Monday, January 14, 2008

Asda car-park policy, but really car-parks in general

So Asda are field testing/rolling-out/contemplating tougher action on applying fines for people without families using the family bays in their car-parks. The BBC reporter asked if they could do this and the Asda spokesman replied that the company enforcing the fines were DVLA etc accredited. Dumb question it's their car-park and they can set it out however they want, if they find that black people spend more then white people then Asda could set up Black-Only spaces next to the store entrance. Ummm, it's at this point you have to step back and take a look at this entire policy.

For the disabled it makes sense. More space is required to get out of the vehicle, remove any equipment, and then get into the store. So wider bays closer to the entrance. Exactly the same applies to families, except possibly for the need to be close to the store. So these two groups need these extra considerations, except why are these extra considerations at all; what about everyone else? The elderly may need to open the door to the full extent to lever themselves out, as might the overweight; they'd also like to be closer to the entrance. What about people with wonking huge SUVs, people trying to get shopping into the back seat because the boot is full, do none of these people matter?

Well to be blunt no. There's a finite amount of space and so to maximise the number of cars that can park you need to minimise the width of the bays and pretty much anything that prevents cars parking.

Before I continue I want to make it clear this isn't some personal rant. I've got a small car (but perfectly formed) which fits neatly into these spaces and I'm thin (but perfectly formed) so I don't need to open my door to the full extent. I do however not always use my car directly next to the stores I enter and so at times may be considered a pedestrian.

I've mentioned before on occasion how much car-park designs annoy the hell out of me, time to dissect them a bit more picking on the local Crossley Retail Park for starters. In the picture below the main retail car-park is the red/beige area on the right, with Sainsbury's in grey on the left. For those who want to browse around the previous link is to FlashEarth and all subsequent links should open in the same window or tab (may not automatically switch to it though).
This should have been easy, it's a new site so you're not restricted by what was there before you can design it the right way... yeah okay. Looking at this you'll notice the lack of any form of pedestrian access, no wait there are in fact three zebra crossings on this car-park see them in a row at the top end of the estate. Who are these for? The only time I've ever used them is when I've been taking photos, the only people I've seen using them are walking to their cars which are parked next to them.

Let's try something a little more obvious, walking from town and trying to get to Curry's which is the very first main building on the estate, should be easy. Take a look...
So coming in from the bottom right you cross the first lane to the divider, then the second to the retail park. You then turn left and head through the no-parking car bay and find yourself in the middle of the car-park road. You now have to work to the right around the bush behind all the parked cars until you get to that yellow section of pavement. Of course what you're supposed to do is ignore that car-bay and continue along the pavement to your left until you get to the crossing point there then cross the two lanes to get to the yellow pavement and walk along the side of the building. Except there is no crossing point there, no alteration in the main pavement to indicate it as such.

I'm being silly of course, you ignore that and walk up the pavement on your right by the side of the car-park until you get to the zebra crossings, you remember those don't you the ones at the top of the estate. Duh I'm still being silly you simply walk up until you get to the next car entrance and use that...
Note the lack of pavement leading into the car-park, note that unless you cross the road you'll be walking with your back to the traffic, see the bushes preventing you from even trying to walk on that section. Discover with joy that once you reach the end of this road section you can't simply continue across the road, but have to walk around all the cars parked in front of you until you finally reach the safety of another pavement. Those people using the links might notice the pedestrian crossing across the road, make a note that this too leads into a no-parking car-bay and straight back into the car-park.

But hey that's all pedestrian this and pedestrian that, who cares they got no money it's the cars we're interested in. Well take a look at the first picture again, do you see any safe way for anyone parking here to get to the stores except for the three zebra crossings at the very top?

At least Sainsbury's provide a pedestrianised walkway in their car-park. Well one anyway.
Great if you park in either of the two rows that bracket it, sucks if you don't or can't. No dedicated no-parking car-bays here so you can either squeeze past the cars or the trolley parks. Or you can just walk along the road until you get to the end and then still walk on the road past the bushes they've planted to make it look all pretty and obscure the driver's view of the road. Or you can just do what everyone else does and just walk up the middle of the road until you get to the store.

Okay I've diverged from the beginning of this entry, but not by that much really. Although some people are getting the extra space and nearness to the store, despite that even these special bays can be filled and those people too will find themselves trying to open doors and scurry along roads, kids in tow, until they reach the safety of the pavement.

Next time you park your car in a car-park and step out look around you. How easy is it for you to get to a pavement or other pedestrian only area?