Parallel parking is becoming one of the lost arts. Once a common aspect of any driving test, the ability to parallel park is going the way of the dodo. This is not unrelated to the also dwindling number of parking slots on the sides of streets. With parking garages becoming more prevalent, the need to parallel park is becoming less and less. But it is still important! In almost every town, there are still spots where the ability to parallel park makes all the difference between being able to get out of your car within a minute versus having to search for another sport for another hour.
In this author’s opinion, parallel parking is still a terrific skill for any driver to have, if not the necessary one that it used to be. Learning to park in this manner is not the easiest task. As such, a great way to learn is with the help of traffic cones. They offer a nice safe alternative to using existing cars or objects that can be damaged or do damage to your practice car. This can be a bit tricky to learn, and you probably will bump the impediments once or twice in the process, so harmless traffic cones make for a great tool during the learning process.
The key is to use the cones to simulate actual barriers that would require parallel parking. So, rather than just setup the cones on the corners, I recommend stringing them in an entire line where you want them. If you find tall ones or can stack them above bumper level to help simulate actual places, that would be better still.
Like when you are learning any other task, start easy. Find an empty parking lot or rarely used side street and place the cones about two and a half care lengths apart. Parallel parking is best achieved by going about two-thirds of a car length past the far end of the spot that you would like to park. Turn the wheel sharply to the right (assuming that your parking spot is on the right, as it will be about ninety-five percent of the time that you need to parallel park – if you are parallel parking on the left, just mirror this process in the other direction) and slowly go in reverse. This will put you at roughly a forty-five degree angle going into the open space. When the rear of your car nears the right border of your parking spot, begin swinging the wheel back to the left. This will begin to straighten your car as you continue backing into the spot. Once you are straight, stop and you are done.
Unfortunately, it is tough to be more descriptive than the previous paragraph. Much of parallel parking is about feel as much as a diagrammed science. Practice, practice, practice and you will get the hang of it. As you master one sized spot, continue moving the cones closer and closer until you feel you can get the car into just about any fit that you will need.
Parking Story from Washington Post
Traffic Cones from ViewBrite
What is a Traffic Cone? from Wiki