A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Back-in parking: Start practicing

Written December 5th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
The parking spaces along this curb on Second Avenue outside the post office will be replaced by back-in parking.

The parking spaces along this curb on Second Avenue outside the post office will be replaced by back-in parking.

Albany drivers might want to start practicing how to back into a diagonal parking space on their left without hitting the vehicles on either side. If they plan on parking on the street outside the post office, they’ll need that skill starting some time next year.

The city council on Wednesday will be asked to award a contract of about $742,000 for street improvements on three sides of the Albany Post Office. A big part of the plan is to install back-in diagonal parking. The downtown urban renewal board decided on that option in May when it approved the work around the post office as Phase 1 of a much bigger streetscape improvement program.

On First Avenue opposite the post office block, in front of the new Albany Carousel building, the back-in parking spaces will be on the right side of the one-way street. On Calapooia and Second Avenue, however, the diagonal spaces will be on the left side, the post office side. Parallel parking will remain on the other side, and the driving lanes will be reduced to one.

The city opened eight bids for the work. The staff is recommending that the contract be awarded to Pacific Excavation of Eugene, the low bidder at $741,697. The project includes new asphalt, sidewalks, and trees, on the three blocks of First, Calapooia and Second, as well as curb extensions. It also includes about 1,600 feet of new water line and related fixtures on those streets as well as Washington Street and Water Avenue.

When this work is finished, probably about April, the city expects to launch similar work on parts of Second and Third, Ferry and Broadalbin, but without the diagonal parking. (hh)

16 responses to “Back-in parking: Start practicing”

  1. DAVID JONES says:

    And the question is, why back in instead of nose in? Or am I missing something.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      The CARA board including the city council was persuaded that back-in angled parking was safer, for people on the sidewalk as they load their vehicles, and for bicyclists. But in Sisters, right-hand back-in parking was put in and then taken out again when bicyclists and others complained that it put them at greater risk. I think the Albany board forgot that backing out of an angled space is a lot safer with back-up cameras, which lots of vehicles now have. But in back-in parking, the cameras are useless when trying to pulling into traffic and, no matter how you crane your neck, your view of the lane is blocked by a van or SUV or pickup parked next to you. As for numbers, the CARA board was told angled parking would provide 50 spaces, 19 more than exist now. On the actual design for the parking, I counted 58 angled spaces. (hh)

      • Shawn says:

        Thanks for the update on the number of gained spaces. 50 vs 31 is an advantage. Regarding 58 or 50, it could be that spaces were going to be added where they don’t exist now. But in any case, it does sound like parking will be slower, if a tad more risky, but there will be more spaces available. Probably a good move overall.

  2. Shawn says:

    How many parking spaces will this add in front of the Post Office?

    Just wondering, what will be gained for what will be a bit of a bottleneck as folks wait for others to park.

    Also, why not front-end diagonal parking, which would be easier for many and presumably provide the same number of spaces? Is there something risker about front-end diagonal compared to back-end diagonal parking?

  3. Jim Clausen says:

    Why back in? What’s the matter with going head first like most places do? Is there supposed to be some benefit to this choice? Seems kind of silly to put a system that’s inherently one of a kind parking and ignores the usual way of doing things…

    • centrist says:

      One word answer —-cost
      An unworkable alternative to offstreet parking, which does indeed have a cost
      So, really, the alternative has no value and should be rejected outright

  4. Rich Kellum says:

    When you back in you are backing up against a known thing, and a backup camera can also help with that, when you back out you are backing into traffic that you can not see. when you pull out you can always see better into traffic than you otherwise would have……..

    • John Hartman says:

      Councilor Kellum seems to have mastered the art of parking. Now if only he could master the art of listening to the electorate.

      • Rich Kellum says:

        So what bothers you more, that the DH got the story wrong, or that after you complained about my stance on your favorite subject, I won the election by such a wide margin??

    • centrist says:

      Critique of your logic.
      When a back-in parker pulls out, the car is aimed with the traffic flow. The right view is still obstructed. The car is in the traffic lane before the driver has a clear view.
      Given the overhang behind the real axle as well as the blind view that most rigs currently have (not so many have rear cams), the sidewalks will be blocked because folks will back until wheel contact.
      Solution looks pretty in the picture, but that dog won’t hunt

  5. centrist says:

    So, where did this come from??
    Long-haul truckers are adapt at backing into tight spaces. The rest of us, not so much. Body shops will likely profit, but no one else
    Sounds like a bad dream complicated by alternative biochemistry……………..

  6. Mark says:

    This will be very nostalgic. About one hundred years ago parking was that way to hand crank start cars. Who things that government moves slowly !

  7. Peggy Burris says:

    As someone who spends time in Salem at my favorite running store, I will avoid front end diagonal parking on Liberty street. Even with a back up camera on my car, when I am parked next to a large SUV or truck, a camera won’t help. You can only hope and pray that someone sees you slowly backing up onto a very busy street. As a mother, whose kids are now teenagers, would have LOVED back in spaces. Imagine you have 2 very excited kids to go to the carousel. You open your back passenger doors and kids can’t run into the street since they are blocked by the door. They can only go to the sidewalk. Unpacking for a birthday party, you are now doing it safely on a sidewalk, not in the street. Very smart city of Albany. I am sure the people of Albany can figure out the back in parking. One can hope………………….

    • Shawn says:

      Thanks to Peggy and others for informing me about the difficulties backing out of a diagonal spot. I had not thought of that perspective. I can see that pulling out of a diagonal spot front end first does give one a better view of the traffic.



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