Perfect parallel parking IS possible

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I cannot recall a downtown area of any city in which I’ve lived or to which I’ve traveled where there is a surplus of parking. At least not during peak hours, and certainly not near whatever office, store, restaurant or bar I was attempting to visit.

Typically, to find parking, you have two choices –

  1. Make your way up and up and up in the nearest parking garage, hoping to find a spot that’s not too narrow to squeeze into
  2. Spot an open spot along the city streets, which of course means you’ll need to parallel park

Parallel parking?!? The horror! I mean, have you tried just SPELLING parrallel paralel parallel without spellcheck or autocorrect? It’s nearly as impossible as trying to DO it.

But, at some point, most people don’t have a choice. Whether it’s in the interest of saving time or not having to walk an excessive distance, parallel parking is sometimes the only option. Especially if you drive on the downtown streets of nearly any major metropolitan area.

020317-cc-perfect-parallel-parking-is-possible-1For the record, I know how to parallel park. I didn’t learn it in my driver’s education class, like you might think. Instead, my very patient dad taught me and, while I haven’t had much practice recently, I’m very confident in my ability.

However, knowing how to parallel park and being able to appropriately (and clearly) explain the steps of doing so are two different things. So, in writing this post, I turned to my old pal Google where I found many schools of thought on the proper procedures of parallel parking.

So which is the correct one? Do you start turning your wheel to the right just as you begin to clear the rear bumper of the car next to you? Or do you wait to turn your wheel until you’re three or four feet beyond the vehicle next to you? And when is the best time to then turn to the left? Do you gradually start turning about halfway into the parking spot? Or do you wait until your back tires are closer to the curb and then crank your wheel all the way to the left?

Who would have thought there were so many opinions on the “correct” way to parallel park?

Perhaps my mistake was searching for instructions to this simple task online and failing to understand it’s not about the correct way, but rather finding the method that works best for you. This starts with getting behind the wheel with someone you know and trust. Then, practicing in a safe, low-traffic environment until you’ve perfected your parallel parking strategy and can advance to high-traffic areas without letting nerves get the best of you.

You will likely find a little practice goes a long way.

Then, maybe somewhere down the road, you can aspire to honing your talents to the same level as this guy.