Yea or nay: Vote on a proposed parking lot nudge

Reader Richard Whittington passes along an interesting idea he has for revising parking lot choice architecture. The basic proposal is to narrow the parking spaces closer to store entrances. Whittington explains two benefits.

Make parking spaces that are closer to store entrances narrower for the first 20 spaces, then get progressively wider up to the standard width 40 spaces from the entrance. People would park further out from the entrance because it would be harder to exit the vehicle close in and they would not care to have an older banged up vehicle bang up their nice vehicle. It would get people to walk more for better health. Handicapped spaces would continue to be the same large size but would have to monitored much more closely by parking violation dept. This would increase revenue to the city or county. Two, I think, good results from this small action.

There are many ways to tweak this idea for different types of stores and communities. There are also many behavioral consequences, pro and con, to consider. The Nudge blog thinks the heart of the matter is whether a parking lot painted in this way would alienate customers. Let us know what you think by voting in our online poll below.

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10 Responses to “Yea or nay: Vote on a proposed parking lot nudge”

  1. Pierre-Louis Says:

    It would also encourage people to drive smaller, less poluting cars!

  2. Tucker Says:

    There are some pitfalls that just taint this idea somewhat although I self-interestedly like it since I drive a Mini. First is that if it is too subtle people may not realize it and cause more fender benders, scrapes and needed body work. Second is it might increase the number of cars taking up multiple spots and causing headaches.

    What could be done though is put labelled “compact only” spaces first. Or start putting in “Sub-compact only” spaces. And people should get minor tickets for violating those rules.

  3. Chris Says:

    I think this is a fine idea as long as there are a surplus of parking spots. I know a retail complex that has made all the close spots for compact cars. Unfortunately, most of their customers don’t drive compacts and they don’t have enough non-compact spaces. So while the compact spaces sit empty, they have customers who can’t find a spot.

  4. Gordon Haff Says:

    My experience with “compact only” spaces is that a lot of people apparently have a very liberal definition of what a compact car is–up to full-sized SUVs.

  5. Paul O'Connor Says:

    While I understand the intention behind this idea, I have noticed a growing trend where the drivers of larger cars, like SUV’s, and of expensive trophy cars, like mercedes, porsche, jaguars, etc, deliberately park off-centre or at an angle, thereby ‘accidentally’ occupying two parking spaces. This allows SUV drivers with kids to fully open their side doors without hitting another car, and prevents other drivers hitting and denting the sides of the trophy cars.

    Our local shopping centre/mall has wider ‘mother+child’ spaces close to the entrance for parents accompanied by children.

    So, why not designate some wider parking spaces for “expensive cars”, not as a play to the ego, but because the owners will know their precious cars have more space.

    I saw a great image recently where a whole bunch of parking spaces in a carpooling environment were each painted with the words “Billy No-Mates”, whereas those closer to the front were painted with “I’ve Got Friends”, or something similar; i.e. those who carpooled would be rewarded by being allowed to park closer to the entrance.

  6. Kirk Hartley Says:

    I love the idea but voted against it because of the issue of accidents and car sizes. Mnay people in their 60s and 70s do not have the “touch” to make it in and out of small spaces, as I observed with my mom and in laws. Sadly, they also lose self-esteem an dconfidence when accidents happen. So. I relactantly think this otherwise good idea does not work so well for places frequented by older people. Now, in a place that draws only young people, that’s another story.

  7. Ana Nelson Says:

    I don’t think voting is terribly helpful. I don’t know what would happen if someone were to try this nudge and, frankly, neither does anyone else. It’s too complex. This should be a question for a real, live experiment. Paint the lines, measure the results. So many nudges are counter-intuitive and/or have unforeseen consequences. We should be scientists, not philosophers, about things like this.

  8. Jan Gephardt Says:

    My first concern is that usually the handicapped spots are closest, and if all the spots near them were for sub-compacts, etc., there might be more scofflaws parking unrightfully in handicapped spots. Having frequently transported folks who actually need those spots, I know how difficult it is for them when all the spots are taken.

    I also agree with the concerns of Paul O’Connor, about SUVs taking up two spots. I’ve seen that happen too often. I really do want to support an idea that would promote using smaller cars or walking farther, but unless there is rigorous and diligent enforcement, many of the ideas suggested in the article and comments will not work as planned, because they can easily be subverted.

  9. david e Says:

    I voted against because of the parking arrogance mentioned above with “trophy” large vehicle owners. I have seen people park in those wider spaces intended for “mother+child” with the justification that they have children, they just didn’t bring them shopping.

    If the idea behind the nudge is to get people to walk more, why not design entrances as far away from exits as possible? People will either park near the entrance or the exit for convenience of one or the other and still have to walk extra on the other end of their trip.

  10. devin d Says:

    There’s nothing I hate more than returning to my civic from a shopping spree only to find my car doors used to remind other drivers and passengers to close theirs. I have learned to walk. I vote for parking spaces labeled for “responsible door openers only”.

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