Stripes on those parking lot pillars: urban design

scrapes on parking lot pillar

I was parking in a tiny parking spot today and suddenly noticed these stripes at side view mirror-height on the pillar I was squeezing next to. Multiple scrapes in different colours, on a paint job masking previous scrapes. While it’s true that some people don’t know where their cars are in space (I want to start looking at people’s side view mirrors now before I get into their cars), I think it’s also fair to say that when parking spots are much too small, you’re inevitably going to get cars mashing concrete. Which is more to blame, bad architectural design or bad drivers or is it a tie?

There was an interesting discussion today about whether taxis parked in curbside bike lanes—seemingly because there was nowhere else for them to stop—was bad behaviour that should be stopped through police enforcement or behaviour elicited by bad bike lane design (I took the latter view).

And then there was another discussion about reckless cyclists knocking down pedestrians on pedestrian-only paths. Recklessness or bad design, or both? (It was a pedestrian bridge that cyclists aren’t allowed on, with a sign saying so, but no bicycle barriers.)

And then I started noticing just how often this general discussion comes up in cities and how it always break down this way, a moralizing position on behaviour versus the idea that design elicits or encourages certain behaviours.

What do I think? I think a lot of people are either clumsy or idiots, but the design of the city and its spaces has a lot to do with things going wrong. If you haven’t designed for the most frail, the most short-sighted, the slowest of reflex, it’s just bad design.

(Personally I don’t think cars, pedestrians and cyclists should usually share the same space, but that’s another conversation. And Vancouver’s transit is atrocious, which has to be fixed, and in the meantime cycling should be encouraged, but the cycling through my neighbourhood is too breakneck and aggressive in a very pedestrian neighbourhood, as it shares spaces with cars and walkers and children and dogs.)

Parking lot scrapes

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One Response to “Stripes on those parking lot pillars: urban design”

  1. Jean Hands Says:

    Definitely public space design should be inclusive….over here in the UK high land values create a meanness in such design, providing only a bare minimum then as you observed the consequences generate the response of ‘blame the victim’ of that poor design.
    Supermarket car parks and Council provided car parks are about revenue and pedestrians come out last in most design considerations – though we are all ‘pedestrians’…ah the irony!

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