Backing it up

If you want to get into a heated debate with someone, it’s been generally assumed that discussing politics and religion are two ways to accomplish that. I’d like to add parking to that list as well. Although parking won’t affect who runs the country or your eternal destiny, nonetheless, I’ve found that it stirs fierce debate and opinion – especially when attempting to modify long-established parking patterns.

Parking is everywhere

It is hard to think of a community initiative or project that does not need to consider 1) where to install vehicular parking spaces, 2) how many spaces to install and 3) how people get to those spaces. One of the communities that I work with is considering those issues and is exploring the use of a relatively new parking method (at least here in Pennsylvania). In order to better use the existing right-of-way, increase the safety for the travelling public AND increase the number of parking spaces, this community is considering installing reverse angle parking spaces along a public street.

The back-in advantage

Reverse angle parking is also known as back-in angle parking and it refers to the configuration seen in the diagram (created by the City of Indianapolis) located at the top of this post. Parking spaces are placed along the street and are aligned at an angle to the direction of travel. In order to enter the space, vehicles pull slightly ahead of the space (like you would when you parallel park) and then back into the space at the appropriate angle. The idea is that the movement is similar to parallel parking so it is familiar for drivers; however unlike parallel parking, the driver does not have to pull forward again to align with the curb – or if you’re like me sometimes, backing up and pulling forward a second (or third?) time. When it’s time to leave the space, vehicles are already positioned for the driver to simply pull forward…again offering an advantage over parallel parking.

Where in PA?

The first reverse angle parking spaces in Pennsylvania were installed in Pottstown in 2003. That project increased the number of parking spaces in the town by 21% and actually appears to have resulted in a decrease in accidents. I’ve seen this parking configuration at several locations, including College Avenue near Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster. But this is where we could use some help…

Where else have you seen reverse angle parking? What have your experiences been with it? Did it take some time getting used to? Do you prefer it over parallel parking? I’d welcome any and all feedback on this issue as I do some research over the next several months. Leave a comment at the bottom of this post or contact me directly with your feedback. Getting your input is just another way in which being designed for community can help produce better results for our neighbors…and I thank you for it.

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