Monday, December 20, 2010

Ruminations on Mall Parking

Many of us in HoCo have a sort of love hate relationship with our mall. We love that is close by but we complain because there isn’t a particular store we like. We love that is enclosed from the cold but we bemoan that it is a closed environment, walled off from the streets surrounding it.

And we love our poinsettia tree but we hate the fact every year, around this time, everyone within a three county area converges on our mall, bringing with them real traffic in our Town Center, and taking up all of our parking.

I’ve visited the mall three times in the last four days and each time was a unique parking experience. Any other time of the year, parking at the mall is a rote exercise. I automatically gravitate to certain areas that experience tells me will, generally, have empty spaces and be less than a city block from a mall entry point. This time of the year those spaces are taken. I don’t know what happens to the actual people but once they park their cars in these spots those spaces then remain occupied until the second week in January.

On Friday, I was doing the slow troll up and down the Nordstrom lot. Others were trolling around me, all of us in search of the same elusive prey. I hate this game.

 I ended up creating my own space, parked on the outside of a parking divider. Though it doesn’t say specifically that I couldn’t park there my action does create a narrowing of the passage at the tip of the parking aisle. I wasn’t the only one doing this either. In fact I considered myself lucky in scoring one of these slots.

On Sunday I opted to go for the Maple garage by Lord & Taylor. Katie Essing, the mall manager, had suggested on our podcast that this garage is one of the more underutilized during the holiday season.

The only problem with parking garages is that you fall mercy to the driver in front of you and the one in front of him and so on. Inevitably one driver stops to wait for someone with twenty bags, a stroller and two kids, to load up their car, adjust the mirrors, make sure all the kids are buckled in, and check her email, before finally backing out of the space which she will do using excessive caution. By this time the line of cars behind the stopped driver is backed up to 29.

It had to endure three of these scenarios before reaching the third level of the deck and an available space.

Today, I again approached Maple garage, coming in from the north on Little Patuxent Parkway. This time I decided I go just past the traffic light at Sterrett Place and slide in the little ramp on the right which would take me right up to garage entry. Apparently some traffic engineer has decided that ramp is not a good idea during the holiday rush and now it is blocked off. It was too late to turn around so I ended up going all the way down to entrance by Union Jacks before circling back to Maple.

I passed the third level and continued all to the top of the Maple garage, back out into the sunshine where I found a bounty of parking and a little used entry into the third floor of Macy’s.

I don’t intend to return until Wednesday night.
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