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point of view

Parallel Parking, PIE, Eight Short Years and Change

John Van Horn


Ah, yes -- on street parking. Not my forte, either on the professional side or the personal. I don't have a lot of experience in the enforcement business, except on the receiving end of a few citations. I do, however, have a lot of experience with the bane of all drivers: the parallel parking space.
The concept was invented by those who would make the lot of the ordinary driver full of pain and misery. Sure, you say, you can make the perfect three point parallel park. Your car ends up three inches from the curb. There isn't a mark on your tires, nor on the car in front or behind. A perfect 10.
Frankly, I don't believe it. I believe that a perfect parallel park is blind luck.
I did a quick survey the other day. I stood on a busy street here in Los Angeles and watched people park. Out of ten, there wasn't one that did a job that would rate a seven.
Parallel parkers fall into classes. First there's the traditionalist. They pull up next to the car in front, back up until their steering wheel is in line with the back bumper of the car, cut the wheel, and bingo, they are in. Well, I did see a number of drivers start out that way, but there was a lot of jockeying, and backing and forthing, before more than one gave up and drove off to look for a larger spot. In my estimation the spot was plenty big enough, they just needed to believe that it wasn't.
Then there's the "front in first." Yep, they drive up by the rear car, cut the wheel and "zip" into the space. Well that works fine if you are driving a Mini and the space is designed for a Navigator. However most of my survey left their cars 30 inches from the curb after backing and forthing a dozen times.
Of course there's the ever-popular "combined" method. These are the folks that try both.
What ever happened to angle parking? Cities tell me that it's inefficient, blocks traffic, causes accidents, and probably is responsible for original sin. Well maybe so, but from my driver's seat, it sure beats the "parallel shuffle."
* * *
In just a short six weeks, we will be in Philadelphia for the Conference of Parking Technology and the Parking Industry Exhibition. I am most excited about the prospects for the seminars and training programs. We are changing the thrust a bit this year, with in-depth seminars, an expanded boot camp, and an advanced program for those with experience in parking.
The "Business of Parking" is our theme and that's what we do at PIE -- business. There are opportunities to meet and talk turkey with vendors, time to listen to presentations and even participate and give your opinion or experience. This is going to be a great three days.
The most exciting will be the presentation by Jeff Bercuvitz. If you come for nothing else, come to see Jeff. His targeted and parking-related high-energy presentation will leave you breathless, and you will learn a lot, too. Those who saw Jeff at the Canadian Parking Association meeting last fall will attest to the fact that he is the very best.
See you there.
* * *
The January issue of PT is hardly on the street and reaction to our myriad articles by industry wags is coming in fast and furious. It was a hot issue, and a bit of what you will be seeing on these pages over the next year. We are reaching out to more writers, with new ideas and ways to present our topic clearly and fairly.
We are beginning our eighth year. It's difficult not to smile when I remember the naysayers in the beginning. The best line was that we were told that we would run out of material for articles in six issues. There just wasn't enough to say about parking. Did you know that many newcomers to our industry think that PT has always been there?
* * *
February -- the middle of winter. Our friends in the Northeast will be glad to see that caboose on this train. Parking operators from Maine to Atlanta, from Dallas to Cleveland are feeling the punch of a very hard winter. It means higher operating expenses, lower revenue and problems that never end from power outages from flooding to snow, from slip and falls to... what am I telling you? You are out there in it.
* * *
January is a time for change, and our little company is no exception. Our Art Director for almost seven years, Sandie Rhodes, is leaving us. The very look of PT and our sister publication (the Campus Safety Journal) is the results of her talents and hard work. This is Sandie's last issue. She will be missed.

Article Abstract from February, 2003




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