Parking in tight spaces What parking garages in Bonn do when a car occupies two parking spots

Bonn · The parking situation can get a little bit tricky in Bonn's parking garages at peak times. And yet it still happens that some people take up two spaces to park their car. How do the parking garages deal with this situation?

In the Münsterplatz parking garage in Bonn, a van is parked so that it blocks the neighboring parking space.

In the Münsterplatz parking garage in Bonn, a van is parked so that it blocks the neighboring parking space.

Foto: Meike Böschemeyer

If you want to park in Bonn, you sometimes have to search for a while to find a parking space. Especially if your vehicle is large. It’s not always easy for SUVs to fit into conventional parking spaces. For this reason, some multi-level parking garages have wider parking spaces that SUVs can fit into better than the standard 2.50 meter spaces. Otherwise, if the spaces are too small, it can happen that a car takes up two spaces. This is much to the annoyance of other people who have to keep searching for a parking space. In the Bonn Stiftsgarage on Kölnstrasse, it rarely happens that a car blocks two parking spaces, says Dirk Wallrath, who manages the garage. "It's not always an SUV that 'blocks' two parking spaces. It can also be a larger sedan or a station wagon," he says. Wallrath also has the perception that it’s the way people park which is often the decisive factor.

If an SUV or other kind of car blocks two parking spaces, other drivers complain. "We then specifically approach the persons who are parking incorrectly," he says. They are often reasonable, but not always. "There are some drivers who then start arguing. They usually want to provoke or simply say they want more space to get out (of their cars),” says Wallrath. Some say they are afraid of dents or dings in the car. According to the garage manager, it is difficult to punish the offenders. "We have a lot of staff on site on the parking decks, especially at peak times such as weekends or in the run-up to Christmas. But of course you can't check every single person parking and prevent someone from using two parking spaces with one vehicle.” Even though they are only paying for one parking spot.

Parking spaces cannot always be enlarged

Wallrath has noticed that cars taking up two spaces has been a problem since vehicles have been getting bigger. "In the 80s and 90s, it wasn't such a big problem," he says. There are parking spots of different sizes and widths in the Stiftsgarage. The spaces in the lower decks are narrower but it is mainly the long-term parkers who park there. The average width of an underground parking space is 2.30 meters, while disabled parking spaces are 3.50 meters wide.

Wallrath has already made modifications to some parking spaces. "However, you can't simply widen the parking spaces at will, as only two parking spaces fit between the pillars, for example, and cannot be moved or changed for structural reasons." Often, his only option is to turn two parking spaces into one. Raising the prices explicitly for these spaces would be difficult though. "Then we would always have to direct the motorist specifically to this particular parking space. Or we would have to signpost the extra-large parking spaces separately.”

But putting up a sign is not really an option. "In my professional life, I've found that the more signs you put up, the less people read them. When in doubt, they tend to be confused by all the signs," he says. The underground car park manager knows that when building new garages and renovating existing ones, attention is now paid to the width in order to be able to offer more spacious spaces.

Wider parking spaces possible in the Friedensplatz garage

There could soon be wider parking spaces in the Friedensplatz garage, according to Stadtwerke spokesperson Silke Elbern. The planning is only just beginning though. Stadtwerke maintains ten parking garages in the city through its subsidiary Bonner City Parkraum GmbH (BCP). But it's not just SUVs that are blocking two parking spaces in the BCP garages. "You can say that it's mostly expensive cars such as sedans, coupes or station wagons of all makes," says Elbern. She notes: "Size is always a problem if the cars are not driven into the parking spaces properly. But we also notice this with smaller vehicles." There is talk of creating so-called XXL parking spaces. Three spaces would then become two. Elbern cannot say at this stage how expensive parking in the larger parking spaces would be. However, it is clear that the use of an XXL parking space would then cost more. "Similar to comfort seats in cinemas," she says.

It remains to be seen how it will be determined whether one has to pay more for the wider parking spaces. According to Elbern, there are several possibilities. "The use of the parking spot is recorded by camera and license plate, for example. If necessary, there may also be bollards that have to be activated," explains the spokesperson.

No problems in the Deutsche Bahn parking garage

Whereas some time ago, Deutsche Bahn advertised a three euro rate for a whole day in its alten Friedhof parking garage, it is now five euros per day. Still well below the usual prices in Bonn. And how is it with parking there? Stefan Deffner, spokesman for Deutsche Bahn, says "We hardly have any problems with SUVs occupying two parking spaces.” Parking is not just a problem with SUVs, but occurs with all models. There are no plans to enlarge parking spaces, Deffner emphasizes. "It would be conceivable to make the spaces more expensive, or that there would be cordoned-off areas. A parking garage within a parking garage for large cars," he says.

(Original text: Maike Velden / Translation: Carol Kloeppel)

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