The term “double parking” can be used to refer to a number of different parking techniques, most of which are illegal. In the sense of illegal parking, double parking is both obstructive and extremely irritating, and it is a source of great frustration in many urban areas. In the legal sense, double parking is an efficient way of storing cars in public lots, and it can be used to fit a large number of cars into a very small space, which can be practical in car-heavy regions.
Most people think of cars which are illegally parked when they visualize double parking. In the first and often most pernicious sense, double parking refers to parallel parking alongside another car so that all or part of your vehicle is in the street. In addition to blocking the original, legally parked car in, the double parked vehicle will block part of the street and a bicycle lane, if one is present. In highly congested cities, double parking can be a serious problem, since it obstructs traffic.
Delivery drivers often double park, justifying the activity by arguing that they need to move quickly in and out of traffic. In some cities, delivery companies have openly admitted to encouraging their drivers to double park, accepting the resulting traffic tickets as part of the cost of doing businesses. Regular drivers may also double park when they need to run into a business to get something, or if they cannot find parking anywhere else. In either case, the act is not excusable.
The term can also be used to refer to cars which take up multiple parking spaces, thus disrupting the order of a parking lot or street. Since most parking spaces are clearly marked out with lines, it should not be too difficult for drivers to park properly, but some double park out of laziness, or a desire to protect their vehicles from damage. Since other cars will follow suit to be more space efficient, the problem can have a domino effect across a parking lot.
In the legal sense, double parking refers to stuffing a parking lot with cars by packing them close together in a dense grid. When a car in the back of the grid needs to be accessed, a parking attendant moves the cars in the way to get to it. This technique is often used in packed downtown areas, since it it can raise parking revenues by making space for more cars. Some drivers dislike these lots, as they do not want to surrender their keys to parking attendants.