Archive for June 2009

Even parking garages need good design

12 June 2009

The medical clinic I visit has an underground parking structure. Immediately after my husband and I drove into the entrance, we saw 3 people directing traffic.  Hubby’s first reaction was “Unbelievable! They need 3 people down here to direct traffic?” Initially I agreed, but as I thought about it later, I realized that if my 80-year old mother were entering that garage, she would be completely confused. You see, there are 3 possible directions in which one can go, and the design of the garage does not provide any cues to drivers.

There are no signs, but I don’t think that would alleviate the problem. If you are coming to the surgery center, you need to drive forward a few feet to the right and pull into the special parking spaces for the SurgeCenter. If you are handicapped, you can go to the right, drive past the SurgeCenter parking and park near the clinic entrance. Otherwise, you turn left where you immediately are presented with a fork in the road. You must decide which of two parking structures you want to go into. Most people have no idea which will be the most convenient to their destination.

All these decisions must be made quickly, because there is a very short distance from the street to the garage entrance — maybe 50 feet. Traffic can easily back up behind a bewildered driver.

Exiting is also a challenge in this rabbit warren! To exit to the street facing south, you must drive around the side of the clinic, but short of the street you must turn left and drive up a hill, then veer right to cross the intersection and go south. Even after using the clinic for over 5 years, I still sometimes get lost.

Parking garages shouldn’t be mazes.