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Facility Focus October 2017

Innovative Parking Lot Design Makes Business Sense

October 06, 2017
KEYWORDS design / parking / pavement / spaces
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People create their first impression of a facility long before they enter the front door. Without even being conscious of it, they are evaluating the ease of finding the location, the clarity of the signage, and the cleanliness and convenience of the parking.

Far from being peripheral issues, these facility elements are influential on customers’ continued willingness to deal with a business.

Plan for Flow and Convenience

Technology affects every area of life, including the parking lot industry. Drivers use apps to check for available parking spots and determine the traffic flow en route. However, age-old wisdom for parking lot design still applies, such as ensuring there is enough space for turning in and out of parking spaces. A stress-free parking experience is likely to result in a regular flow of repeat customers.

Traffic flow is a critical aspect of parking lot design. One-way lanes should be clearly identified. A circular road around the edge of a parking lot ensures that vehicles entering or exiting the lot are not held up by vehicles pulling into or backing out of parking spaces.

Traffic control at entrances and exits is important as this congested area can be the cause of confusion and accidents. Facility managers need to make sure clear signage and road markings separate the entrance lanes from the exit lanes so that traffic moves efficiently into and out of the parking lot. Use parking bollards to create physical barriers to separate these zones, so there is no chance of a vehicle exiting via the entrance lane and vice versa. It is also a good idea to slow down traffic as lanes converge and vehicles approach exit barriers by using strategically placed speed bumps.

Entering and exiting parking spaces are high-risk activities. Backing out of a parking space creates blind spots and the associated risk of striking another vehicle or even a pedestrian. Angled spaces are easier to get into and out of, but 90-degree spaces are more space efficient. The greater the angle one needs to turn into, the more road space is needed, meaning that driving lanes must be wider for 90-degree parking spaces. Best practice dictates using 90-degree spaces where drivers will be parking for the entire day, and angled spaces where there will be many arrivals and departures. The easier entry and exit that the angles create cause less congestion and lower the potential for accidents.

As drivers position their vehicles close to obstacles while parking, safety aids prevent them from damaging their vehicle. Parking stops warn that they are close to the edge, while wall guards protect car doors as they open and close.

Parking lots are a high-risk area for pedestrians, especially children. Their short stature makes them particularly vulnerable when vehicles are backing up and the view of the driver is limited. Provide adequate walk ways and pedestrian crossings to keep people out of the way of vehicles. Utilize parking bollards again to keep pedestrian areas and motor vehicle areas separate.

Construct for Sustainability

A leading cause of parking lot failure is water damage. Depending on the level of the underground water table or the proximity of underground springs, some subsurface drainage may be required before completing the pavement construction.

Manage each layer of construction carefully to ensure the integrity of the parking lot surface. Strengthen weak areas of the subgrade by adding crushed stone or concrete asphalt. Add the correct grade and thickness of aggregate and compact it so the surface can handle heavy loads. Then add the asphalt pavement, rolled and compacted to create the desired finish. Apply a sealant to the surface to inhibit water damage.

It is critical that the pavement slopes toward the drainage gutters or ditches on the edge of the parking lot so that rain water does not pond on the surface. Design drainage systems to remove water from the pavement as efficiently as possible. Any water buildup or flow on the pavement surface can lead to cracks and defects, which will lead to the collapse of subgrade underneath the pavement.

Keep Up With Maintenance

Once your parking lot is commissioned and in use, its general appearance and cleanliness will deteriorate over time. Visitors can be careless with their litter, while oil spills and the buildup of grime can leave stains on the concrete.

Regular power washing will effectively remove grime and oil, and help keep the surface looking new. Pressure washer distributors can advise on the most suitable pressure, nozzle angel and detergent.

Make a habit of picking up litter daily, to keep the parking lot appealing to customers and staff alike. Regularly repainting road markings and signs also contribute to the parking lot’s overall appearance.

Consider Advances in Parking Lot Design

Economic pressure to keep parking lot operating costs low has led to technological innovations in parking lot design.

Electricity is a primary operation cost, as security and pedestrian safety require heavy illumination. Advances in led lighting technology and solar panels allow facility managers to cut back on electricity usage. The move to automated pay stations has eliminated the need for pay cubicles and staff costs.

Drivers especially value innovations that provide information. led boards and even smart phone apps guide drivers to open parking spaces, making their experience easier and the likelihood of their return higher.

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