- 1 Design Intuitive, Well-Marked Flow for All Traffic: On Foot, Two Wheels, Four Wheels
- 2 Elemental Aesthetics: Create a Favorable First Impression
- 3 Make the Parking Lot Pedestrian Friendly
- 4 Advanced Aesthetics: Drainage, Landscaping, and Lighting Concerns
- 5 Signage, Stenciling, Artificial Barriers, and New Traffic Patterns in the Age of Coronavirus
- 6 Conclusion
The parking lot for your business must serve multiple purposes simultaneously and effectively, which is no small challenge given that the purposes may to some extent be contradictory.
The parking lot is, first of all, the gateway to your business, your first opportunity to make a favorable first impression. The parking lot must also serve three strictly utilitarian ends.
First, it must provide efficient ingress and egress to the feeder and exit streets and, second, it must have a thoughtful, well-marked traffic pattern and design within its boundaries to facilitate the movement of vehicles.
Third, it must provide for the safe passage of customers from their vehicles to the building proper.
A well-maintained, well-marked parking lot will reflect favorably upon its owner, while a faded, unkempt, weeded and potholed moonscape will send the wrong message to your customers, patients, and visitors.
In our competitive age, the business owner cannot afford to send the wrong message. What are five ways to improve a parking lot?
Design Intuitive, Well-Marked Flow for All Traffic: On Foot, Two Wheels, Four Wheels
Your new or newly designed parking lot must consider the behaviors and attributes of all of your visitors.
A number of issues must be addressed in the design of traffic flow, including the number, size, marking, and configuration of the parking spaces themselves.
Identifying and installing the proper, lawful off-the-ground signage for vehicles and pedestrians; identifying and installing the ideal painted asphalt markings to facilitate traffic flow
The possible use of concrete or other raised barriers to create, among other things, walkways for pedestrians. Capitol Barricade, for example, offers many of the products necessary to create and direct traffic flow.
Elemental Aesthetics: Create a Favorable First Impression
Making a positive first impression does not require you to blow the bank on a new parking lot. At the very least, be sure that cracks and potholes have been filled and the lot regularly cleaned and swept.
At the next level, you might consider seal coating the surface and repainting faded parking lot lines and vehicular traffic indicators.
Motorists and pedestrians alike must be able to readily see crosswalks and other traffic markings.
Freshly painted parking space lines and traffic indicators atop the new seal coat give a business an attractive, professional front door for its customers, just as fresh paint on a house invites and inspires guests.
A clean, well-done parking lot carries with it the aura of success. Don’t overlook it.
Make the Parking Lot Pedestrian Friendly
If you are designing a parking lot from scratch, or are considering a serious renovation, consider adding concrete islands/barriers to create designated pedestrian walkways.
We know from experience that painted walkways are often ignored by drivers, but most will respect four inches in concrete – leaving a vehicle-free path for your customers, clients, patients, and visitors to use.
Pedestrian walkways through traffic areas might be painted and guarded with rumble strips and proper signage.
The population continues to age, and those aging customers need safe space, so create it for them. And, of course, there is the liability issue: neither you nor your insurer wishes to have your customers flattened in the parking lot.
Advanced Aesthetics: Drainage, Landscaping, and Lighting Concerns
Proper drainage and landscaping are best addressed in the design phase prior to the construction of a new parking lot. The water collected by your parking lot will ideally be directed to a catch basin or other reservoir intended for that purpose.
You wish to avoid standing water on your asphalt as pools adversely affect its condition and durability. You can be sure your customers have no desire to wade through bayous to get into your business.
Even modest landscaping can improve the “feel” of an otherwise bleak asphalt moonscape. You can choose plantings with desirable practical features, such as thriving on neglect, and minimal need for water, pruning, or sunlight.
If the building is accessible after dark, the parking lot must be properly illuminated, both for aesthetics and security.
Lighting should not produce glare nor induce temporary blindness. It should be most intense in those places featuring heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
The government response to Covid-19 has had a devastating effect on business activity and forced owners to adapt or die.
Many businesses have opted for a “no/low contact” model, offering “take out / pick up” of sorts to customers who order online or via telephone.
In such a case, the product may be delivered to the car by an employee, or the customer may exit the vehicle briefly, enter the business, then return to their car. This model has been adopted across the country by most businesses.
In many cases, this adaptation has caused considerable chaos and unsafe conditions, especially for pedestrians. There are three measures that might be taken by the business to improve safety for all.
First, make it clear to the customer that new driving/parking procedures and signage are in place and are to be respected.
In other words, all customers get a “heads up” to pay attention, to stay in their lanes, stay in their cars, obey the new signage, park in designated spots, and other directions, etc.
Second, consider whether new signage, traffic patterns, temporary physical devices (cones, barricades, rumble strips, etc.), newly designated and marked parking spaces, time limits, etc., should be designed and implemented.
You might, for example, designate several spaces near entry doors exclusively for “pick up” orders, which will make customer visits briefer and will reduce pedestrian traffic in the parking lot.
Third, if customer vehicular traffic is substantial enough, you might designate an experienced employee to direct customers (and traffic!) outdoors.
A parking lot may be the first glimpse that a customer has of your business. Treat it as you would the front door to your house. If not elegant, at the very least be confident that it is well kept and offering ample evidence of pride of ownership.