Head Out Angled Parking

Head Out Angled Parking is one of the tools you need to have in your Urban Design Toolkit. Head Out Angle Parking is also know as Back In Angled Parking or Reversed Angled Parking, and is used in cities across North America.

Walkable West Palm Beach requested that I share this tool with all of you. West Palm Beach, like many cities could benefit from adding Head Out Angled Parking into their parking toolkit for the city. Take a moment to check Walkable West Palm Beach, and if you are in South East Florida, be sure to attend one of their meet ups to hang out with fellow urbanists.

Head Out Angled Parking is not new, however it is different then the parking you may be familiar with with the residents of your community. Change and the unknown can lead to confusion and conflict. To help the public understand the benefits, and to remove the mystery from this parking, a great informational video has been created.

Walkable 101: Head Out Angled Parking from Martin County CRA on Vimeo.

Dan Burden and the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute developed video to explain all of the benefits of this type of parking. The video was developed to inform the public, and is open source. Please feel free to share the link. Walkable and Livable Communities Institute can also provide digital video that communities can use on their local public access television channels.

There are a couple of lessons I have learned in utilizing this tool.

  1. Technical Benefits. I live in a community where the engineering department does not permit backing onto major roadways. This makes a lot of sense, because when you back out, it is hard to see oncoming traffic. This poses a problem in areas that need additional parking, when you are transitioning from a Stroad to Street, or when you are doing a road diet. Our Engineering Department does allow Head Out Angled Parking, because the first move of this parking is the same as parallel parking which is permitted on these streets, and the ease and position of the driver when exiting the space.
  2. Its Engineering. Engineers love to solve problems. Adding On-Street parking can pose a lot of problems. What will happen when you loose lanes, will the drainage still work, will people know how to do it, will drivers have clear sight lines, what about the safety of cyclists, ect, ect. There are no silver bullets with Head Out Angled Parking, but there is a lot of technical information available to fulfill the technical desires of any engineer. I have found that the engineers I work with actually get excited about this type of parking. Remember that engineers has safety at top of mind, and Head Out Angled Parking is one of the safest way to park.
  3. Name and Branding. Head Out Angled Parking will be new to most communities. I first described this parking as Back In Angled Parking, however this received a lot of push back in communities. Drivers love to go forward, but hate to back up. Calibrating the name to Head Out focuses on the positive. I also found that you need at least 2 minutes to fully explain this type of parking to an audience. When an audience hears something they are adverse to, they will shut down and stop listening. Head Out is positive, and provides you the beachhead to share the concept.
  4. We want more. Head Out Angled Parking can yield 30% more parking on a city block. Almost every street retrofit where I would propose Head Out Angled Parking are locations where business owners want more parking and the previous generations over paved/widened the right of way. These types of projects and tools need local stakeholder support. I have found that the desire for more parking overcomes the concerns of change.
  5. Communication. Engineers are not generally the best communicators. New ideas need strong communicators to work with stakeholders and the public. This may require making the same presentation multiple times to various stakeholder groups, picking up the phone, and fielding daily questions. When you are proposing new things like Head Out Angled Parking, include a team member that can focus on communication.
  6. Just Do It. Many times I hear that a community is going to do a “demonstration project.” This is typically 3-4 Head Out Angled Spaces on a vacant street, or in a parking lot near City Hall. On the surface, this seems like a great idea so citizens can try it, and city leadership can see how it works. The problem is that these demonstrations are completed in isolation to the way that cities work. This would be like place 20 feet of sidewalk in a vacant lot to see if people would walk in your community. Take the time to work with your community to educate and cultivate demand in a location where Head Out Angled Parking can be integrated into a project.

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4 Responses to Head Out Angled Parking

  1. WalkableWPB says:

    That was very educational, thank you for covering this Edward! The city was awarded some type of MPO grant (“transportation alternatives”?) and they are planning a project on Fern Street. I posted a photo of it on the “Green bicycle lane” post. It’s in design phase still.

    It’s a far too wide street and the plan is to put in head-in angle parking where there are now parallel spaces, with bioswales. Seems like head-out is more optimal though for bicycling and walkability. Do you think there will be constraints on doing head-out because it is grant money?

    • Edward says:

      Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grants are funding to support various transportation projects not traditionally covered in roadway projects. These grants include former Enhancement Grants, Design and Education, and Safe Routes To School. Each FDOT District establishes funding that will be budgeted 3 years out. Most MPO Boards choose to focus on grants that lead to construction of projects.

      Anyone can apply for a TAP Grants. In my community, we have several community activists that have successfully won these grants. I would encourage Walkable West Palm Beach to put together an application. Just remember that the grant funding is 3 years out, so this will not provide an instant result.

      This funds are very liberal in how they can be used. The key is how you write the scope and budget in your application. FDOT will not provide you more money, and they do not want to see less then what was originally proposed.

      TAP Grants include a contract with certain agreed to items. The agreement requires certain dates to submit final construction drawings. The scope can be modified, it is just harder to do as you progress in the project. For example, you can make more significant changes at the 30% review and almost nothing at the 90% review.

      The State is doing better financially, and has more money available for these grants. Several of our projects have moved up in time from 3 years to 2 years out. We have also received notice of additional funding. Both allow us to do more.

      I would recommend that you contact the City’s project manager as soon as possible to test this idea. This does not seem to be a great departure from the intent of the grant. You may also want to ask about the budget and funding. The portion of funding for the parking may be funded through other resources, which may not require so much oversight.

      It never hurts to ask.

  2. Pingback: Two types of angle parking | Walkable West Palm Beach

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