parking lot

Parking lot is the North American term that refers to a cleared area that is more or less level and is intended for parking vehicles. Usually, the term refers to a dedicated area that has been provided with a durable or semi-durable surface.
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A parking lot with a diagonal parking pattern designed for one-way traffic


In North America, where cars are the dominant mode of transportation, parking lots are a feature of every city and suburban area. Shopping malls, sports stadiums, megachurches and similar venues often feature lots of immense area.

In British, parking lots are known as car parks, a term usually applied to a surface car park, as opposed to a multi-storey car park. The latter, in North America, goes by several names, the most common being parking garage.

General information

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A parking lot in the Finnish city of Kotka
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A parking lot for bicycles in Niigata, Japan
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A multi-storey car park in Kingston, Ontario


The usual parking lot in North America and Europe is paved with asphalt. Some are paved with concrete. Many are gravel lots. A few of the newer lots are surfaced with permeable paving materials.

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, their landscaping, and drainage and pollution abatement issues.

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 hospitals, museums or other tourist attractions, rest areas, strip malls, or larger apartment buildings.

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 stadiums, airports, malls 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.

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.

Parking at malls and shopping centers is often free to customers, owners, and employees also. However, in many 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.

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 parking meters 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.

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. In 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 often contain a turtarrier, 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, 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.
Diagram of example parking lot layout with angle parking as seen from above. White arrows show direction of allowed travel in each lane. Several parking spaces closest to the building entrance are reserved for the handicapped. Cars of various colors are shown parked in some of the spaces. The obtusely pointed end indicates the front end of each car.
There may be speed limits, stop signs and crosswalks for pedestrians in large parking lots. Tall overhead lights may illuminate some parking lots at night.

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 or other 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 night.

In response the worldwide intelligent transport system initiative, Parking Guidance and Information systems have been developed for use in urban areas. These systems use variable-message signs to direct drivers to car parks with available spaces.

Much of the above discussion also applies to large parking garages and multi-level parking areas.

Environmental considerations

Runoff handling

Parking lots have certain characteristics that set them apart from roadways in terms of their engineering and operating requirements. The first is that they often cover large contiguous areas with impermeable paving surface. This means that virtually all of the rain (minus evaporation) that falls becomes runoff. The parking lot must be built to effectively channel and collect runoff. Traditionally, the runoff has been shunted directly into storm sewers, streams, or even sanitary sewers. However, most larger municipalities now require retention basins to catch runoff to reduce the stress on sewer systems or streamways.

Water pollution

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A parking lot in Manhattan, New York City with capacity increased by lifts
Parking lots also tend to be subject to contamination with concentrated spots of pollutants such as motor oil. While motor vehicles on roadways may drip oil, they do so over a large area. Oil drips on parking lots are concentrated enough that they can have a deleterious effect on the water quality of the runoff. Other pollutants, even brake-lining dust, rust particles, and other particulate materials that settle on the parking lot surface, can be a similar problem. Therefore, an important second function of the retention basin for parking lots is to act as a temporary storage impoundment to allow particulate materials to settle out and to slow or even prevent the release of other pollutants into waterways.

In some places, the water is not channeled into retention basins, but into dry wells.

Alternative paving

An alternative solution today is to use permeable paving surfaces, such as brick, stone, special paving blocks, or tire-tread woven mats. The intent of these is to 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 supply.

Landscaping

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An underground car park


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.

Services

Some parking lots includes recharging points and services.

Parking standards

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A sign at the entrance to an underground car park warning drivers of the minimum height clearance


Many municipalities have established 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.[1] More recently with the drive to sustainable communities, authorities in the UK have moved to maximum standards to discourage car use and other negative environmental consequences associated with parking lots.

Legal issues

The United 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 1988[2] 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. There is also a House of Lords judgment to this matter. [3] 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 an accident.

In the United States, each state's Department of Transportation sets the proper ratio for handicapped spaces, while certain circumstances may demand more. 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.

References

1. ^ [1]
2. ^ [2]
3. ^ [3]
North American English is a collective term used for the varieties of the English language that are spoken in the United States and Canada. Because of the considerable similarities in pronunciation, vocabulary and accent between American English and Canadian English, the two spoken
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Parking is the act of stopping a vehicle and leaving it unoccupied for more than a brief time. It is against the law virtually everywhere to park a vehicle in the middle of a highway or road; parking on one or both sides of a road, however, is commonly permitted.
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North America is a continent [1] in the Earth's northern hemisphere and (chiefly) western hemisphere. It is bordered on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the east by the North Atlantic Ocean, on the southeast by the Caribbean Sea, and on the south and west
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automobile (from Greek auto, self and Latin mobile moving, a vehicle that moves itself rather than being moved by another vehicle or animal) or motor car (usually shortened to just car) is a wheeled passenger vehicle that carries its own motor.
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Transport or transportation is the movement of people and goods from one place to another. The term is derived from the Latin trans ("across") and portare ("to carry").
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shopping mall or shopping center is a building or set of buildings that contain a variety of retail units, with interconnecting walkways enabling visitors to easily walk from unit to unit.
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stadium (plural stadiums or stadia in English) is a place, or venue, for (mostly) outdoor sports, concerts or other events, consisting of a field or stage partly or completely surrounded by a structure designed to allow spectators to stand or sit and view the event.
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A megachurch is a large church, generally defined as having 2,000 or more worshippers for a typical weekly service.[1][2] Many are associated with the Church Growth style of Evangelical Christianity.
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British English (BrE, BE, en-GB) is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere in the Anglophone world.
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multi-storey car park or a parking garage is a building (or part thereof) which is designed specifically to be for automobile parking and where there are a number of floors or levels on which parking takes place. It is essentially a stacked car park.
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multi-storey car park or a parking garage is a building (or part thereof) which is designed specifically to be for automobile parking and where there are a number of floors or levels on which parking takes place. It is essentially a stacked car park.
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Europe is one of the seven traditional continents of the Earth. Physically and geologically, Europe is the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, west of Asia. Europe is bounded to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea,
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asphalt concrete to the existing portland cement concrete.]]

Asphalt concrete, normally known simply as asphalt, is a composite material commonly used for construction of pavement, highways and parking lots.
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Concrete is a construction material that consists of cement (commonly Portland cement) as well as other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate (generally a coarse aggregate such as gravel limestone or granite, plus a fine aggregate such as sand or
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Gravel is rock that is of a certain particle size range. In geology, gravel is any loose rock that is at least two millimeters (2mm) in its largest dimension (about 1/12 of an inch) and no more than 75 millimeters (about 3 inches).
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Permeable paving , also called pervious paving or "porous pavement", is a term used to describe paving methods for roads, parking lots and walkways that allow the movement of water and air through the paving material.
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Engineering is the applied science of acquiring and applying knowledge to design, analysis, and/or construction of works for practical purposes. The American Engineers' Council for Professional Development, also known as ECPD,[1] (later ABET [2]
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Landscaping refers to any activity that modifies the visible features of an area of land, including but not limited to:
  1. living elements, such as flora or fauna; or what is commonly referred to as Gardening, the art and craft of growing plants with a goal of creating a

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Drainage is the natural or artificial removal of surface and sub-surface water from a given area. Many agricultural soils need drainage to improve production or to manage water supplies.
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Pollution is the introduction of pollutants (whether chemical substances, or energy such as noise, heat, or light) into the environment to such a point that its effects become harmful to human health, other living organisms, or the environment.
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hospital is an institution for health care, often but not always providing for longer-term patient stays. Today, hospitals are usually funded by the state, health organizations (for profit or non-profit), health insurances or charities, including direct charitable donations.
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museum is a "permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purposes of study, education, enjoyment, the tangible and intangible
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stadium (plural stadiums or stadia in English) is a place, or venue, for (mostly) outdoor sports, concerts or other events, consisting of a field or stage partly or completely surrounded by a structure designed to allow spectators to stand or sit and view the event.
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AirPort is a local area wireless networking brand from Apple Inc. based on the IEEE 802.11b standard (also known as Wi-Fi) and certified as compatible with other 802.11b devices. A later family of products based on the IEEE 802.11g specification is known as AirPort Extreme.
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shopping mall or shopping center is a building or set of buildings that contain a variety of retail units, with interconnecting walkways enabling visitors to easily walk from unit to unit.
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university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees at all levels (bachelor, master, and doctorate) in a variety of subjects. A university provides both tertiary and quaternary education.
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Conference centre redirects here. For the conference facility in Salt Lake City, Utah that is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, see Conference Center.
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A parking meter is a device used to collect money in exchange for the right to park a vehicle in a particular place for a limited amount of time. Parking meters can be used by municipalities as a tool for enforcing their integrated on-street parking policy, usually related to
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Handicapped or handicap may refer to:
  • Disability, a human condition
  • Handicapping, various methods of leveling a sport or game
  • Golf handicap, a sport-specific handicapping method

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A building code, or building control, is a set of rules that specify the minimum acceptable level of safety for constructed objects such as buildings and nonbuilding structures.
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