This is not a diatribe of vitriol aimed at the auto industry and their mechanised efforts at turning the world into one big patch of asphalt. (The auto industry is trying to turn the world into a giant parking lot. In case you didn’t know.)
This isn’t a tree hugging, left leaning, liberal agenda designed to shame you into freeing up precious public space. (Though you should)
This article is a refresher on a long standing law. One which the majority of the world has forgotten about. (Not entirely based on this picture.)
Do you remember Extremist thinking is hurting cycling? If you have forgotten or if you have never read it, please do so. Now.
I’m basing this on KRS 189.00 (Kentucky Revised Statutes section 189 Rules of the Road). Your state will have similar statutes as these statutes are from the Uniform Traffic Code.
In the definitions of KRS 189.00 we see that a parking lot falls under the definition of a highway.
(3) “Highway” means any public road, street, avenue, alley or boulevard, bridge, viaduct, or trestle and the approaches to them and includes private residential roads and parking lots covered by an agreement under KRS 61.362, off-street parking facilities offered for public use, whether publicly or privately owned, except for-hire parking facilities listed in KRS 189.700.
A PARKING LOT IS A HIGHWAY.
Every parking lot is governed by the same rules of the road that you obey on any other highway. You can be ticketed for breaking the speed limit in a parking lot. You can also be ticketed for driving on the wrong side of the road and failing to yield. In fact, anything you can be written a ticket for on a road, you can be given a ticket for in a parking lot.
(6) The speed limit for motor vehicles in an off-street parking facility offered for public use, whether publicly or privately owned, shall be fifteen (15) miles per hour.
In a parking lot you drive on the right as per KRS 189.300
You are not allowed to operate over 15 miles per hour. This is for the safety of pedestrians and people trying to park.
If it’s illegal, it isn’t safe AND if it’s legal, it is safe. This is the foundation of good laws. Bad laws discriminate. Good laws keep you safe without infringing on the rights of others.
Each parking space is a lane. It is intended for one vehicle. Stay in your lane. Vehicles come in all shapes and sizes. Some vehicles will not take up as much space as a huge SUV. That’s ok. That parking spot is theirs even if they don’t occupy every square inch of it.
The center travel lane is well… a lane. Seems rather redundant but some people need that extra explanation. The center lane is an unmarked highway lane. So you follow both KRS 189.300 and KRS 189.310.
You drive on the right and give half the highway to oncoming traffic. You will operate as close as practicable to the right hand curb or boundary of the highway. You only need to be over far enough to allow passing traffic reasonable clearance. If you swap paint, one of you wasn’t over far enough.
RIGHT OF WAY!
When you are pulling out of a parking spot, you do not have the right of way. Think of a parking lane as though it were a side street entering into a main road. Imagine you have a stop or yield sign.
The person traveling on the main road may stop and yield to allow you to pull out. This is operating with due care.
KRS 189.290 Operator of vehicle to drive carefully.
(1) The operator of any vehicle upon a highway shall operate the vehicle in a careful manner, with regard for the safety and convenience of pedestrians and other vehicles upon the highway.
Driving across parking lots, that have vehicles parked in them, isn’t safe. There could be someone traveling up the road and you wouldn’t see them in time to prevent a collision. Follow the flow of traffic and observe ROTR (Rules Of The Road) statutes.
A lot of cyclists feel safe cycling in a parking lot.
A parking lot has hazards and shouldn’t be treated as a free for all.
Some people will use a parking lot as an example of the most dangerous portion of a road. They are right.
You have so much going on in a parking lot that if you aren’t paying attention you could get seriously hurt or worse.
People driving cars have double duty when in a parking lot. Pedestrians already present have the right of way. First come, first served, and duty of care. You don’t have special rights because you are in an auto. Public highways are level playing fields. You have to drive appropriately for conditions.
Above all else remember this.
PARKING LOTS ARE NOT A NO MAN’S LAND OF FREE FOR ALL’S!