In Traffic I suggested that optimal foraging models might be a useful way to think about parking. A press release I recently received, reprinted below, takes this to a certain (unscientific) extreme. The biggest takeaway I had from the piece is: Stephen Fry drives a black cab? He has claimed this helps him get around London easier. But how? Perhaps he also enjoys people waving at him at all the time?

Release after the jump…

London, 16th June 2009 – It’s a jungle out there! When it comes to parking why do many drivers behave like animals? If you ever have wondered why some drivers are better at tracking down spaces than others or why some people always seem to get into arguments about parking, it’s because many motorists reveal their primitive animal state when hunting for a parking space. Parking a car brings out a combination of the hunting and protective instincts in human behaviour. These findings are revealed in some innovative behavioural research which has spawned ‘Parkology – The science of parking’. The research has been conducted by, who runs a free online searchable database of car parks and on-street parking across London. It sheds new light on why some people are just better at parking than others. The survey was conducted among 1046 Londoners throughout April and June 2009.

Parking is the most stressful part of any journey and this stress frequently boils over into ‘Parking Rage’. The research classifies motorists’ parking behaviour into five groupings: Chimpanzees, Mice, Panthers, Scorpions and Sharks, the happiest and most successful of all being a chimpanzee. They are described below along with results of the survey.

Chimpanzee – They don’t monkey around when it comes to parking!
According to the study, 15% of London drivers exhibit chimpanzee behaviour when parking. Like our close cousins they are clever, inventive and flexible. They use a variety of different techniques to find that elusive space. When confrontation situations arise they tend to use charm and cheek rather than aggression. They are sociable and not too bothered by other drivers parking antics. However don’t park too close to them as they might turn nasty. They are also very confident about their parking skills. Chimpanzees are typically mostly men in their forties and fifties, and tend to drive BMW 3 series, Volvos and Ford Mondeos. Top Gear “Captain Slow” James May would most likely fall into this category.

Mice – This mouse won’t get trapped!
Research highlights that the majority of Londoners are mice. 37% of respondents were classified in this category. Mice tend to be passive, quiet and avoid confrontations. They tend to head straight for the less busy areas to park even if they have to walk a bit further. Avoiding confrontations and stressful situations at all cost they would rather give up their space than get into an argument. Despite them not being that confident about their parking skills, they are good at getting into small spaces. This category is typified by men and women over 50 and their typically drive small cars. Celebrity Mouse would be Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond.

Panther – Cool Kitty!
The second biggest group of London drivers are Panthers. The survey highlights that 25% of London drivers hunt for parking like panthers. If you’ve been followed back to your car by another driver, then you’ve been stalked by a panther. The main characteristic of this animal is its predatory behaviour: they stalk their parking spaces by driving around slowly waiting for someone that appears to leaving carrying bags or holding car keys. Their inconsiderate parking technique tends to cause slow moving tail backs behind them. Panthers will get their claws out in confrontations though this may be just verbal. Panthers are typified by men and women in their thirties, divorced with kids. They tend to drive saloons and sporty executive cars. Celebrity panther would be black cab owner and actor driver Stephen Fry.

Scorpion – Don’t get stung by one of these!
According to the research, 18% of London drivers are scorpions. Like the famously deadly animal, they are opportunistic, patient yet potentially dangerous. Scorpions tend to scuttle around until they find a desirable spot and wait.

Driving around randomly hoping to find a space is not for them. They tend to cause traffic jams because they wait in inconvenient areas. Once a scorpion sees a space, they move fast and dart in, quickly outsmarting any competition. Discretion is the better part of valour for scorpions as they will weigh up the opposition before entering any confrontation. The demographics identified them as predominantly female under 25. Typical scorpion cars are the super-minis, classic sports cars and hot-hatches. Celebrity scorpion would be Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson.

Sharks – Be afraid, be very afraid!
Last but certainly not least are Sharks. They are the smallest category in the classification consisting of only 5% of London drivers. It’s said that sharks can sense minute concentrations of blood in the sea. These sharks can find a parking space in a sea of cars. However they have no scruples about getting that spot! They are opportunistic, predatory and aggressive; they circle car parks and streets on the prowl. Sharks are not averse to naughty tactics such as blocking off potential rivals, using threatening behaviour or intimidation (using the horn, glaring, verbal abuse). If all else fails they would have no qualms about parking in a disabled or a family bay. Most London sharks are men over 25 and typically drive large executive cars, SUV’s and vans. The obvious celebrity Shark would be Pete Doherty.

Norman Olaniran, Founder and Managing Director of, says, “The serious point behind this research is that it can be used to simplify and de-stress the parking process. Car parks and local authorities could employ better signage to discourage irresponsible behavior of drivers behaving like sharks and scorpions. And if the next time you tempted race someone for that last space you remember that you are acting like a shark, it might just put a smile on your face.” Olaniran observes: “There is an environmental benefit when planning a journey into London. helps Londoners plan their journey and therefore minimise carbon monoxide emissions by helping drivers circulate less.”

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 at 11:25 am and is filed under Parking. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.

Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Transport column to me at:

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage:

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency:

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau:

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
Random House | Powell’s

U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from

For UK publicity enquiries please contact Rosie Glaisher at Penguin.

Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
Bloomington, MN

June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
Utrecht, The Netherlands

July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

August 12-14
Texas Department of Transportation “Save a Life Summit”
San Antonio, Texas

September 2, 2009
Governors Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia

September 11, 2009
Oregon Transportation Summit
Portland, Oregon

October 8
Honda R&D Americas
Raymond, Ohio

October 10-11
INFORMS Roundtable
San Diego, CA

October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
San Bernardino, CA

November 5
Southern New England Planning Association Planning Conference
Uncasville, Connecticut

January 6
Texas Transportation Forum
Austin, TX

January 19
Yale University
(with Donald Shoup; details to come)

Monday, February 22
Yale University School of Architecture
Eero Saarinen Lecture

Friday, March 19
University of Delaware
Delaware Center for Transportation

April 5-7
University of Utah
Salt Lake City
McMurrin Lectureship

April 19
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
Austin, Texas

Monday, April 26
Edmonton Traffic Safety Conference
Edmonton, Canada

Monday, June 7
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wednesday, July 6
Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
Canberra, Australia

Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Program
Statewide Conference
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
Injury Prevention Forum

Monday, May 2
Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, June 2, 2011
California Association of Cities
Costa Mesa, California

Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
Brisbane, Australia

April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
Sydney, Australia

April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
Minneapolis, MN

January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
Melbourne, Australia

May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
Transportation Engineers
Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013 “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Grand Rapids MI



July 2009

No, you probably won be compensated one million dollars; however, with the right blend of negotiating skills and patience, your efforts will be substantially rewarded!I have seen up to forty thousand dollars added to starting compensation through diligent negotiations. It is a way to significantly raise your standard of living and sense of self, simply by