Tuesday, February 15, 2011

OMG! Back-In/Head-Out Angle Parking

Back In, Diagonal Parking
Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates

Now that the commotion over rezoning the open land around the Bush DART station has quieted down, it's time for some housecleaning. Little noticed in the effort to derail the new zoning was one little detail about this potential mixed-use development. And just as the recent introduction of flashing yellow arrows to control left turns brought out the curmudgeon in many of us, expect this latest little wrinkle in how we all drive to stir up the curmudgeons again, if and when the concrete is poured and the stripes are painted on the pavement.

After the jump, the coming distress over back-in/head-out angle parking.

Last June, a study by Gateway Planning Group, Inc. was presented to the Richardson City Council. It contained recommendations for how development of the huge tract of land straddling US 75 just south of the Bush Tollway could be better managed with form-based code instead of the traditional use-based zoning. Below is one of the slides they showed. Notice the bullet point: "Reverse angled parking."

Infocom Drive
City of Richardson

I can already hear the curmudgeons saying, quit messing with the parking rules we've been using since they were handed down by God himself.

I say Jesus never had to parallel park an SUV. Back-in/head-out angle parking makes a lot of sense, as explained in this presentation by Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates. Angle parking (either direction) is easier than parallel parking and allows more cars per foot of curb. Back-in/head-out angle parking moves loading and unloading the car's trunk to curbside, where it's safer. Car doors open to create a barrier between passengers and the street and guide children to the curb. The driver has much better visibility when exiting the parking spot. Oncoming drivers and cyclists can make eye contact with drivers exiting the parking spot.

But none of that will matter when drivers first encounter back-in/head-out angle parking in Richardson. Curmudgeons will argue that the old way of doing things was just fine. Traffic engineers will be accused of introducing change for change's sake. No one will notice the reduced number of accidents and injuries. Such is the fate of progress.

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