Angle Parking

Most cities and towns use angle or diagonal parking to squeeze in a few more automobile parking spaces on city streets. BikeWalkKC is working to reform parking policy in Greater Kansas City to encourage a switch back-in angle parking, which is safer for bicyclists, pedestrians, and even motorists.

The Problem – Head-In Angle Parking

The traditional design in Kansas City has cars pull forward into the parking space, and then back out of the space into traffic. This design is hazardous to bicyclists because it means cars are blindly backing into traffic and potentially striking bicyclists. It is especially a problem to use head-in angle parking on streets designated as bike routes, where the city is encouraging bicycle traffic.

The Solution – Back-in Angle Parking

Example of Back-In Angle Parking in PhiladelphiaDozens of cities across the country have solved the problem simply reversing the angles. Cars now pull just past the parking space and then back into it.  It is like parallel parking, but much easier.  To pull out of the space, motorists look left for approaching traffic and then pull forward.

Proven to be safer
Traffic studies have proven that this design reduces collisions between cars and bicyclists.

Easier for motorists
While it might seem counter intuitive at first, back-in angle parking is actually easier for motorists.  The parking maneuver is similar to the parallel parking that everyone is used to, and the exiting maneuver is much easier. Experience dozens of cities has shown that it is very easy for motorists to learn the new design.

Safer for everyone
Back-in angle parking isn’t just safer for bicyclists, it’s also safer for motorists and their passengers.  With better sight lines, it reduces wrecks where people back out into an oncoming vehicle.  It also allows for unloading the trunk at the curb, instead of in the street. Finally, open car doors act as barriers to keep children out of the street, instead of deflecting them into traffic.

Win-Win Solution
Back-in angle parking is good for everyone.  Business owners can have needed parking capacity, and roadway users are kept safe

Back-In Angle Parking In Kansas City

Angle parking became an issue in Kansas City in 2009. A developer proposed a mixed-use infill project in the Columbus Park neighborhood and wanted to add angle parking to on 5th Street. Since 5th Street is designated as a future bike route in the City’s Bike KC plan, city staff and advocates pushed for back-in angle parking.

The developer pushed back and insisted on head-in angle parking. At that time the neighborhood was in the 1st District represented by Councilmembers Deb Hermann and Bill Skaggs, who both supported the developer and strongly opposed the “new-fangled” back-in angle parking. Strong community support led to 4th District Councilmember Beth Gottstein and City Engineer proposing a compromise demonstration project.

That first demonstration project debuted in November of 2010 on McGee Street in the Crossroads Arts District. That project did not cause chaos, so the Columbus Park developer was ultimately required to use back-angle parking on 5th Street when the project moved forward in the summer of 2012.

A third location was added in 2012 at Westport Road and Main Street in Midtown, as part of the MainCor streetscape project. Unfortunately we missed a great opportunity to convert existing angle parking to back-in when Baltimore Avenue was repaved in the Crossroads in 2011. A few property owners objected to the new-fangled idea and the City acquiesced.

The idea continues to spread. Residents and developers in Midtow’s Hyde Park neighborhood are in discussions with the Parks Department about converting the four lane Armour Boulevard to two lanes with back-in angle parking.

Reforming Parking Policy
Back-in angle parking was codified as the city standard in the 2010 Major Street Plan, the document guides the planning and engineering standards for city streets. Let’s Go KC, one of BIkeWalkKC’s predecessors, led the charge for reforming these and many other polices.

Where is it?

McGee Street
Crossroads, KCMO

Westport Road/Main Street
Westport, KCMO

5th Street
Columbus Park, KCMO

Other Cites
Des Moines, IA
Cedar Rapids, IA
Indianapolis
Knoxville, TN
Charlotte, NC
Salt Lake City, UT
Washington, DC
Marquette, MI
Tucson, AZ
Wilmington, DC
Chico, CA

More information

Des Moines, IA brochure

Salt Lake City Questions and Answers

Images of Back-in Angle Parking, Project for Public Spaces

NPR’s Car Talk endorsement