A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

That’s supposed to be safer?

Written November 1st, 2017 by Hasso Hering

See anything coming? No? I didn’t either and almost got clipped by a passing rig.

At the risk of beating a dead horse, remember the reason why Albany city officials imposed back-in parking on Second Avenue outside the post office?

It’s safer, they said. You can see traffic coming before you pull out, as opposed to not being able to see traffic when you back out of conventional, head-in angled spaces, they said.

It’s as though the people making that claim had not driven a modern vehicle in years.

The photo shows what happens in real life. In actual traffic, there are different vehicles. Some are compact cars that are low to the ground. Others are big, like vans and pickup trucks. Vehicles of recent vintage also have backup cameras mounted at their very tail ends, many of them anyway.

In a little car with a backup camera, you can back out of a diagonal parking space and the camera’s wide angle will spot oncoming traffic long before you can see it. Also, as soon as your backup lights come on, oncoming traffic can see that you are preparing to back out.

But with back-in parking on the left side of the street, as in front of the post office, in some situations the whole front end of the car has to poke out of the space and into the traffic lane before the driver can see around the obstruction to his right. Good thing that there isn’t all that much traffic there, most of the time. For it surely isn’t safe to pull into traffic blind. (hh)

14 responses to “That’s supposed to be safer?”

  1. Terry says:

    Nothing the city proposes surprises me anymore. Again if we hadn’t wasted millions of dollars on the carousel this conversation would even be happening. Downtown is the city officials little utopia. I avoid it at all costs.
    The wackier they get the less I go down there!

    • Patrick Quinn says:

      Terry, the money was not wasted since it was donated money and donated time that built the Carousel and It’s building. It was the City’s leadership that did not foresee (or maybe they did foresee and thought they could talk the post office out of it’s building) and plan for traffic problems. I am pretty sure that common sense would have told them that the Carousel was going cause a little larger crowd on that end of town. Have to agree with Hasso, the back-in parking was never a good option. Now we wait and see if the City leadership can own up to a mistake and make it right by re-striping front end in parking. just my opinion.

  2. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Having now used the back-in parking multiple times. the picture you show proves the efficacy of back in parking for safety. A simple glance to the right as you are *slowly* pulling forward is very obviously *much* safer for the vast-vast majority of drivers vs. backing out and having to glance backward over your shoulder to discern traffic.

    “…as soon as your backup lights come on, oncoming traffic can see that you are preparing to back out.”

    Which also happens immediately when the nose of your care moves into the traffic lane as you pull forward. NO difference IMO.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      The difference with the lights is that they come on when you shift into reverse but are still standing still. That gives drivers a chance to slow down, let the guy come out, and perhaps even get in the same parking spot.
      The simple glance to the right showed me nothing but the front end of the pickup in the spot two spaces down. By the time I could see anything of traffic I was halfway out in the lane, realized a pickup was barreling toward me and had to shift into reverse to get back. After that experience, I went around the block and parked in the same spot to take the photo showing the impossibility of seeing anything before getting into traffic.
      With a backup camera, you see up and down the street as soon as you shift into reverse, with your foot still on the brake. You don’t have to back into traffic in order to see anything.

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        …and what % of vehicles have backup cameras? I stand by what I said – as I’m sure you do…

      • Andy says:

        In your example, where a truck is obstructing your view of traffic, the truck is also obstructing traffics view of you. Stands to reason that traffic would not be able to see your reverse lights until you moved out into traffic, same as if you were backing up they would not see your lights.

        Also, most cars have headlights, and most cars these days automatically turn those headlights on (or have DRLs) that indicate someone is in the car an intending to drive.

        I’m not disagreeing with you that back in parking is troublesome – I haven’t used it yet, so I can’t comment on its safety or efficiency – but it seems like six of one, half dozen of the other on your example.

    • Robert kahn says:

      Councilman Ray….horse exhaust! Your argument in
      favor holds about as much water as a sieve.
      Back in parking is a total joke. Complete waste
      of my tax money .

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        How many accidents have arisen since they were installed? I have not heard of any. As I have stated before, if you’re unable to properly use them – don’t…

  3. Tim says:

    Obviously this is so safe, that I’ve only ever seen this in Albany.

  4. Thom Turner says:

    If back in parking was any good at all we would see it used more often. Reality is that it’s not only dangerous as the article and picture shows but lots of people can’t back up into a spot very easily either. It’s an over complication to an already bad situation.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      If you can’t back into a space, I’m sure you are even worse @ parallel parking. Find an empty striped lot (fairgrounds, etc.) and *practice* Don’t lay your guilt trip on those of us that do benefit from having the extra parking spaces…

  5. Tony White says:

    It’s just the “neato idea of the month” for the City Council. Well said, Hasso.

  6. James Engel says:

    Say Mr Kopczynski, would you point out any other parking lot in this city where back in parking is the required norm! And Mr Quinn, does the contractor realize they “donated” their time & materials?? Do we tax payers who have tax measures skimmed to fill the CARA coffers that spend $$ on the CARA-sell do so willingly??? This whole parking issue reminds me of that children’s story about the “King Has No Clothes”…well our Council has no parking solution!!

  7. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “Say Mr Kopczynski, would you point out any other parking lot in this city where back in parking is the required norm!”

    None that I aware of — nor should there be any because, as you so aptly stated, they are a “parking lot” and not a street. I’ll hazard a guess that over time, we will see more back in parking on streets.


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