Magazine

The Undead’s Guide to Parking Consulting

Ponderings from Halloween Just Past

By Matt Feagins

We here at PT are speechless, but felt you deserved to judge this article for yourself. We have it on good authority that Matt was clean and sober when he wrote this piece. Editor.
There is one theme I have been seeing a lot of lately at the bookstores – tomes about the Undead. The Undead have always been considered “cool,” but they are now especially popular in the world of words. This was even before the seasonal release of Halloween-themed books now on store shelves.
Whether it’s a book on how to survive a zombie attack or the pathology of a zombie, the Underworld is everywhere.
That got me to thinking: What would happen if the Undead took over the world? How would the parking consultant be affected (and hopefully not infected)? I know what you are thinking: “Huh? What kind of connection is there?”
For those who follow a philosophy of mind theory, a zombie is basically a person without a sentient consciousness. These creatures appear in folklore and popular culture typically as reanimated corpses or mindless human beings, and are mainly used for thought experiments.
So, I contemplated, zombies would be a good idea for a “thought experiment” regarding parking consulting. What if the world we live in had to coexist with a world filled with zombies? Would that change all that we love about our jobs as parking consultants, as well as what we regard as inherently compelling about the world of parking? Unfortunately, I think it would.
First of all, it would be difficult to work without being interrupted by those pesky zombies trying to break into your office and eat your brains. We all know that parking consultants are the smartest guys in the room (despite what those Enron guys thought). As such, our grey matter would be in high demand by the gourmands of the zombie world.
For zombie clients, our level-of-service calculators would have to be totally redesigned. After all, zombies rarely, if ever, drive cars. As a matter of fact, they tend to hate cars, because those not yet infected tend to run them over.
We all tend to agree that open, airy garages make for better wayfinding. But, as those who are fans of Hollywood horror movies know, parking garages are good places in which bad things can happen.
Zombies would rather see the return of dark basement-like parking facilities with lots of hiding places, so they can jump out and attack their unknowing victims. Hidden elevators, claustrophobic ceiling heights, and flickering lights causing ever shifting shadows are all that are needed to complete the wayfinding picture.
As long as you can’t find your way out of there, the zombies have it made.
Another important element in the level-of-service picture is traffic flow and ramping used. Most users prefer angle parking because it’s quicker to get in and out of the spaces. Zombies don’t like that. The longer we take to back out of the space, the better able they are to pull you from your “metal safe-house.”
Parking consultants would love to use express ramps on most every job, if cost considerations and efficiency allowed.
The Undead don’t like those steep ramps at all. We do tend to agree with them in one respect, though. For traffic calming purposes, we don’t like really long parking runs. For the Undead, really long parking runs, and their attendant greater speeds, make it harder to grab passing vehicles for a quick snack on-the-go.
One last factor we use in determining the level of service is the overall geometry of the facility and its parking spaces. Of course, bay widths and parking space widths are important and tend to have an inverse relationship to each other in some regard. If we have wider spaces, we can get away with narrower parking bays and vice versa.
On the other hand, the uninfected and the Undead have a totally inverse relationship. We don’t like them and they do like us (to eat).
Redesigning the level of service, of course, would be just one of the inconveniences of living in such a world. Working in AutoCAD while pedaling on a bike hooked to a generator to make electricity would also be pretty inconvenient. Let’s just hope that it never comes to this.
Although, with the economy chugging along slowly as it has been recently, that time may come sooner than we like. I think I hear some shuffling feet and moaning outside. … I hope it’s just my boss and not something else.
Matt Feagins is a Principal and Senior Parking Consultant Walter P Moore. If you want to chance it, he can be reached at MFeagins@walterpmoore.com or (800) 364-7300.

Article Abstract from November, 2009




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