The Thing About Multi-Storey Car Parks

Here’s the thing. The multi-storey car park in my home town, I have always thought of as a bit of a challenge. Like climbing the Eiger mountain. A challenge which I didn’t understand.

For many years I balked at driving up the whirly-gig circular ramp,going round and round, rising ever higher above the town – as I didn’t know how to do it. Sounds silly doesn’t it but that’s the thing about driving. Sometimes you find something a bit scary and then decide to not do it, if at all possible and driving up the multi-storey car park was one of those things.

I avoided it like the plague, parking only the flat, easy entry car park with overhead barrier. Simple!

Finally after much contemplation and many years. I decided that I needed to  pluck up the courage and take that drive upwards to the car park in the sky. Thinking about all the things which would challenge me in the process – like cars stopping in front of me and me then having to do a circular hill start with no escape. That was enough to bring on my driving anxiety, which encouraged me to stay firmly and forever on the flat.

The thing I didn’t understand you see, was what I was doing with the clutch and gears when on it and in it. Others seemed to effortlessly pass me by, as I struggled to figure out how to do it.

Eventually I asked my husband – a former driving instructor.

Summoning the courage to tell him that I really didn’t know what to do with my feet. Should I be on the clutch – on the brake – what gear should I be in. Is it normal to feel fear driving down one. I didn’t want to go to fast…

“It’s simple,” he said.  To you maybe. I thought. “Keep your clutch up – so your engine is engaged.”

Vince reminded me that I was in control of the car. The car wasn’t in control of me.

Engine Braking means:your engine is keeping your car at a slow speed thus giving you more control over your car

“Use the clutch the same as you usually would.”

It took a moment to sink in. “I don’t need to keep it down when I’m driving down slowly, so I don’t stall?” Was my innocent question. “No,” he shook his head. “Why would you do that? It’ll make the car less controllable and you’ll go faster.”

Ahhh… I thought.

I’m proud to say that the other day, I drove up and down the multi-storey car park on my own, without overuse of the clutch. Listening to the sound of the car and dipping it only when I thought it was needed. It seemed so much easier – with me in control. To be driving downwards, round and round. I used the brake to keep the speed down and made sure that I stayed in a low gear all the way.

It was an achievement to finally reach the barrier and know that I had done it on my own, after so many years of feeling embarrassed to say anything, it no longer feels a problem.

What driving concerns or skills would you like to brush up on. Remember, there’s never any need to be embarrassed. Just talk to A Pass 4 U.

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Janice Stringer

Involved with the driver training industry for some years, Janice writes for A Pass 4 U, frequently offering her advice on the rules of the road.

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