Jul 28, 2014
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Union Square Back-In Parking is Working, Says City

It's slowed driving speeds, made life better for bikers and pedestrians, and could lead to more business in the square, the city argues. Others have disagreed.

, called back-in angled parking, is working, according to an announcement from the city sent Wednesday.

With normal angled parking, drivers pull forward into diagonally situated parking spaces. With back-in angled parking, drivers reverse into the spots. It requires them to pull in front of the spot, stop, then back in—similar to parallel parking, but not as complicated to finish the job.

This new method, which accompanied a new single-lane traffic configuration on Bow Street, debuted in Union Square at the end of May, and almost immediately there was a mixed reaction.

A Boston Herald article panned the initiative. And on Somerville Patch, .

"The worst," one person commented.

"This has got to be the most idiotic thing Somerville has ever done!" said another.

Perhaps more people came to the new street configuration's defense, including Charlie Denison, .

Now, about a month after the new parking procedure began, the city has announcemed "initial data suggests that the pilot program to calm traffic, promote pedestrian and bicycle safety, and increase the parking supply in Union Square is working as intended."

"We were fairly confident that, once people got used to the idea, it would make Bow Street safer, more walkable and more bike-able," said Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone in a statement. "But I am particularly pleased by the increase in parking supply, as it allows for additional customers throughout the day, which can result in additional revenues for our local customers."

The new parking configuration added about 10 new spots to Union Square.

The city's announcement, which you can read here, says the new configuration has led to a "modest" drop in driving speeds and a better experience for pedestrians and bikers.

Perhaps most interesting, the announcement engages in some arithmetic, based on hypothetical outcomes, to measure the "potential" economic impact to the square.

Acting Director of Traffic and Parking Matthew Dias, "citing a survey that shows the average Union Square customer depends about $50 per vista," according to the announcement, made the following statement:

"The new spaces create the ability to accommodate about 100 additional business trips per day—and we know the spaces are getting used. That could mean, for example, an extra $5,000 per day in added business opportunities, or over $100,000 per month from drivers alone. We don't yet know the extent to which the added bicycle and foot traffic is also helping local businesses."

If you're a Union Square business owner who's seen an increase in business, and you think the new parking configuration might have something to do with it, we'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. If you're a customer who shops in Union Square more because it's easier to find parking, do the same.

Conversely, if you've seen a drop in business, or if you now avoid Union Square because it's a bigger traffic headache, let us know.

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