Linear car park

Linear car parks are often better suited for restricted terrain, for example along a river bank terrace, on a ridge top or along a lake shore. A two-way access road has parking bays along it on one or both sides, with a turning area at the far end. This layout is suited to places where good views can be had from each parking bay, where a long frontage is attractive and helps to spread people out for activities such as fishing or boating. Landform, such as a natural terrace, can help to fit the car park into the landscape and reduce its impact. A second variation of this type is to provide small side-loops off the main spine road. This makes turning easier, particularly for trailer-towing vehicles. One­way linear layouts can be designed with a separate exit road back to the entrance, in effect using the public highway to close the circuit.

Area car park

This is the more common urban type of layout, where an area is surfaced and divided into sections for parking or manoeuvring, perhaps subdivided with patches of trees or shrubs or surface markings. This type is the most compact, and uses least ground. It is suitable for smaller sites or where intensive developments such as a visitor centre have a high turnover of large numbers of visitors. It is also easily maintained when, for example, snow has to be cleared, except that large amounts of snow have to be disposed of somewhere. Security is easier with this type, as more cars are visible and more people are generally around. Hence it might be very appropriate in some urban fringe situations. This layout also enables pull-through spaces to be incorporated more easily for vehicles towing trailers. This avoids reversing, with its attendant problems and danger to pedestrians. The shape of this type of car park can be made less geometric and urban by creating irregular, more naturalistic outlines, and the impact of its size can be reduced by breaking it up into smaller subsections, with vegetation and/or earth mounds.

These basic car park layouts can all be multiplied, extended and modified to suit the design requirements. When planning the layout it is a good idea to think of how the car driver will use it, what circulation problems may arise, and how the layout relates to the siting of all the other requirements such as toilet blocks or trail entrances, as well as respecting the character of the site.