Reverse-angle parking — also called back-in angle — is a concept new to the metro, but it’s an idea proponents say would make parking safer.

“Looking at best practices for integrating parking with other functions of the street — particularly walkability and also bike lanes — front-in angle parking ... is often really dangerous,” said Blair Humphreys, a planner and urban designer.

That’s how he came across reverse angle, which is basically the opposite of front-in angle parking.

“The trunk of your car is next to the sidewalk, which if you’re contemplating mostly retail traffic, then that’s a good thing,” said Anthony McDermid, chairman of the Automobile Alley board and principal of TAP Architecture. “When the doors of the car open, you’re protected from the moving traffic. When you’re pulling out of a back-in space, you can see oncoming traffic.”

So this all sounds good, right? Will we see reverse-angle parking here?

“We asked for back-in angled parking, and the city said not just ‘No,’ but ‘Hell, no,’” McDermid said. “Back-in is a new concept. The city has said that … because Oklahoma City has never seen it before, it will confuse citizens and … it will be hazardous for Oklahomans who have never seen it before.”

Stuart Chai, city traffic engineer in the OKC Public Works Department, said no one has ever formally asked the traffic commission to consider reverse-angle parking.

“The concept of reverse-angle parking is more a matter of preference, not necessarily (for) safety or efficiency,” he said.

For now, the Auto Alley board is going to try for front-in angle parking.

How exactly do drivers maneuver cars into reverse-angled spots? It’s easy, but it does take some education.
To reverse angle, a driver stops just past the spot (exactly like parallel parking) and simply backs in. That way, the driver is pulling forward out of the spot when exiting the space.

There is, of course, a wrong way to do it. “The worst thing that can happen is if someone pulls across … it’s kind of an open left turn,” Humphreys said. “When it comes time to back up, you’re in bad shape.”

But, he said drivers are backing out into traffic with front-in angle, so it’s not that different of a situation.

Reverse-angle parking may be off the table for now, but McDermid said switching from front-in to back-in is as simple as re-striping the lines.

Humphreys said he thinks reverse angle will catch on if it’s made part of a comprehensive plan. “It’s going to take a commitment to doing it; I don’t think it’s something that the city should just dip their toe in with.”


  • or