Parking Lot Layout Design
Your parking lot is your business's first touch point with customers. Unfortunately, more often than not, most businesses ignore parking lot layout design. This can be highly detrimental to brick-and-mortar businesses, as said parking lot layout impacts the overall foot traffic into the business. In fact, it is not implausible to go all out and proclaim that the initial interaction at a business's parking lot sets the ground for the entire customer experience.
Seeing as your parking lot can make or break the interaction you have with your customers and possibly impacts whether or not they return, it is integral that you critically consider your parking lot layout design.
Before we delve into how to design a parking lot, including the dimensions and layout, it would be best to explore what makes up an enriched parking lot experience and precisely what's the best parking lot layout.
How Do You Build a Parking Lot?
You start with identifying the purpose of the parking lot, which will be followed by computation of the size of the lot and the spacing requirements. You should also consider the accessibility requirements. As part of the design stage, you should also consider what additional functions your parking lot will serve, including whether it's going to be a loading zone or act as a drive-through for your customers.
Good vs. Bad Parking Lot Layout
Everyone's had an unpleasant parking experience. These will often be frustrating interactions that muffle an otherwise great interaction with the business.
Typically, these poorly designed parking lot layouts will have unclear and outright risky traffic circulation routes with aisles that are either dangerously angled or simply too narrow. Moreover, a bad parking lot layout will likely have insufficient lighting, a short turn radius for emergency vehicles, and poorly positioned ADA-accessible routes.
So, what makes a good parking lot?
A good parking lot layout will feature proper spacing of entrances and exits for convenience and safety. The goal is to design a parking lot layout that helps customers get in effortlessly, quickly find their way to a parking stall, proceed safely into your establishment and get out unscathed.
What Are the 9 Factors to Consider When Designing a Parking Lot Layout?
Designing a good parking lot layout can be a complex undertaking seeing as you've got to take into consideration several factors. Some of the considerations when designing a parking lot layout include:
1. Lot Measurement
Before embarking on designing your parking lot layout, it is paramount that you consider the lot's measurements (size and dimensions).
The standard parking space is expected to be 8.5 feet wide and 10 to 20 feet long. Parking lot aisles between rows have widths ranging between 14 to 24 feet, depending on whether they're a one-way or a two-way aisle. Moreover, you should lay out the stalls for the most efficient use of space.
2. Stall Angle
The ideal parking lot is rectangular in shape, with parking stalls on either side of the access aisles. It is prudent to mention that perpendicular parking has the highest output of parking spaces, subject to the length of the aisle.
Suppose you anticipate two-way traffic flow. In such a case, you want to have the parking spaces at 90 degrees to the aisles, subject to these being the overall most efficient design.
Keep in mind that the efficiency within your parking lot layout will decrease with any decrease in the parking angle.
Consider a situation where you expect a fast turnover rate or are grappling with site limitations. In this case, the most efficient angle would be 60 or even 45 degrees, with experts advising sticking with one-way isles.
Overall, the 90 degree angle provides the roomiest parking spaces within the specified area. The trade-off is that these high degrees make entering and exiting the stall quite the hassle. However, if the aim is to have all-day parking, this remains the most efficient stall angle.
On the other hand, lower angles have the advantage of easy pull-in and pull-out. Still, these are quickly overshadowed by the inconveniences caused by one-way isles and the likelihood of customers trying to pull into a stall from the wrong direction.
3. Exits & Entries
A great deal of attention must be given to traffic flow in and out of the parking lot. Similarly, you've got to keep close tabs on the circulating routes within the parking lot.
Note that while deciding where to place the exits and entries within the parking lot layout, you will need a pedestrian traffic-flow study. The latter is instrumental in informing the safety and convenience of exits and entrances.
You want to design your parking lot layout so that the entrances are far away from any busy street intersections. Additionally, ensure that once the vehicle enters the parking lot, it goes right to the inner aisle, which should help avoid congestion due to turning vehicles.
As for the exits, have these located away from the destination point. The exit should also discharge vehicles coming from the lot onto lower volume side streets.
In a situation where it's impossible to have a separate entrance and exit, you want your lot to be at least 24 feet wide, making room for two 12-foot lanes.
Make sure you avoid sharp turns as much as possible in your parking lot layout design. Consider also moving stalls away from the entrance as these require parking maneuvers that might obstruct traffic or pedestrians on the sidewalks.
4. Aisle Orientation
Chances are you have wondered how exactly you should build a parking lot, specifically the most efficient arrangement of the aisles.
When it comes to aisle orientation, you want your aisles parallel to the longest edge of the lot. This will increase the available lot capacity by a whopping 20%.
If you intend on having a large parking area, it is best that you make plans for a cross aisle for every 30 stalls. You should also have traffic breaks on aisles that are longer than 350 feet.
As for end islands, ensure that there is sufficient space within the layout for the end of each aisle. These end islands should accommodate a car's right-turning radius of 18 feet. A keen observation is that these raised end islands provide the perfect spot for light fixtures. Besides, these deliver some aesthetic value as they break up the endless asphalt surface.
5. Markings & Signage
Lot markings and signage are integral to a good parking lot layout. During the design of the layout, you want to refer to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) as it provides guidelines for, among other things, the paint color to use.
Further, your parking lot will need directional arrows and striping. These markings and signage help prevent a slowdown in traffic flow as customers and pedestrians can easily understand traffic patterns.
In accordance with ADA regulations, your access aisles need to be marked, for instance, with hatch marks, which will discourage improper use of the space. The International Symbol of Accessibility should be placed 5 feet above the ground.
6. Parking Module Design
As you design your parking lot layout, you should keep in mind the distance between two parking stalls positioned directly across one another. Make sure this width of the drive aisle follows recommended minimum dimensions for parking lots.
7. Accessibility by Persons with a Disability
As a commercial facility, your parking lot layout design is subject to the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The latter dictates the minimum accessibility requirements for your parking lot. For instance, there are a minimum number of accessible parking spaces that you should have within the parking lot.
An additional consideration when it comes to designing your parking lot in an accessible way is that you've got to have the accessible spaces connected to the shortest accessible route to the establishment's entrance.
Regarding the dimensions, ADA mandates that accessible parking spaces be eight feet wide, with van-accessible spaces requiring a minimum width of eleven feet. The idea is to have the adjacent aisles, which will often be shared between two spaces, have sufficient space for individuals to deploy their mobility devices.
You are additionally required by the law to make the surface of the designated unique parking slots be virtually level and smooth -- that way, individuals using these can have an easier time loading, unloading or deploying their wheeled mobility devices.
8. Parking Lot Pavement Thickness
The pavement thickness is determined based on the volume and type of traffic you anticipate within your parking lot. Thickness is critical as it is instrumental in preventing pavement failures that might cause accidents, traffic snarl-ups, and drainage issues. You've got to also refer to soil class information to review the capabilities of the underlying soil material.
You want to have the special truck lanes that double as loading and equipment areas and trash dumpster sites to have significantly thicker pavement. Granted, calculating the exact pavement thickness would ultimately be a headache. Fortunately, there's a thickness chart that explicitly breaks down the recommended parking pavement thickness.
9. Parking Lot Drainage
An aspect of parking lot layout design that's often overlooked is parking lot drainage. Proper drainage ensures the longevity of your lot.
As you design the layout, consider the parking lot slope. The latter is integral to the effectiveness of the parking lot drainage system. By ensuring that the lot has a sufficient slope, you will essentially be forcing the water to flow towards drainage conduits. A pavement slope of 1.5% is recommended, with the minimum pavement slope being 0.6%. You are discouraged from having slopes greater than 5%, with slopes of 2% between parking destination and stall being particularly shunned as they make accessibility a nightmare.
You could also consider a design that includes asphalt curbing, as these will ensure that your water runs into curb lines and finally into designated drainage points. The layout of your design should also include the strategic placement of drains and inlets. These should provide sufficient drainage as the water will run off.
An element of the design you should consider is stormwater. For the latter, you'll have to consult with the local government's specification of quantity and quality of stormwater discharge. Storm water retention has several benefits, including reduction of water pollution, soil erosion, and the capacity of downstream storm drain systems.
Having highlighted what the best parking lot layout is and the recommended dimensions and considerations to be made when designing a parking facility, here are additional questions to ask yourself before designing your parking lot layout.
3 Questions Related to Parking Lot Design
1. What's the Best Parking Lot Layout?
An ideal parking lot will be rectangular in shape with access aisles on either side. It should have a two-way traffic flow and a 90-degrees aisle angle.
2.What's the Standard Parking Space Size?
The standard dimension is 9 feet wide and 18 feet in length. The space between two aisles should be between 18 and 24 feet.
Parking stalls typically range from 300 to 350 square feet per parking stall, including the space required for the stall and drive aisles.The average area of a parking space is 320 square feet. However, there are also other sizes, one of the most common of which is 270 square feet.
For planning purposes, as a general rule, assume approximately 300-350 square feet is required per parking space. This allotment will account for traffic aisles, end island/caps, and space between adjacent cars, as well as the entrance and exit lanes.
As an example, a lot is 100 feet by 100 feet, which equates to a total square footage of 10,000 square feet. The resultant of 10,000 divided by 325 is approximately 30 — meaning the final design of the parking lot should accommodate about 30 vehicles.
3. What Other Parking Lot Design Elements Do You Need to Make Parking User Friendly?
Other than accessibility, security, drainage and the other elements of design, you've got to consider the cleanliness and aesthetics of your parking lot during the design of the layout.
Consider trees and additional landscaping as these provide an attractive focal point and are effective in breaking down the extensive asphalt. Still, in so doing, have all your landscaping included in the design so that they do not end up obstructing traffic or visibility.
An essential element of the aesthetics of your parking lot is its cleanliness. You want your parking lot to be clean, as this prime real estate speaks volumes about your brand. You can make a good impression and maintain the cleanliness of your parking lot by placing outdoor trash cans in convenient locations. Good locations for trash cans in the parking lot include but are not limited to:
- By the entrances and exits
- In the corners of the lot
- By pedestrian walkways and crossings
It’s important that the trash cans are unobtrusive to drivers and pedestrians, while also convenient and easy to find, and take up as little space as possible. You can achieve this by using decorative concrete trash cans or designer trash cans.
Trash Cans for Any Parking Lot
The primary objective when designing your parking lot layout is to provide efficient access to parking stalls and effortless exits from said stalls and parking lot. Overall, streamlining this ingress and egress of vehicles from your parking lot requires that you take on a strategic design layout. You should consider the available space, the expected flow of traffic, convenience, accessibility requirements and safety of your customers. Get in touch with us with any questions or start browsing our products today.