Monday, February 13, 2012

Excellent Parking Lot Design

Over our 5.5 year relationship Brahm and I have spent many hours discussing one of Saskatoon's major design problems:  anywhere a Tim Horton's pops up = TERRIBLE parking lot design.  I'm not sure if this is the same in other cities, but Saskatoon is notorious for designing the parking lots around Tim Horton's to be ridiculously difficult to navigate.

One especially bad one is the Tim Horton's on Cumberland and 8th Street.  If you're not from Saskatoon, here's the Google Maps depiction of its location:

The street I drew a "C" on is Cumberland Avenue, which cuts across 8th Street, one of Saskatoon's busiest business districts.  I drew the arrow to show how the majority of the traffic (including me) gets into the parking lot, which Tim Horton's shares with Montana's, Sobey's, a gas station, and a strip mall of about 10-ish businesses.  You can also get into the parking lot if you turn onto 8th Street - there is an entrance across the street from where the Boston Pizza is - but the 8th and Cumberland intersection is not fun or easy to make left turns on, so usually I go straight across and turn into the parking lot by Tim Horton's when I'm going to Sobey's.

The stupid thing about this entrance into the parking lot is that Tim Horton's is the first business you encounter, and its drive-thru traffic often spills out onto Cumberland.  It's the busiest Tim's in the entire city apparently, but it was not built to accommodate a high volume of drive-thru traffic.

So here's what often happens (sorry - this is flipped 180 degrees from the Google Map so take a minute to re-orient):

So let's say I am car "D", and I'm trying to make a left turn off Cumberland into the parking lot, so I can get to Sobey's to buy some groceries (or go to Montana's for ribs - NOT!  Sick/disgusting).  Those yellow dots on the cars represent their signal lights.

I'm trying to turn into the non-drive-thru lane of traffic.  However, the drive-thru traffic is spilling out onto the street, and the drive-thru is moving slow.  Car B and C are in a fight over who gets to enter the drive-thru lane first, and I can't turn into the parking lot until car B turns in, but he won't turn until he gets a spot in the drive-thru lane.  Meanwhile, Car A is holding up traffic trying to exit the parking lot because he wants to get into the drive-thru lane as well, but he won't be able to until the traffic slows down and he doesn't have to drive out into the street and turn around to get to the end of the line.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!  It's only like -15 outside.  There are a ton of empty spots in the parking lot RIGHT in front of the Tim's entrance - you will literally get colder having your window open to order, pay, and retrieve your cold coffee slurpees than you will walking from your giant truck (that you will leave idling) into the store.  It will also take way less time to do this than it will to wait around in the drive-thru lineup.  Also, Tim Horton's is super gross.  There is better and cheaper coffee a block away at McDonald's which has a much better designed drive-thru and parking lot.

Welcome to Saskatoon - where everyone loves sitting in their idling vehicles waiting for disgusting coffee while holding up traffic.

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