Learning to park is one of the trickiest lessons for a new driver to learn. Reverse parking is a challenge, while parallel parking is a real pain. But without this skill, a motorist’s driving ability remains incomplete.
But when you enter a “carpark from hell”, all the parking skills you’ve learned won’t matter. You could even be as talented as stunt driver Russ Swift or gymkhana master Ken Block, but when faced with a poorly designed carpark, it might as well be your first time behind the wheel.
Poorly designed carparks all have the same tell-tale signs. Many of the walls are “colourful”, thanks to the numerous bumpers that have “kissed” them. The parking spaces themselves look too narrow, even if you were driving a classic Mini. Plus, those pillars are entirely too wide, which makes you wonder how you’re supposed to get out of your vehicle after you’ve finally managed to park it.
My theory is that carparks – be it those in shopping centres or multi-storey HDB caparks – are all afterthoughts. A shopping mall is designed to extract the maximum revenue from its tenants. Why should any effort be spared to ensure that the carpark is driver-friendly? After all, most shoppers are likely to be commuters, not car owners.
This is probably why most carpark ramps are too narrow and rectangular, instead of wide and circular. Kerbs are also unnecessarily high – if you’re a new driver, you’re likely to dent your wheels if you’re not extra careful.
All these irritating elements make me imagine that many carparks aren’t designed by drivers. If they were designed by drivers, they must be the inconsiderate types who speed up to prevent you from filtering into their lane – even after you’ve indicated.
Traffic jams will eventually clear. Rude drivers will eventually move along. But until they’re torn down or extensively renovated, a poorly designed carpark is permanent.