Offensive Parking

Stopping bad parking one schmuck at a time

12  05 2009

How to Parallel Park

Living in a big city where parking is scarce, parallel parking skills are a must. To parallel park successfully, you need a space about 4-6 feet longer than your car. Then, it’s all about timing!

For those that are experts, parallel parking can be accomplished with spaces only 30 inches longer than their car.  However, even if you can park your car without damaging it, remember that the person in front of or behind you might not be as skilled. 


  1. The key to parallel parking is to make sure your car can fit in the spot before you spend a lot of time playing tag the bumper with the cars in front of and behind you.  If you aren’t sure whether you’ll fit in the space, pull up beside it and size it up first.  After a little practice you will be able to judge just by looking at a spot.
  2. Once you’re sure your car will fit, use your turn signal to indicate your intention to park and the direction of the parking spot.
  3. If the space is not yet vacant but the car in it is about to leave, wait behind the spot with your turn signal on to ‘claim the spot’.
  4. When the space is vacant, pull ahead of it until you have pulled up beside the car parked in front of the space (the car you are parking behind), so that the rear bumpers of the cars are about even and about an arm’s length apart (approximately 2 feet).  If you hear scraping metal, you’re too close!
  5. Put the car in reverse. While looking over your shoulder (in the direction you are reversing), begin to back up slowly; as soon as the car starts moving, turn the wheel as far as it will go toward the curb.  Aim toward the rear corner of the space.
  6. Back slowly into the space.
  7. Reverse until the back of your car’s front door is even with the rear bumper of the car beside you; begin turning the wheel away from the curb.  Looking over your shoulder during this part of the maneuver may help you align with the rear car – or use your rear view mirror.
  8. Continue turning the wheel away from the curb and backing slowly into the space.
  9. Straighten out the wheel by turning it one revolution to the right.  Pull forward or back in the space as needed to center your car between the cars in front of and behind you. Your car should be 6 to 8 inches from the curb when you are parked. 

Tips & Warnings

  • Go slowly!
  • Keep looking all around the check for other vehicles and/or pedestrians.
  • If you are parking in front of store windows you can look at the reflection of your car in the window to see how close you are to the car behind you when you’re backing up.
  • Many cities will issue a citation for vehicles parked more than 18 inches from the curb.

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