The baby boomer generation—or as I call them in this blog series, Boomer Nation—has emerged as the largest segment of healthcare system users. This generation is entering the retirement and Medicaid phases of their lives, and the statistics around this generation are staggering. Healthcare planners and designers will have to respond to a number of new design criteria that are a result of this demographic. This includes making parking more accessible for the older patient population.

The design of healthcare facility parking lots and parking spaces should be considered when planning for more elderly drivers. One change should include adjusting the size of the driving lane in parking lots to ease vehicular traffic movement. This includes both the vehicular movement through the driving lane and the movement in and out of parking spaces.                             

The design criteria for the width of driving lanes in parking lots should be increased beyond the generally accepted dimensions. The current standards for driving lanes are generally agreed to be between 24 to 26 feet. Given the increase in elderly drivers whose sight, reaction times, and coordination are diminishing, I would recommend that driving lane dimensions be increased to 26 to 28 feet. 

This would improve the ability of the driver to pull into the parking space and improve the driver’s ability to exit the parking space and then continue moving into the driving lane in one move (versus backing-up, then moving forward, then backing-up again).                             

The design criteria for the width of the parking space should also be increased beyond the current dimensions. The current standard for parking spaces are generally agreed to be between 8 and 9 feet. I would recommend extending this to 9 to 11 feet. The extra space will improve the driver’s ability to maneuver into and then exit out of the parking space. This will also help the driver get out of and into the automobile more quickly. 

In a busy and large healthcare parking lot, there is a great deal of activity, and it’s important to move vehicles in and out of parking spaces efficiently. Providing extra parking space will also make it easier for patients with wheel chairs and assisted walking devices to access their vehicles.

Healthcare organizations should also explore the option of adding additional handicap spaces to make access for disabled patients as efficient as possible.

So, what do you think? Do these concept changes have merit and will they evolve to become an important trend? Let me know by tweeting to @BoomerDesign, @LifeStructures, and @HCDMagazine.


Gary Vance, AIA, FACHA, LEED AP, is the director of national healthcare for BSA LifeStructures. Gary is a recognized thought leader in healthcare planning and design, providing hospitals with creative solutions to their facility problems. He also collaborates with various healthcare constituent groups to develop innovative solutions to operational, facility, and organizational problems. He can be reached at For more information, please visit

For more installments of Gary Vance’s “Boomer Nation” blog series, see the following: