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    News

    Councilwoman Kell Proposes & Council Approves Studying Reverse Angle Parking for Possible Future Use In Parking Impacted Parts of LB

    City management, Council committee will also examine three pedestrian measures


    (December 11, 2002) -- 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell has proposed and the City Council has approved studying reverse angle parking for possible future use in parking impacted parts of LB, as well as examining the feasibility of three pedestrian measures.

    In reverse angle parking, drivers back into angled parking slots, and pull out by driving forward into the traffic flow, thought to be safer and easier. Some LB streets have standard angle parking, in which drivers enter forward and back out into traffic.

    Reverse angle parking
    Displayed during Council coverage,
    Courtesy: HTTV Cable Channel 21

    Councilwoman Kell agendized the item for the Dec. 10 Council meeting and displayed photos of the measures (including the one televised above) taken by husband and former LB Mayor Ernie Kell during a recent trip to Salt Lake City to attend a National League of Cities meeting.

    The Council voted unanimously to refer reverse angle parking (as well as audible traffic signals, count-down signals and orange flag crosswalks, details below) to the City Manager, the Public Safety Advisory Commission and the Councilís Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for review, and determine cost and feasibility with a report back to the Council within six months.

    During the discussion, 2d district Councilman Dan Baker, who district is parking impacted, indicated he favored studying reverse angle parking, but didn't want it to derail current projects implementing standard angle parking. In a colloquy with Public Works Director Ed Shikada, Councilman Baker urged that studying reverse angle parking not interfere with plans now progressing to add areas of standard angle parking to parts of the 2d district (and Mr. Shikada concurred).

    Councilwoman Kell's agendizing memo explaining the measures states in pertinent part:

    While at the National League of Cities Meeting in Salt Lake City during the week of December 2-6, I noticed a number of items which have been implemented there and are greatly assisting in the safety of pedestrians and bike riders...In particular, there are four items of special interest:

    1. Reverse Angle Parking
    2. Audible Traffic Signals
    3. Count-Down Signals
    4. Orange Flag Crosswalks

    Reverse Angle Parking

    While this is new in Salt Lake City, Reverse Angle Parking has been successfully used in Seattle, Tucson, and other cities since the 1970ís...It is primarily used on streets with bike trails which are wide enough to accommodate angled parking. During the three months it has been in place in Salt Lake, accidents and near accidents with bicyclists have decreased. This is because those motorists who are about to exit can more clearly see upcoming bicyclists and, therefore, wait until the path is clear.

    Audible Traffic Signals

    To accommodate the blind and those with severe sight problems, downtown Salt Lake City was among the first to test audible traffic signals in 2000. According to Terry Pomeroy, spokesperson for the Utah Council for the Blind, "These signals make crossing the street safe again." The audible signals which sound like birds chirping let those with sight problems know that the "Walk" sign is flashing in the sidewalk and that they may proceed with caution.

    Count-Down Signals

    Count-Down Signals in Salt Lake are used in conjunction with the ""Walk/Donít Walk" or ""Walking Person/Hand" signs to provide information to the pedestrians regarding the amount of time remaining to safely cross the street. [T]hese signals have resulted in pedestrians making better decisions about whether or not to cross an intersection thus resulting in fewer accidents at these intersections.

    Orange Flag Crosswalks

    Perhaps the simplest yet most dramatic pedestrian safety initiative has been one of the most basic: the installation of orange flags at crosswalks to improve pedestrian visibility. Pedestrians simply pick up a bright orange flag and carry it with them while crossing and leave it on the other side. Since it was begun in 2000, usage has grown to 14% and requests for new flagged intersections continue. To enlarge the program, Salt Lake initiated an "Adopt-A-Crosswalk" in January 2001. As of October 2002, the success of the program has led to installations at 36 city maintained locations, 25 school maintained locations and 44 resident/business maintained locations.

    MOTION

    I respectfully request that my colleagues on the City Council join me in referring these items to the City Manager, the Public Safety Advisory Commission and the City Councilís Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for their review, a determination of costs, and a determination of the feasibility to implement these and other pedestrian and bicyclist safety measures. I further request that a report on this proposal come back to the City Council within 6 months.

    Attachments to the memo provided the following additional materials on the Salt Lake City measures [which appear to have been prepared by Salt Lake City sources]:

    REVERSE ANGLE PARKING

    Reverse angle parking is similar to both parallel and standard angle parking. Like parallel parking, the driver enters the stall by stopping and backing. However, the movement is simpler and faster not requiring the front of the vehicle to be maneuvered against the curb. In contrast to standard angle parking the visibility while exiting reverse angle stalls is much improved. No longer will one need to blindly back the entire rear half of their vehicle out into an active travel lane with the hope that approaching vehicles will stop. Now, with only a quick look to the left oncoming vehicles are easily seen as you exit forward.

    Reverse angle parking provides a safer environment for bicyclists using the roadways since drivers are able to see them easier (and much sooner) when exiting their parking stalls. Also, in cities where this type of parking is used, a decrease in parking related accidents has been reported...

    Back-in or Reverse Angle-Parking

    Q Why should we convert to reverse angle parking?
    A: Reverse angle parking provides a safer environment for bicyclists using the roadways since drivers are able to see them easier (and much sooner) when backing out of their parking stalls as compared to standard angle parking. Also, in cities where this type of parking is used they have reported a decrease in the number of parking related accidents since it was installed.

    Q Is backing into the stalls difficult?
    A: The backing maneuver may be unfamiliar, but certainly is much easier than parallel parking, a common task on city streets.

    Q : How do you communicate with the cars behind you that you are going to back into a parking stall?
    A: The law requires you to signal when slowing and backing into a parking spot. You should signal just as you would when parallel parking.

    Q: Won't this type of parking increase the number accidents as cars stop to back into the stalls?
    A: Actually, one of the most common causes of accidents is people backing out of standard angled parking without being able to see oncoming traffic. Reverse angled parking removes this difficulty. The initial stopping and signaling required for back-in angle parking is already an everyday occurrence throughout the city with parallel parking. Because of this familiarity, we do not expect accidents to increase. In fact, both Seattle and Tucson reported a decrease in parking-related accidents after back-in angle parking was implemented.

    Q It's so easy just to pull forward into a standard angle stall. Doesn't this convenience make it the best parking method?
    A: It boils down to safety and when you want to have your convenience. With standard angle parking it's simple to pull in but can be a bear to pull out. You may have to back your car entirely out into the traffic lane before you can even see the oncoming traffic (not very safe.) With back-in angle parking getting into the stall is more difficult than going front-in but exiting the stall is more convenient because you don't have to pull out very far at all to see the oncoming traffic. And if you have packages to load you can stand on the sidewalk while loading them into your trunk (that's a nice convenience!).

    Q: How do I enter a reverse angle-parking stall located on the opposite side of the street?
    A: You will need to perform a U-turn or, if a U-turn cannot be performed safely or legally, go around the block and then back in. Again, the only difference here from standard angle parking is the backing in part. Entering standard stalls from the opposite side of the street would also require a complete U-turn.

    Q: Is it legal to perform a U-turn in Utah at a midblock location with good visibility?
    A: Yes. The only time you cannot perform a U-turn in Utah on city streets is at a location with poor visibility, over an island or over two sets of solid double yellow lines.

    Q: Don't you realize this type of backing maneuver is very difficult for women?
    A: No. We know of no evidence to suggest gender plays any role in the ability to back or park a vehicle.

    Device: Count-Down Signal

    Count-down signals are used in conjunction with conventional pedestrian signals to provide information to the pedestrian regarding the amount of time remaining to safely cross the street. It is hypothesized that pedestrians will use this information to make better decisions about when to enter the crosswalk. Depending on user preference, the count-down timer starts either when the WALK or Walking Person indication appears or when the flashing DONT WALK or Hand indication appears.

    The timer continues counting down through the flashing DONT WALK (Hand) clearance interval. When the steady DONT WALK or Hand appears, the countdown signal will be at zero.

    Currently, there are two types of countdown signals being manufactured. The first type is a unit containing two signal heads, with one of the heads displaying the count- down timer and the other displaying the Walking Person/Hand indications. The second type of signal is a single-head unit that contains both the count-down timer and pedestrian signal indications in one unit.

    The count-down signal provides the pedestrian with the number of seconds remaining to safely cross the street. Count-Down signals are presently installed in a number of cities throughout --- the U.S. and Canada, including:Sacramento, CA

    Orange Flag Crosswalks and the "Adopt-A-Crosswalk" Program

    Perhaps the most dramatic pedestrian safety initiative has been one of the most basic: the installation of orange flags at crosswalks to improve pedestrian visibility. Pedestrians simply pick up a bright orange flag and carry it with them while crossing and leave it on the other side. Admittedly a low-tech initiative, it is highly effective and one that has achieved significant, continuing media coverage and public comment.

    Observations and interviews of pedestrians at the initial six crosswalks revealed 11 % of the pedestrians used the flags while many non-users felt they looked silly carrying the flags. Many drivers and pedestrians believe there is benefit, however, simply from drivers seeing the orange flags in their holders on the sides of the street reminding them of the presence of the crosswalk. Overall flag usage has since increased to 14% and requests for new flagged crosswalks continue.

    Due to the logistical difficulty in maintaining outlying flag crossings, the "Adopt-A-Crosswalk" program was created in January 2001. Under the program, individuals living or having businesses within a block of a marked crosswalk may "adopt" the crosswalk by agreeing to monitor the flag containers to insure flags are available at both ends of the crosswalk as well as purchase replacement flags as needed. In return, the City installs the flag holders, usage signs and an initial supply of flags. The "Adopt-A-Crosswalk" program has also been expanded to elementary schools where school personnel agree to monitor and maintain the flags at school crosswalks in return for free flags.

    The cost to install two flag holders, each with an instruction sign and six flags is less than $100. The annual cost to the City for replacement flags is currently less than $12,000 citywide. As of October 23, 2002, the success of this program has led to installations at 36 city maintained locations, 25 school maintained locations and 44 residential/business maintained locations...


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