Pedestrians and Parking Lots ... Fixing the Mix

01.18.19   Anthony B. Thomas, PE | More by this Author

Pedestrians and Parking Lots ... Fixing the Mix

We’ve all seen it happen.

Envision the office parking lot on Monday morning. Everyone is rushing to get their week underway. A pedestrian walking and talking on the phone, not watching for the coworker driving around searching for a parking spot, still a little groggy after weekend overtime work, is very distracted. Suddenly brakes squeal and papers fly from dropped bags. No one is hurt, but it is still not the way anyone wants to start the day.

Pedestrian and vehicle interaction in parking lots is a growing concern for property owners. As technology continues to advance, both drivers and walkers are becoming more and more distracted. And a strong economy means that parking lots are seeing more and more people going to work or out shopping. When distraction and density combine, parking lots are quickly becoming more dangerous than ever before.

For more than 10 years, SME has been helping property owners optimize their parking lots to ensure pedestrians have the best access to the building with the least interaction with vehicles. There are several ways to accomplish this:

  • Striping – Simple striping plans help identify driving and walking lanes.
  • Calming Devices – Narrow lanes, speed bumps, stop signs, and stop bars are all effective ways to slow traffic in a parking lot, and help drivers and pedestrians recognize where they need to stop to let others through.
  • Hardscaping – Building sidewalks and curbs helps separate pedestrians from drivers.

The key to successful parking lot design is reviewing the site to identify the zones where vehicle and pedestrian interaction is highest. Then, a design can be built around these nodal points to find the best route for both cars and people to move within the space.

There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for safe parking lot design. In some instances, re-striping does the trick. In others, a full evaluation and redirection of traffic flow is required. SME can design a mock-up of vehicle-pedestrian interaction to help owners design the safest plan for their site. For more information, contact Anthony B. Thomas, PE.

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