15 Sep 2014
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Union Square Gets More Parking, with a Twist

Ever heard of "reverse angle parking?" Somerville is brining the practice, which is used in San Francisco, Washington, Montreal and New York, to Bow Street.

Update, March 27, 2012: The city of Somerville just issued a correction to its announcement about these parking spaces. There will be a total of 10 or 11 new spaces, not 22 new spaces. Currently, there are 12 spaces, so with the addition of the news parking spots, there will be 22 or 23 new parking spots.


Bow Street in Union Square is getting 22 "reverse angle" parking spaces beginning in May, according to an announcement from the city.

Reverse angle parking, as the name indicates, makes drivers back into the spaces as opposed to pulling in forward. The city says it's easier than parallel parking, it allows for more spaces, it's safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, and it lets people pull out of spaces facing forward.

The new spaces, which will be metered, will roll out in May as part of a pilot program, the announcement says.

"This simple change in parking geometry—which has been successful in cities from Washington to San Francisco—is another step in making Somerville a multi-modal community that works for cars and drivers but is also bike-friendly and walkable," said Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone in a statement about the new procedure.

As part of the new arrangement, the city will paint a new bike lane on Bow Street connecting to the bike lane on Somerville Avenue. What's more, back-in angle parking is said to be safer for bicyclists than parallel parking, where it's easy for bikers to get "doored."

Thomas Champion, city spokesperson, said the new parking design will also do away with one lane of traffic on Bow Street, which will serve as a traffic calming measure.

Back-in angle parking is a relatively uncommon procedure in the Somerville area, and the city has created a pamphlet outlining the process that it plans to distribute to Union Square businesses. (See attached PDF.)

The pamphlet lists some of the supposed benefits:

  • More parking spaces than with parallel parking
  • Safer for pedestrians, bikers and drivers
  • Easier to load and unload your car
  • No backing out blindly when you leave


Is back-in angle parking a good idea for Bow Street in Union Square, or will it cause confusion and congestion?

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