Few things in life can be more frustrating than driving to an important destination and not being able to park your vehicle anywhere near the building. Few of the alternatives may sound appealing- drive around until another driver vacates a spot, park in a municipal garage several blocks away or risk penalties by parking illegally. Instead of becoming frustrated and giving up completely on the prospect of parking your car, consider the following advice for finding suitable parking just about anywhere:
- Consider how far you are willing to walk. Many store parking lots have plenty of available spaces along the perimeter and in sections a little farther from the entrance. If you’re reasonably healthy and willing to walk a few extra yards to the store’s entrance, you should be able to find someplace to park. Malls and stores usually have other entrances that may not be quite as far, such as the gardening department or automotive repair addition. Most customers tend to aim for the main entrance and will continue to circle the parking lot until a closer space becomes available. You’ll save more time and gas by simply parking along the perimeter and walking.
- Look for parking spaces on the sides or rear of a public building. Many drivers consider the large parking lot in front of a building to be their only available option. But quite often the architects also include areas beside and behind a building for ‘overflow parking’ and spaces intended for employees and vendors. Instead of concentrating on the main parking lot, it pays to drive around the building and look for unused parking spaces. Unless space is reserved specifically for employees or delivery vehicles, you should be allowed to park in any legal parking space. The store may have an accessible entrance near the side and rear parking areas. If nothing else, there may be another store that shares the parking lot and could make the walk to your original destination more comfortable.
- Check the neighboring buildings for available spaces. A popular destination such as a restaurant or a government building may become crowded on certain days or at predictable times. Instead of trying to find a non-existent parking space at the building itself, look for neighboring buildings with unused spots. Many shop owners place warning signs concerning the use of their parking lots, but there could be some exceptions. If you park along their perimeters and leave their prime spots available, the shop owners may not choose to enforce their ‘No Parking’ rule. Sometimes a neighboring store may not be open on a weekend, so parking on the property may not present a problem. But ultimately a store’s parking lot is considered to be private property, so the owner has every right to enforce his or her posted rules. Use your best judgment when parking in a nearby lot- you may be better served by parking in a city-sponsored space or waiting until a better spot becomes available.
- Check into qualifications for parking permits. If you have certain medical conditions or are responsible for the care of those who do, you may qualify for a handicapped parking placard. Many people are actually eligible for handicapped parking but don’t feel comfortable pursuing that option. Even if you don’t qualify for official handicapped parking benefits, you may be able to negotiate an agreement with the store or office building to park in restricted areas. A parking lot owner has every right to say no to such a request, but it couldn’t hurt to ask.
- Rent a parking space from a private individual.
Many festivals, concerts, fairs, and other public events outgrow their original parking lots, and finding a spot can be problematic. Some event planners will provide organized overflow parking lots or shuttle services, but these may be inconveniently located or run infrequently. A better alternative may be to rent a parking space from a homeowner with property near the venue. Some enterprising homeowners will openly advertise their willingness to rent a parking space, but there’s little to stop them from raising their rates dramatically on game day. Instead, try negotiating a fixed price in advance so you can be assured of a decent parking place at an affordable price. You should always remember that the renter is doing you a supreme favor through this arrangement, so you should remain respectful and thoughtful as long as your car is on his or her property. If you violate your part of the agreement, a homeowner has every right to have your car towed off the property.
- Arrive early. If you anticipate parking to be at a premium, it often pays to arrive as early as you legally can. If you can leave the car parked overnight, you might want to enlist a friend’s help and park the car the night before. Your friend can always shuttle you back to the venue later, and you’ll have a head start once the event is over. If you cannot enter the parking lot until a certain time, it may still pay to arrive early and plan an activity to fill the time. There may be other attractions to visit near the venue or a restaurant open for business.
- Practice your parallel parking skills. Many curbside parking spots remain available because drivers fear parallel parking. Parking in an off-street municipal parking lot might be easier, but the walk to the store or office may be daunting. By becoming confident in your parallel parking skills, you can often park directly in front of the restaurant or downtown shop you came to visit.
Some cities have modified their downtown streets to accommodate angled parking, but older sections may still require parallel parking. Parallel parking may take longer, but the benefits of being closer to the action should still outweigh the expense of parking decks or the walking distance from municipal parking lots.Some cities have modified