Viewpoint: The case for back-in parking on Brown Street
Back-in parking may not be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but you won’t know either way until you’ve had a bite.
Some forward-thinking people are proposing back-in angle parking along Brown Street as part of the downtown traffic upgrades. So far, discussion of making the street a one-way has been the controversial element. But with back-in angle parking being new to Rhinelander (although not new to the rest of the country), it might be an equally hot topic ahead.
In the process of considering new traffic patterns, including back-in angle parking, some will say, “This is the stupidest thing I ever saw.” But let’s give new ideas a chance.
Back-in parking is simple. The parking lines are painted differently. Instead of pulling straight in where the angled lines are against the traffic, the back-in lines are painted at a 40 degree angle with the traffic direction. You pull up just past an empty spot, signal, then slowly back in to the space.
Proponents – and an array of statistics – say back-in parking is much safer than front-in parking. Back-in lets departing drivers simply pull forward and merge into traffic instead of backing blindly against traffic as people here are used to, but which is statistically much more dangerous for low-speed collisions.
Back-in parking lets you load up your trunk from the curb, not the street where you stand in slushy, snowy traffic. And since the doors open to the curb in back-in parking, it’s safer to load and unload youngsters as the doors direct them to the curb and not the street. And cyclists are clearly visible when departing from a back-in position.
Consider a recent study by the Pensacola, Fla. parking commission, when they concluded:
“The trend for back-in angle spaces has been catching on rapidly in cities all over the U.S. For safety reasons, not one city in the U.S. has added front-in angled parking next to an active roadway since 2006… After year one of introducing downtown Pensacola to back-in angle parking, traffic accidents have decreased 100 percent.”
Trying back-in parking is pretty low-risk. We’re talking paint. If the plan doesn’t turn out to be a good fit for locals, we can always restripe the lines later and go back to the 1920’s. That’s all there is to it. Want to read more? Google the US Davis Back In/Head Out Angle Parking Study or any of a hundred other pages.
Why not give it a try? Who knows, it may just turn out to be better than sliced bread!
Christopher Rog, Rhinelander