Parking lots

This has nothing to do with anything -- but WHAT is the deal with parking lot design these days????????? Is it the refuge of drop-outs from urban planning programs?

There's one lot here in Ames that was my first encounter with Parking Lot Hell: short, curvy entrance (and only one entrance) with a sharp left turn onto a too-narrow strip of road that takes vehicles into and back out of the lot itself.

But during this book tour the past six weeks, I encountered one horrible parking lot after another, all of them in new or newish shopping centers (which is where I could find bookstores so I could sign copies of my book). Driving lanes barely wide enough for two cars. Entrances that double as exits and entirely too narrow for either purpose. Narrow boxy lots that can't possibly handle the traffic roaming in and out. And not nearly enough parking spaces for the center itself, which means that at any given moment, dozens of cars are zooming in and out of these too-narrow, too-small lots as drivers hunt for elusive spaces to deposit themselves and their cars.

I really don't get the rationale behind the designs. If the idea is to provoke people into leaving their cars at home and walking to the shopping centers, well, that won't work because in most places there aren't a lot of residential areas nearby and even if there were, pedestrians would have to negotiate six or eight lanes of traffic on foot just to get into the shopping area. And if you're an avid pedestrian like me, you KNOW how dangerous that is (because most suburban areas are designed for cars, not people on foot.......)

Okay, enough of this rant. But really -- who is designing these things????????? Or -- wait -- maybe no one is. Maybe engineers and traffic planners are now using computers to do this: they feed in the number of shops, the number of expected shoppers per day, and let the computer design the lot. Surely that's the explanation. Because no rational human being could be designing these things.