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Back-in angle parking downtown: Would you favor the city trying it?

In Chuck Wieneke, City Hall, Monica Vernon on March 20, 2008 at 5:31 pm

It seems like 100 ideas are circulating around City Hall about how to transform the downtown.

Underpasses and overpasses. Changing one-way streets to two ways. Incorporating bike lanes. Adding quiet zones for trains.

One of the simplest to try out, says Ron Griffith, a city traffic engineer, is back-in angle parking.

What? Council member Chuck Wieneke asked Griffith. “That scares me to death,” Wieneke told Griffith at last night’s City Council meeting.

Wouldn’t motorists be more apt to hit cars already parked if they backing in? he wondered. Don’t they back over curbs?

Griffith, who heads up a nine-member task force looking at downtown transportation issues, noted that the concept of back-in angle parking has been around and has been used successfully for 30 or more years. Des Moines, he said, is currently conducting a pilot back-in parking project in its downtown, he said.

Transit  officials there, he added, thought that parking meters would be dropping left and right, but they haven’t been.

Griffith said the maneuver for back-in angle parking is similar to parallel parking, only you just angle in, you don’t straighten the vehicle out. The benefit is that you drive straight out of the parking spot, so you aren’t blocking traffic the way you do when you back out of an angle parking slot. Another advantage in a bicycle-friendly downtown, he said, is that you are far less likely to strike a passing bicyclist if you are not backing out of the slot.

In recent years, the city has mixed in some forward-in angle parking, and Griffith reported that the city has experienced fewer accidents with the angle parking than traffic studies suggest it should.

Council member Monica Vernon says she’s not too sure about the back-in idea. Too many kinds of parking downtown might be confusing, she says. Maybe adding more forward-in angle parking would make more sense, she says.

Griffith says Vernon has a point about too-many styles of parking. But he adds that it might make sense to change all angle parking downtown to back-in: It has advantages, he says. It would be easy, too, he adds, to set up a trial to see what the public thought.

Vernon says she most wants something to happen downtown this construction season.

“There’s pent-up demand” for people to see some progress, she told Griffith.

  1. I think we should give back in parking a try. It’s interesting to note that Ms Vernon says “there’s pent up demand” for some progress downtown. Her campaign netted some very big bucks from the Downtown Interests. Quess it’s payback time

  2. I believe the best statement of the night was when Chuck Wieneke stated that we did not need to hire a consultant to change a one way street into a two way street. The priorities of the engineers in the streets department only needed to be rearranged. Thank you Chuck!

  3. Thanks to Councilman Wieneke for stating the need for consultants to change the one way streets back was not needed. That project can be done in house.

  4. Quess it’s time for you to buy a “g” for your keyboard. 🙂

    Talk to people downtown, and you’ll find there’s pent up demand for action.

    So…what’s your payback? Since it seems as if think everyone has a price, what’s yours?

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