.

I’m not sure how happy that coexistence is (e.g., “bad parking”). To wit, this piece from the Washington Post:

[Montgomery County] Employees calculated the numbers and were surprised by the frequency of parking lot accidents. Of the 1,496 pedestrians struck between January 2006 and June 2009, 324 had been hit in parking lots.

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This entry was posted on Friday, August 20th, 2010 at 8:01 am and is filed under Parking, Traffic safety. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

12 Responses to “‘Parking lots are also surprisingly civic…’”

  1. fred_dot_u Says:

    From the Washington Post piece, “We don’t think of it as a place where lives are at stake, but they can be.”

    I believe that part of the culture of the automobile is the lack of recognizing that the danger is the vehicle AND the operator. Too much legislature and technical “advancement” is appearing as improving the safety of the automobile, but ONLY on the mechanical side. Five mile per hour bumpers, air bags, dynamic stability control, all these things allow the operator to be more incompetent and yet survive a crash. I defy anyone to show me how an injury from a motor vehicle is an accident. The article used “accident” so many times, when it’s not an accident at all.

    Countries in which drivers are held responsible until proven otherwise appear to recognize this, in my opinion. My reference material may be suspect, of course, as it comes from the internet.

  2. Roberta Says:

    I wonder if it has something to do with motorist vulnerability and relative lack of anonymity in a parking lot. You’re moving slowly and people can see you; you might be getting out of your car and leaving it unattended. It’s easier to be rude when you’re travelling away at high speeds, where there would be no repercussions to rudeness unless someone actually chases you down.

  3. fred_dot_u Says:

    Roberta, that’s an excellent point of view. As one who has “chased down” a dangerous/stupid/inconsiderate driver (foolishly so), I’ve found when the anonymity goes away, the whole game changes.

  4. Stina Says:

    i want to know how long it takes to read this book….im 16 and it is my required reading for summer.

  5. Josh R Says:

    I hate it when I see an article like this, which has obviously slipped through a crack in the time-space continuum from a different reality. I want to live in that pastoral world where people actually pay attention to their parking, look before backing out of a space, and don’t go 20 MPH in the mall parking lots.

  6. 2whls3spds Says:

    And just where is this fictional parking lot?

    Aaron

  7. Bob P. Says:

    I was innocently getting a day pack from our back seat in a parking lot in February, and the driver of a SUV next to us backed out, pinning my legs in the door. My wife saw this, and ran yelling at the driver. He was completely unaware that he was bending our door around my legs. I am recovering slowly, but am now hyper sensitive to cars in parking lots.

  8. Rich Wilson Says:

    I have yet to see a parking lot that shows any evidence of pedestrians in mind. In rare cases where there are pedestrian only right of ways, they don’t feed all parking spots.

  9. John Romeo Alpha Says:

    I have a theory which is 100% counter-intuitive but which I’ve tested and had good results with several times. The more crowded and tense a parking lot is, for example after a concert or sporting event, the more effective excessively polite behavior is at supporting the fastest possible exit. I think it’s effective because it means acting exactly the opposite of almost everyone else, in a situation where I don’t want to be like everyone else. Everyone else is mad, impolite, and stuck, so I act happy, polite, and not-stuck, and get out fast. Even if it’s just a point of view or attitude, I exit happy and relaxed.

  10. Jack Says:

    BobP, ouch! Luckily your wife was there to save you. Crowded lots make everyone slow down but they remain nightmares when walking with young children. Add driveways too… frequently my young sons tell me how they had to swerve while cycling on neighborhood streets to miss a car backing out of a driveway.

  11. Stefan Hayden Says:

    I have a friend who recently hit and killed some one in a garage. They are definitely places where both cars and people need to be careful as there are a lot of blind spots where you can be surprised by another car or person.

  12. John Says:

    Where I live, about 10% of drivers consider parking lots (especially ones with lots of little kids) autocross zones. They drive around 40mph whilst talking on cell phones.

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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