Parking Minimums

Bigger cars or smaller parking lots: Modern parking troubles

As a car owner in this day and age, there’s a good chance you have encountered one of these problems caused by either bigger cars or smaller parking lots:

  • Lack of available parking space
  • Small parking areas
  • Difficulty in parking… or all of the above.

Logically, there could be two reasons why this is swiftly becoming a universal problem: either the cars are getting bigger or the lots are getting smaller. Which one is it?

The answer is both. Let’s take a closer look.

Bigger cars or smaller parking lots

The curious case of modern parking troubles: cars and parking lots

  • Cars are getting bigger

Stats say cars today are a record 55% bigger than their predecessors from fifty years ago. Modern cars prioritize safety, but they also make performance a priority. Often the tradeoff is compactness.

Cars today have larger crumple zones and more safety reinforcements for passengers and drivers alike to offer maximum protection from imminent crashes. And that’s not all. They feature bigger engines and storage space without skimping on comfortable seating and legroom spaces either. So, it’s no wonder that car sizes are getting bigger. But herein lies the problem too.

Bigger cars occupy more parking space when parked. And what’s a bigger problem is that these cars remain stationary in parking areas for over 95% of their life. That’s a lot of wasted parking space.

  • Parking lots are getting smaller (in comparison)

Car sizes have grown rapidly over the years, but parking spaces, in contrast, have largely stayed the same.

In the UK, for instance, parking guidelines haven’t changed in over 50 years, meaning the 50-year old parking bay requirements (8 feet width and 16 feet length) still apply. While these requirements are not strict or regulated, even modern parking lots abide by them, given the bay measurements can ensure a high number of parking spaces.

Parking lots in many major cities share a similar fate. Sure, they repaint their lines or change fixtures, or attach new technology to make parking convenient, but the dimensions of parking bays themselves remain the same. Again, this is because zoning regulations require parking areas to retain the same number of stalls.

Together, the growing car size and shrinking parking space pose additional problems. Here are a few you should know.

  • Difficulty in parking vehicles

  • Lesser visibility increases the chances of accidents

  • Greater time required to park vehicles, and more.

How to overcome parking woes

When self-driving cars become mainstream, governments can encourage their adoption. Meanwhile, governments can incentivize ride-sharing and public transport services by making them more accessible and affordable. Introducing smart parking solutions in public parking lots and encouraging private operators to go digital can also go a long way in tackling the issue of insufficient parking spaces effectively.

Conclusion

As technology progresses, one can expect cars to grow even bigger than they are and parking spaces to largely remain the same. The biggest reason for parking spaces remaining the same size is twofold.

One, the available parking spaces are limited and two, reducing the dimensions of parking bays ensures there are more parking bays available per square area. So, the power to combat the problem of shrinking parking spaces lies with government authorities since they can introduce legislation and incentives to alter parking behavior. Naturally, authorities will have to take this role more seriously in the future.

An avid learner, reader and writer.