A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Back-in parking: Council notes complaints

Written June 14th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

On Second Avenue outside the Albany Post Office at 4:10 p.m. Thursday.

One day after the Albany City Council acknowledged complaints about the left-side, back-in angled parking outside the post office, I went there hoping to document that drivers had finally become accustomed to the layout. As you can see, that’s not what I found.

Councilwoman Bessie Johnson touched off a brief discussion toward the end of the council’s two-hour meeting Wednesday night. She said she was getting many complaints about the angled parking outside the post office’s Second Avenue side.

Councilman Dick Olsen said he had observed the situation when he was volunteering at the Monteith House across the street.

Mayor Sharon Konopa said that in Seattle recently, she saw angled back-in parking all over the place. She didn’t say whether it was on the drivers’ left side, as it is on Second. She thought the problem on Second was that the spaces were too narrow.

In Councilman Rich Kellum’s opinion, the problem may be that too many drivers don’t understand that Second is a one-way street going east. They apparently don’t see the signs.

Kellum has a point. Last month I talked to the driver of a big pickup who was parked nose-in. He was from out of town and had found all the spaces in the office’s public lot taken. As he pulled through the packed lot onto Second, he saw empty spaces to his right, turned that way because he saw no reason not to, parked, and waited while his passenger went inside.

What a pickup driver sees: Parking available on the right. The “wrong way” sign is obscured by his roof.

The angled back-in parking was decreed by the council in 2016 and carried out when streets around the post office were reworked in the winter and spring of 2017. After more than a year, the pattern still causes occasional confusion and consternation.

In front of the Albany Carousel on First Avenue, the city’s angled reverse parking makes sense and has caused, as far as I know, no complaints. That’s because it’s on the right-hand side of a one-way street.

On Second, the city could easily have provided the same number of additional parking spaces by putting in angled head-in parking on the left side. But the council was persuaded by claims that backing in would be safer.

Despite the complaints cited by the council, the city is not about to take the easy way out and restripe the parking spaces  to provide for head-in angled parking.

Instead, Chris Bailey of Public Works told the council Wednesday she’s thinking of bigger “one way” and “wrong way” signs and maybe painting bigger arrows on the pavement.

Which won’t do anything to prevent nose-in parking. Drivers can easily come down the one-way street the proper way, then make a swooping turn to head into one of the angled spaces. As they back out, they turn and then leave in the correct one-way direction. On Wednesday, that is exactly what the van in the background of the top photo did. (hh)



26 responses to “Back-in parking: Council notes complaints”

  1. Brad says:

    It’s pretty much a constant thing. I’m at the post office nearly every day and people pull into the spots forward all the time. I see people getting tickets for it occasionally. Maybe that’s the reason they keep them backwards, for the citation money.

  2. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Gotta love how you intentionally stage your photos for best effect to make your point – disregarding the obvious signage when taken from a different angle…and the vast majority of folks who know how to park.

    Lazy & dangerous drivers will never be deterred. It’s their contribution to civil disobedience…and yes, they should get cited.

    • Jeff Senders says:

      Ray,I’m with you most of the time, but not this time. The reason for back in parking at the Carousel was so people could unload their kids party supplies onto the sidewalk instead of the street. Not so with the post office. Only arrogant presumption on the part of City staff and Council, and to prove that both are infallible, keep the current parking system at the Post Office in place. Expect ongoing complaints. So screw everybody else, especially vulnerable seniors (“they are going to die soon anyway”)and spend all your time trying to make the wrong decision look like the right one.

  3. Tim says:

    I agree that the left-side alignment makes it very difficult to back-in park. Why? Because it requires me (the driver) to line up my rear bumper and start angling into a spot that is essentially in my blind spot. It’s outside of my side mirror’s range. My head is blocked by headrest, door frame, seat belt, etc. I even have a back-up mirror, but if the sun is at the wrong angle the glare blocks my view. Rain on the camera is also a problem.

    Another problem is that if I’m not backing between parked cars, I cannot see the stripes while backing into the spot.

  4. Constant Observer says:

    It’s craziness, plain and simple! There is plenty of evidence that after a year (isn’t it?) folks cannot manage the back-in parking consistently, and yet the obvious solution is not even considered. Let’s give “bigger arrows” a trial for a year, and see whether the city council can make believers of the entire population. After that is tried, can we please opt for a sane and easy parking plan?

  5. Ms J says:

    Council again ‘out of touch’ & ‘out of mind’.
    Bigger signs & throwing more money at a glaring mistake won’t change anything.
    People simply don’t like it nor want it — I can’t count how many times now Hasso has documented this with his articles & photos.
    It’s just too unfathomably hard for Council to admit to a mistake and correct it as the people they represent would like — or maybe they just never make mistakes.

    • Avid Reader says:

      Our council is very like Trump. Never make mistakes. (Ha!) The other day Trump said if things don’t work out with North Korea he would say he was wrong. Then, he quickly corrected that and said he would not admit he was wrong…that he would find some excuse. A la our Albany City Council….bless their little pea-sized brains.

  6. Doug Klinkebiel says:

    I don’t use it. Just like I don’t parallel park. Nothing against it, just don’t like backing up traffic while I maneuver for a parking space. I’d rather park farther away and walk anyway. Like you are with your bike, Hasso, I’m a power-walking junkie.

  7. Joyce says:

    The comment about Seattle having back in angled parking all over made me laugh. Sounded just like a kid, “Well, so-and-so does it all the time! Why can’t I?”.

    Personally, I don’t like it. It’s harder to back into a small parking spot than backing into a big, wide street, especially if you’re short or have back problems.

  8. Martha says:

    I think that sometimes the city council gets stuck on an idea that isn’t good, but they are too proud to admit it. Yes, those parking spaces could be used if they were configured differently. And, who in their right mind would say backing is safer? Not me for sure.

  9. eldon says:

    When you must back into a parking space it is difficult to see.
    Especially for older folk.The head does not easily turn to left.
    Either head in or back is difficult for older folk, but backing in is not the way they have done it for 50 to 70 years.

  10. Lundy says:

    Back-in parking certainly can be safer … but not in this configuration. The angled parking is where the parallel parking should be and vice-versa.

  11. Shawn Dawson says:

    Please councilors, listen to the people. It’s time to reverse course on this decision and restripe the parking spaces.

  12. Barbilou says:

    Does the council even consider that most of the people who even use the Post Office are older and sometimes elderly? If back-in parking is so much safer and supposedly popular why haven’t we been doing it for years and years? Most of the senior citizens I know were required to parallel park when they got their drivers licenses I don’t know of anyone who was required to have back-in parking skills…come on council get over yourselves and correct this parking fiasco!

  13. hj.anony1 says:

    I tell ya….this back in parking is dumb. Dumb as dumb can be.

    BUT we have far larger & impactful issues at hand! Children being ripped from their mothers’ breasts along our southern border and separated. A needless trade war starting with our northern border country.

    Bad. Bad. BAD! You still on aboard tRumpers???

  14. Margie Davis says:

    Back in parking is one of the most stupid things I’ve seen Albany do when it could easily be changed to front end angled parking! I have never seen parking like this before. Come on, Council….listen to the people of Albany! BTW…on the subject of the church that people are trying to save….why is it that Albany can spend gobs of money putting those ridiculous lights over 2nd and 3rd Streets (when there are already street lights on the sides of the street), but can’t save a church that has been an Albany landmark for years and years????

  15. Jimmy Lipper says:

    Could somebody sue the city if it could be shown that this situation caused an accident or someone got hurt as a result? Seems so silly not to paint stripes the other direction.

    • HowlingCicada says:

      Reasonable question, but there probably are well-established official engineering guidelines for this (and every other) type of parking, which would greatly mitigate the city’s liability if followed. City-government people tend to follow official guidelines, to both good and bad effect. I’m just guessing the legal stuff, don’t really know.

  16. RipleyRay says:

    The continued refusal of the council to correct an obvious mistake, that the public is clearly against, is fascinating to me. The only thing that is even more fascinating to me is Councilman Kopczynski’s automatic and often aggressive response in defending this mistake every time it comes up on this blog. It’s too bad he seems fixated on everyone eventually accepting that “he is right” rather than listening to the citizens he represents.

    Hasso please keep up the occasional posts on this topic as I always look forward to Councilman Kopcznski’s response that he knows what’s best for all of us.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      I visit the P.O. 1-3 times per week — different days, different times. While occasionally I will see someone driving the wrong way on a one way street, the vast majority of folks are using the parking spots as designed. And Rich is also very correct. I honestly believe “nosing out” into traffic is inherently much safer than backing out into oncoming traffic. It also requires less head-turning. Especially if you happen to have a larger vehicle blocking your view…

  17. Rich Kellum says:

    While backing in is more difficult that pulling in, you face the same problem when backing out, do you just put it in gear and start moving and hope that the folks coming will get stopped in time???? if you can not back in, then you are probably not safe to back out either….

  18. Beth Victors says:

    Whoever made that decision should be removed.
    Ridiculous for Albany. Just admit your mistake and repaint the frigging lines.

    • Bernice Laverdure says:

      No one considers us seniors who do not have back-up cameras and don’t “see as well as we used to”. I’ll never do back in parking at the post office – my neck does not turn back that far. Maybe some “senior parking” spaces could be created in the regular parking lot in the post office.

  19. Bob Buck says:

    I went to the busy Carousel on Fathers day and noticed that all the back-in spaces were vacant. All the patrons chose to park ‘up street’ , and not next to the Carousel building. Hmm, a message?

  20. Dick Olsen says:

    Thanks Hasso, Of the barrage you received, I’d say that “Lundy” made the most sense. For old guys like me that drive old cars with no back-up TV screen, parallel parking on the other side of the street is much easier.


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