Friday, April 13, 2012

Park-a-lot With Expertise - Designing Parking Lots


It seems like there isn't much to know about parking lot marking, but there's more to it than meets the novice eye. Marking a parking lot calls for a flair for balancing act between maximizing the amount of usable spaces in a lot, with the most efficient direction of traffic flow and ease of access for lot users, and a few aesthetic concerns. It can be a major design project, depending on the dimensions of the lot you're working with, and this is before even reaching any decisions regarding materials. 

Choices in striping design start with the angle of the spaces, ranging from straight, perpendicular 90 degree head-in spaces that allow for two way traffic, all the way to the rarely used 30 degree angle for exceedingly tight spaces, with anything else in between. 60 degrees is more common for angled spaces, usually used to accommodate narrower aisles and tighter areas. Angled spaces have the disadvantage of taking up more space, but offer the advantage more efficient one way traffic flow. Other types of markings, usually used in special situations, are boxed stalls, good for use in alleys and along walls, and tandem spaces that accommodate 2 or more vehicles bumper to bumper. Another detail to consider is whether to use lower cost single stripes, or double stripes, which offer a buffer for entering and exiting vehicles. If using double stripes, there's a choice of square ends, or more expensive round ends. 

There is a huge range of modern materials available with varying degrees of durability and difficulty of application, priced accordingly. They range from less expensive water based acrylics and oil based paints, to more costly two part epoxy or enamel preparations, to pre-formed thermoplastic polymer stencils, though these aren't typically used for parking lot marking due to their thick profile. In addition to all this, some companies can do custom colors if needed. Generally, more durable materials will involve more preparation, and sometimes more than one application, but might also require reduced re-striping in the future. 

Keep this aspect in mind when considering budget, and also keep visibility in mind.  In case of a public parking lot, a well striped lot can go a long way to forming a positive impression right away. All parking spaces must be wide enough so as to avoid damaging due to unforeseen bumping. While you cannot control anything past the cars parking, if the spaces are wide enough and used properly there won't be damage to other vehicles. All entrances and exits should be marked clearly. This will prevent people from driving in the wrong direction and causing an accident. Safety is important, and parking lot markings go a long way to creating an orderly space that's safer for users.
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