Video: the mathematics of where to park your car

Originally published at:


Starting base assumption is incorrect in Texas: shortest time in lot is NOT the optimal outcome, but rather maximal shade. We’ll walk half a mile though the lot if we can park under a shady tree.


They left out variables such as parking density and how “busy” the lot is.
If the lot is not busy, I will park near the entrance.
If the lot is packed, like a Trader Joe’s or Costco, I will park AWAY from the entrance so when I leave I don’t have to battle with Shoppers and their carts plus other “optimistic” parkers and others trying to leave.

Waiting for paper examining which is a better way to park: head first or back in.
I already know the answer but would like a proper study to be done.


Likewise, in the Pacific Northwest, the best spot is the one that exposes the driver to the least amount of rain. It is preferable to wait in your car for an extra 5 minutes to get that spot near the door and avoid 90% of the rain. :slight_smile:


Yup. “Get there early to get a good parking spot” means get a shaded parking spot before they’re all claimed.


Also if the lot is busy, if you need to backtrack, the other spot will be taken by the time you can do so.


Oh the horror.

I assume that the cars are also modeled as frictionless spheres…



Seems like an answer in search of a question. Or one of the researchers got into an argument with their partner, and used a scientific paper to justify their position. I don’t really care which space is mathematically “best”, I just want to park in a space that 1) won’t get my car dinged, and 2) won’t be difficult to leave once I’m done in the store.


The video presumes that empty spots are evenly distributed all the way to the entrance. That is ridiculous. Spaces near the entrance are at a premium for a reason. I have no problem parking at the first reasonable spot I see and walking past people who are parked in traffic lanes near the entrance waiting 10 minutes for the next possible person to leave.


There are always alternatives if you think outside of the box…



This is why I drop Mrs Johnson off at the store entrance and then park.


This is the superior strategy. I park in the Back 40 whenever possible to meet both criteria.


My father-in-law taught me a great strategy for parking in parking garages at events. If you are in a parking garage for a sporting event, show, concert, or whatever, and you know all or most people are going to leave at the end causing traffic on the way out, he goes up all the levels until he can see there are vacancies on the way down, then heads down toward the exit finding the lowest spot heading down. Also, back in. this way when you get to your car at the end of the event, it is easier to pull forward into the traffic, and you are closet to the exit as possible.


Another consideration is the venue, for example a parking lot or parking garage during a large event will be really difficult to leave if you leave at the same time as everyone else. Therefore if you can park further away you might be able to get out much faster despite the longer walk (if you leave at the same time as everyone else that is and not before).

A great strategy assuming you get there before the crowds show up

The moose out front shoulda told ya…


The answer depends on the parking lot design.
In diagonal/slanted parking slots (like many malls in the US) - drive in.
In square-on slots, reverse in. In UK most slots are square on, and too narrow for modern cars and the ‘aisles’ are too narrow, too, which means those who drive in never end up square in the slot and impede cars either side, or end up to-ing and fro-ing and still rarely end up centred and aligned.

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I’ve been there, that’s not rain. Could be heavy mist or seagull snot, but definitely not rain. :stuck_out_tongue:


It’s not Houston or New Orleans, but this weekend we had rain so hard, you needed scuba gear to go outside!


Here’s where I park. Least amount of walking, and least amount of time spent looking for a spot.

And if you care about rain, don’t forget that your body is mostly made up of it so enjoy your free shower :slight_smile: