By Bryant Ficek, PE, PTOE
Back-in angle parking is a relatively new concept starting to be seen in more areas. The basic concept is similar to standard 45-degree parking. But instead of pulling forward into the space, drivers back into the angled stall. This is also referred to as reverse-angle or reverse diagonal parking.
For the driver, the basic steps are like parallel parking:
- Signal to indicate the upcoming movement
- Pull past the parking stall and stop
- Reverse into the parking stall at a 45-degree angle
There are many benefits to back-in angle parking, which is why this type is becoming more popular, including:
- Drivers have a better view of traffic, both vehicles as well as bicycles, when exiting the parking space into the travel lane
- Eliminates the difficulty drivers have of backing into moving traffic
- Puts the trunk or back of vehicle to the sidewalk for safer loading/unloading
- Positions drivers and passengers, particularly kids, to enter or exit the vehicle toward the sidewalk with the doors shielding people from moving traffic
- Arguably easier to back into an angled space than a parallel space
These advantages have proven safer in terms of reducing crashes, particularly those between exiting vehicles and adjacent bicyclists. For traditional pull-in parking, the exiting maneuver into traffic can be blind depending upon the cars parked around you.
Back-in angle parking is not without its disadvantages. Key considerations are:
- Steep learning curve similar to the experience of introducing roundabouts
- Drivers not knowing exactly when to stop when backing, resulting in the vehicle overhanging the sidewalk or hitting landscaping or other amenities
- Potential congestion with the initial stopping and backing maneuver, like parallel parking
- Danger of drivers from the opposing traffic lane pulling across the road and nose-first into the parking stall
The learning curve is one that can be overcome with education and installation on a side street before attempting on a major thoroughfare. Signage can also help to reduce confusion.
We are only aware of a couple areas in Minnesota where this idea has been implemented, although it does seem to be talked about more lately (maybe that just us bringing it up). It will be interesting to see if this idea gains momentum like roundabouts or becomes an obscure (to the public at least) traffic engineering tool of last resort.
A final note, reader James Gattis, professor at University of Arkansas, provided us this great image of back-in angle parking in Washington, DC. Thanks for sharing James!