Parking lot (called a car park in
countries such as Malaysia, Australia, United Kingdom and Ireland), also known as "car lot", is a cleared area that
is more or less level and is intended for parking vehicles.
A parking lot with landscaping and a
diagonal parking pattern designed for one-way traffic.
Usually, the term refers to
a dedicated area that has been provided with a durable or
In most countries where cars
dominant mode of transportation
parking lots are a feature of every city and suburban area.
, sports stadiums
similar venues often feature parking lots of immense area.
Design and locational considerations
The usual parking lot is paved with asphalt
. Some are paved with concrete
. Many are gravel
lots. A few of the newer lots are surfaced with permeable paving
Parking lots have their own special type of engineering
. While parking lots have
traditionally been an overlooked element of development projects by
governmental oversight, the recent trend has been to provide
regulations for the configuration and spacing of parking lots,
, and drainage
Parking lots can be small, with just parking spaces
for a few vehicles, very large
with spaces for thousands of vehicles, or any size in between.
Small parking lots are usually near buildings for small businesses
or a few apartments, although many other locations are possible.
Larger parking lots can be for larger businesses or those with many
customers, institutions such as schools, churches, offices, or
other tourist attractions, rest areas, strip malls, or larger
Some such businesses, institutions, or other buildings may have
several parking lots if a single large lot cannot accommodate their
parking needs. Large and very large parking fields can be for
or shopping centers with multiple
businesses, large schools or universities
, convention centers
or fair grounds,
theaters, workplaces with many employees such as factories, plants,
etc., or other large institutions. Often several businesses,
offices, apartment buildings, or other institutions may use one or
more parking lots in common for their convenience.
At places where most visitors and employees use their car to access
place, the parking lot usually takes up more land area than the
buildings. This is at least true for shopping centres and office
buildings, unless a multi-storey park is used.
Parking lots near businesses, buildings, or institutions are often
implicitly understood or explicitly labelled to be for the use of
their respective customers or visitors, often with special vehicle
spaces for the owners and employees. Parking lots around apartment
buildings are often exclusively intended for parking use of their
residents, although sometimes separate spaces may be provided for
visitors. Such parking for businesses, offices, and residences is
often free to the customers, patrons, or residents.
In most cases, especially in areas where parking is scarce, one
must pay to park in a parking lot. Entry and exit access is often
controlled at these type of lots to ensure those parking pay the
required fee. The types of products used to enforce payment are
called access controls. Automated payment, entry and exit systems
can reduce the need for employees and can reduce payment losses.
One way traffic spikes (tiger teeth), automated gates and tire
spikes, and signage contribute to control of a fee-based parking
lot. Examples of these products can be seen here: 
In many congested areas where some businesses lack their own
parking areas, there are parking lots where practically any driver
can pay a fee to park. These types of parking lots are often
effectively businesses in themselves. Some parking lots have
into which coins must
be paid to park in the adjacent space.
Some spaces in a parking lot may be marked as "reserved" for
certain people, including those who are handicapped. There are
often one or more parking spaces for handicapped
people, which may be slightly wider,
close to the point of entry for the corresponding store or
building. Vehicles with handicapped tags may park there, but the
non-handicapped are not allowed to.
Car park from above.
Although many parking lots are rectangularly-shaped, there are
parking lots of all sorts of shapes. A parking lot can be in front
or back, on the side of the building it services, or any
combination of these, including all around the building, often
depending on local building codes
a very large parking field, it is easy to get lost or have trouble
finding one's vehicle. Such large parking lots often have various
sections marked, for example by numbers or letters, to help
identify the location.
The area in parking lots is organized into parking spaces
, which are generally marked
with paint lines for each vehicle and driving lanes in between so
that vehicles can drive into and out of the spaces. The arrangement
of the parking spaces relative to the driving lanes can feature
perpendicular parking spaces, angle parking
(most common in North
America, especially in large lots), or parallel parking (least
common in parking lots, and usually only for a few spaces), or
possibly some combination of these.
Large parking lots have multiple lanes with rows of parking spaces
between each one. Except for rather small lots, the location of the
parking spaces for each vehicle are usually indicated with pavement
markings or lines, similar to center lines on streets. A very
common arrangement in large parking lots is angle parking for two
rows of vehicles between driving lanes, with the parked vehicles
facing front to front between the two rows. At the sides of the
parking lot, other driving lanes connect these lanes
perpendicularly so that a vehicle can drive into and out of the
parking lot at designated locations.
There may be speed limits
, stop signs
in large parking lots.
Tall overhead lights may illuminate some parking lots at
A sign at the entrance to an
underground car park warning drivers of the maximum height
Most spaces in normal parking lots available to the public are
sized for vehicles about the size of a car. The spaces are usually
arranged assuming the vehicle can back out of the parking space. In
many rest areas
on highways, long parking
spaces are also available for trucks
vehicles with trailers
, into which
they can enter at one end and leave at the opposite end to avoid
potentially cumbersome reverse driving.
A common arrangement in paid parking lots is to have a vehicle
entry point with a cross gate where an entering driver presses a
button to take a stub with the entry time and to open the cross
gate for access to the lot. When leaving, the driver would pay at
an exit point according to how much time was spent in the lot as
determined from the stub.
In order to keep unauthorized people from parking in lots, towing
crews sometimes patrol parking lots after business closing hours,
especially at night, to tow away vehicles which should not be
parked there. After snowfalls in winter, vehicles with snow plows
often clear snow from parking lots,
usually after business closing hours and often during the
In response the worldwide intelligent transport system
Guidance and Information
systems have been developed for use in
urban areas. These systems use variable-message signs
drivers to car parks with available spaces.
Many drivers prefer underground car parking over outdoor parking
because it prevents the inside of the car from heating up on hot or
sunny days and it also prevents the car from being wet on rainy
Much of the above discussion also applies to large parking garages
and multi-level parking
A parking lot landscaped with
Parking lots tend to be sources of water
because of their extensive impervious surfaces
. Virtually all of
(minus evaporation) that falls becomes
. To avoid flooding and
unsafe driving conditions, the lots are built to effectively
channel and collect runoff. Parking lots, along with roads, are
often the principal source of water pollution in urban areas.
Motor vehicles are a constant source of pollutants, the most
significant being gasoline
, motor oil
, polycyclic aromatic
(PAHs), and heavy
. (PAHs are found in combustion byproducts of gasoline,
as well as in asphalt and coal tar
used to maintain parking lots.)
Many parking lots are also significant sources of trash
which ends up in waterways.
Treatment of parking lot pollution :
Traditionally, the runoff has been shunted directly into storm sewers
or even sanitary sewers
. However, most larger
municipalities now require construction of stormwater
management facilities for new lots.
Typical facilities include retention
, infiltration basins
and percolation trenches
newer designs include bioretention
systems, which use plants more extensively to absorb and filter
pollutants. However, most existing lots have limited or no
facilities to control runoff.
Alternative paving materials :
solution today is to use permeable
surfaces, such as brick
, pervious concrete
, special paving blocks, or tire
-tread woven mats. These materials allow rain to
soak into the ground through the spaces inherent in the parking lot
surface. The ground then may become contaminated in the surface of
the parking lot, but this tends to stay in a small area of ground,
which effectively filters water before it seeps away. This can
however create problems if contaminants seep into groundwater
, especially where there is
groundwater abstraction 'downstream' for potable water
Many areas today also require minimum landscaping
in parking lots. This usually
principally means the planting of trees to provide shade. Customers
have long preferred shaded parking spaces in the summer, but
parking lot providers have long been antagonistic to planting trees
because of the extra cost of cleaning the parking lot.
However, parking lots represent significant heat islands and,
indeed, heat sinks
in urban areas.
The heat from paved areas in urban zones has been shown to even
have the power to change the weather locally. By providing trees or
other means of shading parking lots, the heat and glare resulting
from them can be significantly reduced.
Some parking lots have charging
for battery vehicles. Some regions with especially
cold winters provide electricity at most parking spots for engine
, as antifreeze
may be inadequate to prevent
minimum numbers of parking spaces as part of zoning
, depending on the floor area in a store, or
the number of bedrooms in an apartment complex. Minimum spacing
standards are also set for parallel, pull-in, or diagonal parking,
depending on what types of vehicles are allowed to park in the lot
or a particular section of it. At least one entity prohibits
backing in to certain spaces. Due to a recent trend towards more
livable and walkable communities, parking minimums have been
critisized by both liveable streets advocates and developers alike.
In fact, authorities in the UK have established maximum parking
standards to discourage car use and other negative environmental
consequences associated with parking lots.
Sweden, there are legally two types of car parking, either
on streets and roads, or on private land.
violation on streets is a traffic crime, giving fines. A parking
violation on private land (also if owned by the city) is a contract
violation and gives additional parking fee ( = check fee). The
difference is small for the car owner and is always
Kingdom has two types of car parking: either on public or
on private land.
The difference is that the police will
investigate any reported accident on public land but have no legal
obligation and will not do it on private land. Public road is
defined by the Road Traffic Act
and (Amendment) Regulations 1988 S.I. 1988/1036 as:
"Road", in relation to England and Wales, means any highway and any
other road to which the public has access, and includes bridges
over which a road passes.
also a House of
Lords judgment to this matter. House of Lords - Clark (A.P.) and Others v. Kato,
Smith and General Accident Fire & Life Assurance Corporation
Cutter v. Eagle Star Insurance Company
An accident on private land is entirely a private matter and needs
to be investigated privately. However, CCTV
-footage and possible access
barrier recording does not need to be handed to a private victim of
In the United States, each state's Department of Transportation
sets the proper ratio for disabled spaces for private business and
public parking lots. Certain circumstances may demand more
designated spaces. These reserved spaces are mandated by the
Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.
Those in possession of the proper ID tags or license plates are
also free from parking violation tickets for running over their
metered time or parking in an inappropriate place, as some
disabilities may prohibit the use of regular spaces. Illegally
parking in a disable parking space or fraudulent use of another
person's permit is heavily fined.
Various forms of technology are used to charge motorists for the
use of a parking lot.
are used in many parking
lots. A customer arrives to the entry ticket machine by vehicle,
presses the ticket request push button, takes a ticket and enters
the car park via the now raised barrier. To exit the parking lot,
the customer presents the ticket to a cashier in a booth at the
exit and tenders payment, after which the cashier opens the boom
gate. A more modern system users automatic pay stations, where the
driver presents the ticket and pays the fee required before
returning to their car, then drives to the exit terminal and
presents the ticket. If the ticket has not been paid for, the
will not raise and will
force the customer to either press the intercom
and speak to a staff member, or reverse
out to pay at the pay station or cashier booth.
Another variant of payment has motorists paying an attendant on
entry to the lot, with the way out guarded by a one-way spike strip
that will only allow cars to
can also be used, with
motorists paying for the time required for the bay they are parked
Other parking lots operate on a pay and
system, where a ticket is purchased from a ticket
machine, and then placed on the dashboard of the car. Parking enforcement officers
patrol the parking lot to ensure compliance with the
Kingdom it has been possible to pre-book parking with
specialist companies, such as BCP, since 1978.
prevalent at all airports, major ports and in city centres.
- Schueler, Thomas R. "The Importance of Imperviousness". Reprinted
in The Practice of Watershed Protection. 2000.
Center for Watershed Protection. Ellicott City, MD.
- United States. National Research Council. Washington, DC.
"Urban Stormwater Management in the United
States". October 15, 2008. p.5
- Chapter 2.
- California Stormwater Quality Association. Menlo Park, CA.
Best Management Practice (BMP) Handbooks". 2003.
- BGSU Redirect
- Road Traffic Act 1988 (c. 52)
- ADA Accessibility Guidelines Parking and Passenger