Parking Facilities: Design

Vehicular parking facilities play an important role in the efficiency of Chester County's overall transportation system. Parking availability can affect not only the destination, but also the means people will use to reach a destination. The more difficult it is to find available parking, the less likely people will drive their automobiles to a destination. Lack of available parking also makes it more likely that people will utilize public transit, if it is available and relatively convenient. If there is a consistent abundance of available parking, it may indicate the parking lot is too large creating unnecessary environmental impacts such as increased stormwater runoff and heat island effect.

Determining the proper size, location, and layout of parking facilities are important decisions that municipalities must make to provide the most appropriate level of parking within a community. Facility types generally include off-street surface parking, on-street parking, and structured parking (parking garages).

This tool focuses on the physical design attributes and improvements that municipalities should consider in the development of parking facilities. The 'Parking Facilities: Policy' tool focuses on how a municipality may use and/or regulate parking facilities through various parking management planning options to achieve a functionally and environmentally appropriate amount of parking spaces, as well as the use and potential development of park and ride facilities to mitigate traffic congestion.


Properly designed and constructed parking facilities can provide the following benefits:


The following limitations may be associated with improperly designed parking facilities, which are generally the opposite of the advantages listed above:

How To Use This Tool

Parking facility design must reflect many factors including the amount of space available for the facility, the number of parking spaces required by the destination's land use, environmental and site specific conditions. The following provides general design principles and guidance regarding the physical elements to be addressed when developing parking facilities.

Site Work

Basic design principles to consider when deciding where parking facilities should be located include:

Pedestrian Vehicular Circulation

The orientation and configuration of parking spaces must be considered early in the development process to create a safe and convenient facility:

Off-street Parking

parking spaces graphic

The illustration above shows a simple angled parking layout.

Off-street parking is the most common type of parking facility. These facilities have traditionally been developed as one large parking area resulting in expanses of asphalt with little consideration for the negative visual impacts or stormwater implications. Parking lot designers should limit the places where pedestrians are forced to cross vehicular traffic, and reduce redundant driveways, inefficient single stacked parking bays, locations where cars need to back into intersections, limit vehicular stops and turning movements, as well as consider appropriate locations for trash enclosure pads with regard for trash vehicle turning radii.

One of the first decisions to make when designing a parking facility is to determine the safest and most efficient configuration of the available space to meet the parking requirements. There are a number of different parking angle configurations to be considered, including perpendicular (or 90 degree) and other angled (60, 45, 30 degrees) options. The following provides basic descriptions and dimensions including the advantages and disadvantages for each configuration type:

On-street Parking

On-street parking is most commonly associated with urban or village landscapes and is often metered as a revenue generator as part of a community's parking management program. On-street parking spaces are typically included in the design of the roadway within which they are located and also referred to as 'parallel' parking. Standard dimensions for on-street parallel parking spaces are 8 feet wide by 22 feet long and placed at least 50 feet from any intersection.

On-street angled parking is less common and often associated with historic or central business districts with lesser traffic volumes where it also serves as a traffic calming effect. These installations require much more space within the road right-of-way than parallel parking but offer the opportunity to create more stalls within the same length.

Back-in angled on-street parking has recently been installed in the Borough of Pottstown. This installation on East High Street converted two westbound travel lanes and on-street parallel parking into one westbound lane, one bike lane and back-in angled parking within the same available space. Installed in 2003, this concept "has helped revitalize the downtown by slowing traffic, providing more parking spaces adjacent to stores, encouraging bicycling, and making it easier for pedestrians to cross the street."

Structured Parking (Parking Garages)

Parking garages are most commonly associated with densely developed urban centers and represent a significant investment in providing for a parking facility. Municipalities that need to provide structured parking should consider not only the development costs but also the long term operation and management of such a facility. There are many design factors to consider, including:

A municipality may also look for shared use opportunities – EPTA's West Chester Transportation Center was incorporated into the newly constructed parking garage developed by Chester County across from the Justice Center on Market Street.


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