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Friday, February 5, 2010

Today In A Parking Lot ...

It's late February and most of the parking lots have recovered from the winter snows. The lines demarcating the roughly 9' X 20' (give or take) typical parking space are clearly visible, many with bright yellow cement "bumpers" at the inner edge. So why does parking seem to be such a tricky activity for so many people?

During the holidays, I'm much more carefree about parking issues. People are rushing around looking for deals ... or to just run into a store for a single item ... so if they get a little close on one side or the other, who cares.

But usually, when someone decides to park their multi-ton vehicle nearly against my car's door ... allowing only a Chinese acrobat to enter the driver's side ... I get into an awful snit!

I'm just a regular guy with a medium-sized sedan. I'm not asking for any special treatment. And I don't fault those who can partake of "Employee of the Month" spots, "Expectant Mother" spaces, or those designated for individuals with physical handicaps. But most of us have been driving since we were 16 and the rules haven't suddenly changed with the new millennium. Ya pull in the middle of your space ... treat neighboring vehicles with respect ... exit your car and do your business ... then reverse the process. Duh.

When I was a "young whippersnapper," I was on the tail end of the parallel parking craze. Part of our driver's education program was to learn to basically pull past an isolated spot running parallel to your vehicle and then back sideways into it. Sounds easy but I remember getting the sweats just before that part of the test for my license. And for what ... parallel parking spots are a dying breed. They only exist in downtown areas or off-street urban neighborhoods, and those two areas are shrinking from the American landscape faster than you can get your hubcaps stolen when parking their.

teens face "maneuverability," the modern equivalent of parallel parking. In this scenario, driving students learn to move their vehicles through five "hazard" cones. Again, a bit of complex driving that rarely occurs in everyday life.

And now some fancy cars have automated parallel parking features known as "intelligent parking assist programs." Since the mid 1990s, auto manufacturers have been developing this type of technology using lasers for charting distance, sonar applications, and other emerging technologies. In 2004, the Toyota Prius featured this type of system is some option packages. In 2007, Volkswagen and Lexus joined the bandwagon ... BMW and Ford are more recent adoptees.

POINT OF RANT: Wait long enough, and what you need to do will
be mechanized ... then you truly CAN blame computers for everything that goes wrong!

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