As a CU alum and current Austin TX resident, I was in town last week visiting friends and saw your story about reverse angle back-in parking for Boulder. Speaking from direct experience with Austin’s recent test conversion to this same parking configuration on two high traffic streets, I can tell you that it is a complete mess, a deterrent to shopping in those areas for most residents and has a negative impact on sales for those unfortunate businesses near it.
Largely supported by a minority of recreational cyclists, who are riding their bikes on those streets for exercise and not to shop or go out for dinner, they don’t have to deal with the consequences. Many drivers are simply not comfortable backing into a tight angled space downhill with limited visibility. And since these are high traffic areas, after you discover a space, signal, stop and shift into reverse, inevitably the cars behind you are too close and gridlocked so they can’t back-up to let you in. If you can back in, realize that the nose of your car is going to swing into the 2nd lane of traffic causing an accident or for them to stop at the least. Most drivers try it, they can’t do it, then just continue on down the block looking for a “regular” spot. Many of the reverse angle spots sit empty so there’s actually less parking downtown.
Additionally, many cars are rear wheel drive. In Boulder when snow and ice line the gutters, it’s going to be difficult for rear wheel drive vehicles to pull out from an angled uphill stop on ice or snow without sliding into the car next to them.
Although I don’t think data is in on the increased number of hit-and-run side-swipes from inexperienced drivers trying to back in unsuccessfully, I’d bet the numbers are going to be much higher than front in parking. And watching interviews with retailers who are pissed and losing business because customers are bypassing their stores and shopping in other areas where parking is easier to appease the literally .002% of the population it might benefit is ridiculous.
Austin is a Lance Armstrong bike-friendly town and has spent a lot of money creating bike paths everywhere that go mostly unused in favor of traveling high-traffic city roads. Back-in parking here was a knee-jerk reaction to appease a loud complaining few, and not a practical or tested well thought through long term solution or appropriate use of city funding when there are so many issues relative to infrastructure that truly could alleviate traffic burden and improve bicycle safety. Don’t make the same mistake we did.