Safety and security at the car park

In many areas people using car parks in quiet, wild places are anxious about leaving their cars. This is paradoxical, because it might be expected that getting away to the outdoors and would involve fewer concerns about risks of theft or vandalism to property than in the city. Sadly, places where a number of cars are parked with owners absent can be a lure to thieves in many areas, especially in Britain and Europe. It takes only a few seconds to break into a car and steal the radio or any property lying on seats. In such car parks, people come and go at different times and are normally strangers to one another; someone casually opening a door and entering a car or taking something from it would hardly attract attention even if there were other people on the site. It might be thought that cars spread around in well-screened countryside car parks might increase the risk, as fewer people would be able to see the cars or the presence of thieves. Therefore it could be prudent to incorporate the following precautions into designs of those areas where the risk of car theft is considered to be significant.

– Cluster more cars into bays and keep the bays closer to one another. This increases the turnover of parking in any one place and therefore the numbers of people visiting the parking area.

– Keep the parking visible from picnic areas. Many people prefer to move only a short distance from their cars so that they can keep them in sight. Often this is partly anxiety about security as well as about getting lost; the car becomes a landmark for them.

– Place warning signs to remind people to lock their cars and to put their property in the boot/trunk or to carry it with them.

– Management of the area can also reduce the risk, perhaps through the use of rangers to maintain a presence, which reassures visitors and deters would-be thieves. It is also important to liaise with the police for warnings, for advice, and to ensure that the thefts that do occur are reported.

Safety and security at the car park

1 An area of hot springs at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA. The

attractive nature of these features contrasts with their vulnerability. In order to allow people close to the vents, paths and walkways have been laid. These protect both the site and visitors, but unfortunately detract from the quality of the setting and the sense of wildness. This conflict is the main challenge facing recreation designers in the outdoors.

Safety and security at the car park

2 The waterfalls at Yosemite National Park, California, USA. This is where it all began. The unsurpassing beauty of the place convinced John Muir

that it should be protected as a place where people might get close to nature just as he had done. Nowadays the main threat to it is from too many people. In recent years the number of visitors has been restricted by the park authorities to avoid overloading the facilities.

Safety and security at the car park

3 A scene showing visitors to the New Forest in Hampshire, England during the 1960s. Unrestricted access by car to many parts of the forest resulted in site damage, danger to people, litter and pollution. After planning and design, access was controlled, and facilities were installed that now allow visitors to enjoy the forest without seriously damaging it.

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Safety and security at the car park

Visitors to Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada enjoy the scenery. Even at a small lay-by or turnout along the parkway they

need parking that is safe to drive in and out of and is clearly laid out. An interpretative structure and a bear-proof litter bin have been provided. The use of forms, materials, colours and the position of artefacts in relation to the scene can blend in or detract from it. Here the mountains dominate the scene, but the interpretative structure and the litter bin are not designed together or positioned to reduce their impact.

Thus they detract from the foreground of the scene.

Safety and security at the car park

5 A more recent example from Germany uses natural stone, gravel and weathered rough sawn timber, which work together and fit their surroundings. Simplicity and good attention to the detail of construction make this a timeless solution.

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Safety and security at the car park

A collection of leaflets from various sources giving information about places to visit. They also promote their location. Some oversell their area, leading to an anticlimax when the destination fails to live up to its promise.

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Safety and security at the car park

A point along one of the roads to Killarney in County Kerry,

Ireland. As the road climbs, it reaches a summit, and the view of the Killarney lakes suddenly appears, giving a sense that a threshold has been crossed. The anticipation of arrival increases from here onwards.

Safety and security at the car park

8 The threshold sign at the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, USA, is a simple structure that relys on the silhouette of the landscape for impact, rather than the words. The name of the facility is more dominant than that of the organization. The siting of the sign against a simple backdrop of vegetation maintains its high impact.

Safety and security at the car park

9 A good example of an entrance to a forest recreation area at

Glenmore Forest Park, Scotland. The layout is clear and simple. The sign is of subdued colour, relying on symbols

to convey much of the information. The foreground landscape is

uncluttered and well maintained. The only feature to spoil the scene is a pothole in the road surface, probably caused by cars stopping and starting as they leave. Such wear and tear should be repaired as quickly as possible.

Safety and security at the car park

10 This information sign uses a simple, minimal structure with durable, laminated panels capable of presenting photographs, text and maps in a crisp finish. Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, USA.

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Safety and security at the car park

An informally laid out car park in a woodland setting, where the cars are parked in bays separated by clumps of trees and shrubs. The natural crushed stone surfacing completes the contrast between this and a typical urban layout.

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Safety and security at the car park

Forested car parks like this one help to provide shade for most of the day. This is important in sunny and hot summers, when

cars can heat up severely if parked in the sun. The shade also reduces glare from surfacing. ‘Head of the Metolius’, Deschutes National Forest, Oregon, USA.

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Safety and security at the car park

A well-designed earth barrier prevents cars from

straying off the car park, and partly screens them in the open setting. Beechenhurst, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England.

Safety and security at the car park

14 A bold sign reminding people to lock their cars and take care of their valuables. Amsterdamse Bos, Holland.

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Safety and security at the car park

A toilet building at a highway rest stop in the north of Norway. The wooden building positioned by some trees and a rock is stained dull grey in colour and blends in well with the wild, remote landscape.

16 A large toilet building with over-hanging pyramidal roof of sawn timber construction. The large skylights give good illumination to the interior. Cannop Ponds, Forest of Dean, England.

Safety and security at the car park

17 This Swedish example is an excellent composting toilet. The sawn log construction is sturdy. It uses traditional overlapping boards for the roof. Windows in the gable give adequate light and privacy.

Safety and security at the car park