How to park a car

Welcome!  Hopefully you found this page because you realize that you need to improve your parking.

A city has a lot of cars and not so many parking spaces.  In fact, most cities have way more cars than parking spaces.  This article is to help you maximize parking, so that you and your neighbors have a better chance of finding a space.

Of course, every place has different parking laws, and those laws are usually designed to give residents a better chance to park.  If you get a ticket, pay up and learn your lesson.

Not all streets have marked parking spaces, so it is up to driver skill and intelligence to properly park cars.  The following tips are to help drivers park properly in such a situation.


Always strive to park in a manner that allows room for additional cars.  Sometimes this is impossible, due to how cars have moved in and out of parking spaces.

Note: Inefficient spacing in a parking zone due to can literally be nobody's fault, so be aware of the possibilities before you think of vandalizing someone's car.

Curb distance

Generally you'll want to park as close to the curb as possible.  Generally 6 inches is a reasonable maximum distance, but sometimes up to 12 inches is OK.  Anything more than 12 inches is a sign of a very lousy driver.  High or low curbs can be a variable here - you'll want to leave enough space to fully turn your wheel, if that might be necessary to pull out of the space.

I usually leave about four inches from the curb.  You can't do that?  You need to practice - a lot of beginners can't park very well.

While parking, be sure to flip in your street-side door mirror.  Otherwise, a lousy motorist or biker might break it off.

Hydrants, Intersections, and No Parking signage

If you see a space adjacent to a no parking sign or a fire hydrant, you should park as close as legally permitted to that sign or hydrant.  For example, if a sign says "no parking in behind this sign", you should park immediately in front of the sign, with no more than 2 inches of clearance.  As another example, if you see a hydrant and the law where you live says you must leave 8 feet of clearance around the hydrant, you should park 8 feet in front of (or behind) the hydrant - not 9 or 12 or 14 feet.

Pull Up Principle

Unless you are parking in the last space (due to hydrant, sign, or intersection), you should pull up to the car in front of you, leaving roughly 18 inches for clearance.  Leaving less than 10 inches of clearance is too little and may prevent that driver from moving.  Leaving more than 24 inches is too much, and unnecessarily wastes parking potential.

Wrong-Way Parking

Always park in the direction of travel.  Never park in the direction opposite of travel.  That's a sure sign of a poor driver that isn't comfortable in their skill to turn their car around.

On Snow

Only a scumbag would take someone's recently-shoveled space without shoveling out a space in return.  If you take a space that someone diligently shoveled out, then you are morally obligated to shovel out a space for someone else.  Oh, you're a guest visiting?  Great!  Get out your shovel.  Don't have a shovel?  Great!  Find a garage to park in.

Other Ideas

Sometimes its "trash day" and there are trash barrels on the side of the road that the waste guys need to pick up.  It's OK to give clearance so the trash guys can move and empty those barrels.

Sometimes there is a moving truck or a plumber or whatever.  It's good to give them clearance so that they can properly get into their vehicle with their equipment.

Sometimes there are weird situations.  Do the best you can, remembering the principles of safety for everyone,  maximizing parking, and considering the needs of others.


Do you have more parking tips?  Great, please share!

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