Pros & Cons of Back-In Angle Parking

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:

  1. Signal to indicate the upcoming movement
  2. Pull past the parking stall and stop
  3. 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!

 

Bryant Ficke Bio

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7 thoughts on “Pros & Cons of Back-In Angle Parking

  1. We have a segment of back-in angle parking on Main Ave in Spokane that was installed in 2016. I must admit I have mixed feelings about these parking stalls. They came with a heavy dose of politics. We have photos of people parking head-in, parking enforcement struggled with license plate reading, etc. There are a few logistics that should be taken into consideration beyond just the traffic engineering of it.

  2. One other difference between back in and pull in angle parking is the effect it has on following through traffic. With pull in, there is little to no delay for following through traffic. Then when leaving the parking space, the burden is on the pull-in parked vehicle to find a gap. With back in, the following through traffic is delayed during the parking maneuver, but pulling out is easier. This is not a big issue unless one is trying to use angle parking on a street carrying some through traffic. However, angle parking should really be used only on to streets that are a “destination” such as Canal Park in Duluth. The angle is also critical. For pull in, I have found that 35 degrees gives a reasonable number of spaces per block, it provides a good rear view angle, in minimizes the width needed for the area for through traffic and to complete the back out maneuver and it also positions most vehicle doors behind or ahead of the fronts or backs of the adjacent vehicles. The worst angle for parking is 90 degrees, unless one is in a parking lot.

  3. We used this technique in 3 locations in Binghamton NY, 2 of which are downtown. Public acceptance was pretty prompt, not a great deal of education required. Now it’s viewed as matter of course.

  4. For decades reverse parking has been the preferred on-street angle parking arrangement in some parts of Australia (see the state of New South Wales (NSW), where it is referred to as “rear to kerb”). It is the norm in most rural cities that have wide roads (because they were laid out in the 1800’s to accommodate large wagons pulled by six or eight bullocks). It is most often 60 degrees, but can be 90 or 45 degrees. You can find photos back to at least 1925 showing cars parked rear to kerb in the main streets (e.g., Tamworth, Orange). Check this link to the state’s driving test requirements. http://www.drivingtestnsw.com/practical-driving-test-manoeuvre-front-and-rear-to-kerb-angle-parking/

    Here are links to Google Maps street views of parking in Tamworth, Orange and Bermagui, all in NSW. Further down is a link to Ballarat, Victoria. They use front to kerb parking, and you can see what looks like a bike lane, with two vehicles manoeuvring across it. Not good for reversing into a bike!

    https://www.google.com/maps/@-31.087952,150.9304092,3a,75y,121.22h,83.29t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1s4Jg3PB6keRyXI50Ea1lKhw!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo1.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3D4Jg3PB6keRyXI50Ea1lKhw%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D306.24536%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

    Orange, NSW
    https://www.google.com/maps/@-33.2817425,149.0991252,3a,75y,187.8h,79.64t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sezH_y-BSZxEv_sNybVqcug!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

    Bermagui, NSW
    https://www.google.com/maps/@-36.4266281,150.0776045,3a,75y,47.43h,88.14t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sKa7E_-qAwcZl_72aaNXMNA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

    Ballarat, VIC
    https://www.google.com/maps/@-37.5608006,143.8465761,3a,75y,259.52h,78.71t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s6nQqqVvnpfP9DR8EQ1Py6Q!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

  5. Another disadvantage of such parking layout, which was not mentioned, is that the tailpipe is facing the sidewalk. If there are residential properties along the sidewalk, residents will protest as they will not like tailpipes facing their homes.
    As for the second disadvantage you mentioned, this can always be tackled with car stoppers.
    Nonetheless, I do find that this layout is safer compared to the opposite layout.