The Department of Transportation, the agency responsible for spreading this nuisance throughout our neighborhoods, says that reverse angle parking—that is, parking with your back bumper to the curb rather than your front bumper–is safer and will help prevent accidents.
DOT’s point of view is that backing into the space “increases visibility when motorists are exiting spaces.”
True—if everyone is driving family sedans and coupes. But has anyone noticed how many gigantic SUVs, pickup trucks and (more modest) minivans are parked around our neighborhoods? Up to a third, I’d say.
And if you are unlucky enough to walk to your car at the end of the day and one of these motor monsters has parked to your left, you still have to pull out of your space blind, and without a rear-view mirror to help you.
And once you have inched out of your space so that you do have some visibility, you need to have the spinal flexibility of a Cirque du Soleil acrobat because you must look nearly behind you to see cars coming up to you, and again, you don’t have the benefit of a mirror to help.
One more point: Reverse angle parking, at 45 degrees, takes up more space on the block than head-in parking at 60 degrees. So if you are on a street that once had head-in angle parking and DOT switches to reverse-angle, you lose a few spaces.
In a city that is critically short of parking, losing spaces is not good.
Reverse-angle parking has some advantages over parallel parking. You do gain a few spaces with reverse-angle if your street is switched from parallel parking.
• If you are traveling with kids, they will find it hard to run into the street because with reverse angle parking, the car door is between the kid and the street, at least for an instant or two. So you could say it’s safer. Somewhat.
• And it is safer for cyclists, who rightfully loathe riding past a long row of angle-parked cars because cars can back directly into their path, and it’s hard for motorists backing out of the spaces to see the cyclists.
Right-ho. But motorists using reverse angle parking still have to look pretty much behind them to see cyclists coming, and in any given row of angle parking there is sure to be one or two SUVs or pickup trucks blocking the field of view.
Another thing that makes reverse-angle parking a pain in the neck: it requires side streets to go from two-lanes of traffic, two-way to one lane of traffic, one way. And the one-way streets do not alternate directions, so in Upper Fells Point, for instance, you can travel a few blocks before finding a street that goes the direction you want to travel.
And yet another thing about reverse-angle parking–Automobile exhaust blows straight into the sidewalk, which is a nuisance when lots of people are coming and going at the beginning and end of the day, and it’s unpleasant for people who like to sit on their porches and steps.
Frank Murphy, Deputy Director of DOT, says that all future angle parking will be reverse-angle parking. I hope DOT will reverse its decision, be flexible, and decide neighborhood by neighborhood.
by Jacqueline Watts