Reverse Angle Parking Coming on Second Street?

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Reverse-Angle-Parking-4As most who have traveled into the Davis Downtown know, the city has been doing some extensive renovation of Second Street, an issue we covered a few weeks back.  Apparently included in the renovation is the installation of reverse angle parking.

According to a memo from Katherine Hess dated August 16, the City was asked to consider re-striping for reverse angle back-in parking in the 2nd Street corridor.

You might ask what is reverse angle parking?  It means that instead of driving forward into a parking spot for angled parking on a street, the cars drive past the spot and back into it at an angle.  When the cars exit the street, they drive forward.  The advantage there is that it gives them full view of oncoming traffic and bicyclists that are approaching.

I have been told that this is not a new idea.  In fact it was proposed a few years back by the biking community and the city considered it dead on arrival.  What changed?  Hard to know.

Good idea?

One report was conducted at UC Davis in 2005.  They cited a 2003 report stating, “Back-in/head-out diagonal parking is superior to conventional head-in/back-out diagonal parking. Both types of diagonal parking have common dimensions, but the back-in/headout is superior for safety reasons, due to better visibility when leaving. This is particularly important on busy streets or where drivers find their views blocked by large vehicles, tinted windows, etc., in adjacent vehicles in the case of head-in/back-out angled parking. In other words, drivers do not back blindly into an active traffic lane.”

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The obvious objection here is the backing into a space is unnatural and so while the hazards may be reduced while pulling out of a space, they may be increase backing in.  However, consider this, we already back into spaces all of the time, when we parallel park.

That same report suggests this is actually simpler than parallel parking.  “The back-in maneuver is simpler than a parallel parking maneuver. Furthermore, with back-in/head-out parking, the open doors of the vehicle block pedestrian access to the travel lane and guide pedestrians to the sidewalk, which is a safety benefit, particularly for children. Further, back-in/headout parking puts most cargo loading (into trunks, tailgates) on the curb, rather than in the street.”

On the other hand, parallel parking is an action that is relatively infrequent, whereas drivers would be forced to back up every time they have to park.  When someone parallel parks, it blocks traffic, cars try at times, dangerously, to drive around the parking vehicle, and it disrupts the flow.  All of these things  are supposed to be avoided by having people avoid backing out of parking spots.

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The report from 2005 cites a number of advantages.

First, “Back-in/head-out angle parking is similar to both parallel and standard angle parking. As with parallel parking, the driver enters the stall by stopping and backing, but need not
maneuver the front of the vehicle against the curb. When leaving the stall, the driver can simply pull out of the stall, and has a better view of the oncoming traffic.”

Second, “This type of parking provides a safer environment for bicyclists using the roadways. The driver is able to see the cyclist easily when exiting the stall. Several cities where back-in angle parking has been implemented have seen a reduction in number of accidents compared to the number of accidents at regular parallel parking schemes.  Matt Zoll at Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee says that after implementing the backin/ head-out angle parking scheme in Tucson they “went from an average of 3-4 bike/car accidents per month to no reported accidents for 4 years following implementation.”

Third, “Back-in angle parking can also be useful on steep terrain: if used on the correct side of the street, it causes drivers to automatically curb their wheels, which in turn prevents runaway autos. Used on the wrong side of a steep street, however, it is likely to cause more runaways.”

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There may be some about parking for those with disabilities.  Apparently there are provisions, at least in other cities, accommodating that in which “a 13-foot wide handicap-accessible stall has been incorporated into the angle parking as the last space, intersection nearside, of each block. This places each disabled parking stall close to the existing curb ramps, and allows the wheelchair-using drivers to unload out of the way of traffic…”  In fact, the study argues this produces greater safety for disabled people.  The study makes the claim, “By contrast, the street’s previous parallel parking arrangement could not be safely used for disabled parking, and conventional angle parking raised safety concerns for the street’s proposed bicycle lanes.”

Finally, “As SLCTrans (2004) states, “one of the most common causes of accidents is people backing out of standard angled parking without being able to see on-coming traffic. Reverse angled parking removes this difficulty.” It also improves safety for cyclists, and for loading/and unloading the trunk of the car. Similarly, the Urban Transportation Monitor’s recent article on back-in angle parking reported reduced accidents and benefits for bicyclists in several communities. In all, back-in/head-out angle parking is a good choice when compared to conventional head-in angle/back-out parking and parallel parking.”

This is an in item under consideration, not a done deal.  There will be a couple of opportunities for the public to weigh in on the matter.  First at the Safety and Parking Commission meeting on September 2 at 5 pm and then at the next council meeting on September 7 at 6:30, both will meet in the Davis community chambers.

I was skeptical of the idea at first, but after reading that report and seeing the improved sightlines, it appears worth at least taking on as a pilot project on Second Street.  We do not have a lot of pull-in parking anyway in the city, mostly just on Second Street, so we can evaluate whether or not it works.  Still I would like to hear from the Vanguard community on the idea and see where we stand.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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21 thoughts on “Reverse Angle Parking Coming on Second Street?”

  1. sunflower

    This is an interesting idea. Have they considered the impact of car exhaust to the adjacent businesses who typically leave their front doors open in nice weather?

  2. Danthelawyer

    I think it’s worth a try, at least. The ideal would be to eliminate angled parking completely, everywhere it presently exists in Downtown Davis. It has always shocked me that, for a town claiming to be so bicycle friendly, Davis’s downtown is near inaccessible by bike. When I take my kids downtown, we tend to go through campus to Davis Commons, park, and walk from there. That’s ridiculous.

    Reverse angle parking sounds as though it may improve things at least slightly, but why do the bike lanes essentially end once you get into the core — precisely where they are most needed?

  3. davisite2

    …..it will probably result in more minor scratch damage to both the cars parking and those already parked in the adjacent spots.. this is a minor issue when measured against the improved safety issue when cars leave their parked spot to enter traffic.

  4. Mr.Toad

    Insanely stupid idea! Those who rail against excessive government should use this as an example of wasted time make work for planners who have nothing better to do. Doing this ignore the safety threat of backing up and hitting pedestrians. The tables and bike racks in front of Mishkas are so close to the street that they present a danger to those pulling in forwards. Backing people in there will result in someone getting hurt perhaps badly hurt.

  5. David M. Greenwald

    That was one of my first concerns Mr. Toad, but every study I have seen shows that this changes improves safety, often by a good measure. Do you have evidence to the contrary? It’s not as though this were an unproven theory that we just trotted out.

  6. Don Shor

    I am curious how a major change like this comes to be implemented apparently without public input.

    When I see these comments….
    “Apparently included in the renovation is the installation of reverse angle parking.
    … the City was asked to consider re-striping for reverse angle back-in parking in the 2nd Street corridor.
    … In fact it was proposed a few years back by the biking community and the city considered it dead on arrival. What changed? Hard to know.”

    …I’d like to know how public input was solicited, whether the business owners on Second Street were consulted or informed, and at what staff level parking changes are decided.

  7. E Roberts Musser

    Am I missing something here? Can’t people back into angled parking slots now, if they really wanted to? Just pull a bit past the space, then back in…

  8. biddlin

    I’ve used such spaces with no difficulty. The biggest problem I foresee will be getting drivers to yield enough space for you to back into the space.

  9. westof113

    Matt Zoll at Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee says that after implementing the backin/ head-out angle parking scheme in Tucson they “went from an average of 3-4 bike/car accidents per month to no reported accidents for 4 years following implementation.”

    Hello! If staff determines this is anywhere near an accurate statistic…. Definitely worth a trial.

  10. David M. Greenwald

    Don: That’s how I found out about, one of the business people sent it to me.

    Elaine: Not really because they’d have to back in across lanes.

  11. hpierce

    neutral: actually, since Target has 90 degree parking stalls, anyone can practice the maneuver… and it will be simpler with diagonal (reverse diagonal) parking. If stall width, clearance of objects from curbs, etc. are sufficient, there is much positive to be said about the concept. Like many things, it can have negative consequences if not properly executed.

  12. Dr. Wu

    A couple of comments:

    1. Every drivers ed student is supposed to learn how to parallel park, but I have never heard of this type of parking. I suspect many drivers will find it difficult.

    2. How much is this costing the City? I assume the roadworks were going on so it just involves repainting which was necessary anyway.

    3. If this keeps Hess busy we should be grateful given her track record messing up out fair City .

  13. JustSaying

    [quote]“According to a memo from Katherine Hess dated August 16, the City was asked to consider re-striping for reverse angle back-in parking in the 2nd Street corridor.”[/quote] David, is this a memo from less than a week ago?! Does it say [u]who[/u] was asked and [u]by whom[/u] and who made the decision to go ahead? To whom did she address the letter? If she means the Council asked the city staff to include this in the renovation contract or to study the concept for Davis, I guess I can live with the news.

    Personal disclosure note: I’ve had more scrape-and-scratch car accidents trying to back into confined spaces (not [u]too[/u] many) than backing into the open street from a front-in diagonal space (none).

    Agree with Don and SODA about the public notification and participation matters. Just another scheme that pops out as a surprise to the citizenry [u]after[/u] it’s into final plans or into construction. The staff and/or council either misjudge what issues might be of interest to the rest of us, or they feel they know best, or they deal only with the insiders and special interests when trying to improve our city. No use letting too many people get wind of any change until it’s been implemented….

    [quote]“…after implementing the backin/ head-out angle parking scheme in Tucson they ‘went from an average of 3-4 bike/car accidents per month to no reported accidents for 4 years following implementation’.”[/quote] Very impressive. Can we assume these figures refer only to parking situations–and not the serious car and truck collisions with bike riders that don’t involve parking, like the ones we’ve had in Davis?

    And does the Hess letter detail what are the bike/car accident statistics are for Davis with our high per-capita bicycle inventory or for the downtown area itself? What do we average per month for, say, the most recent five year period? Seems like the main beneficiaries would be our bikers, totally appropriate for the bicycle capitol of the world. But, I would like to hear something more about how serious the problem is that we’re facing before we have to start training at Target.

    In the meantime, I’m heading for my favorite, most super-efficient parking layout town–the head-in/head-out spaces that can be found at the somewhat vacant areas about 250 feet from Nugget’s front door.

  14. David M. Greenwald

    It did not say who was doing the asking. The memo was addressed to business members on second street. The city generally contacts/ notifies parties of that sort of interest however their ability to send out general announcements to interested members of the general public seems limited. It’s one of my big complaints, to me the Brown act is the minimum not the maximum.

  15. E Roberts Musser

    dgm:”Elaine: Not really because they’d have to back in across lanes.”

    I got to thinking about it, and realized I was WRONG – you can’t really back into the angled slots as they are now. It just seems like forcing people to back into an angled parking space will be more trouble than its worth. I suspect a lot of seniors won’t like it at all. Can you imagine some little old lady trying to back her car between two other cars? My guess is it very well may discourage people from parking downtown. Just my opinion…

  16. roger bockrath

    This is REVOLUNARY! It’s the best idea anybody has come up with in years to simplify parking downtown, and increase safety for bicyclists.

    I drive two different trucks in Davis, one a small half ton and the other a large three quarter ton, each equipped with a camper shell. For those who don’t drive trucks it’s important to note that the window views of the real estate behind the driver that are available to car drivers, are obscured in a truck. That’s why pickup trucks have large rear view mirrors and why skilled truck drivers use them constantly, while driving. When you back your truck out of a pull in diagonal space, into oncoming traffic, it’s a total crap shoot. You back out very slowly, crane your neck to get the earliest possible view of oncoming traffic, and pray like hell that some drunk is not talking with his girlfriend in the passenger seat instead of watching for a vehicle attempting to back into traffic.

    Truck drivers will always opt for a parking space where they can back in so that they can see oncoming traffic when pulling back into the traffic lane.

    For those concerned about having to learn to back in, relax, it’s actually easier to judge the distance between your vehicle and the ones on either side while backing than while pulling in, front end first. And you can open the driver’s side door to observe the parking line for confirmation of your spacing. Backing in to a diagonal space is way easier than parallel parking. Because the only consideration is spacing between already parked vehicles, the wait for the person behind the parker is reduced considerably.

    And for those who drive sedans with a plastic air dam under the front bumper, you can stop worrying about curb clearance when you back in.

    Congratulations Joe Krovosa for asking staff to reconsider this no-brainer improvement to our downtown! Lets get this brilliant idea instituted as soon as possible ! Drivers and bicyclists will love it !

  17. E Roberts Musser

    rb: “For those concerned about having to learn to back in, relax, it’s actually easier to judge the distance between your vehicle and the ones on either side while backing than while pulling in, front end first.”

    Ask a little old lady how easy it is to crane her neck backward to see where she is going to back her car in between two cars. She’ll shop elsewhere than downtown…

  18. J A Meeks

    I drive a Prius. Those of us still driving real CARS would welcome reverse angle parking.

    There is nothing worse than having a mini or full sized van parked, suv, large pickup truck or station wagon parked next to a real CAR. These vehicles especially those with the blackened windows totally block a drivers view. It is impossible to see through these windows or the body of anything other than another car with clear glass.

    Passengers have often gotten out to watch for traffic as I leave a parking spot. I have often thought of purchasing one of those orange cones to place in the parking lot or street so that I can leave a parking space without getting hit.

    Reverse angle parking makes total sense to me.

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