Broadway, north of downtown, is, well, broad: seven lanes wide, counting the parallel-parking spaces along Automobile Alley. Once upon a time I explained why:
[T]his section of Broadway is one of the widest streets in town. Its 100-foot width, according to legend, was chosen because it was wide enough to do a 180 in a horse-drawn wagon.
If a proposal championed by the Automobile Alley Association comes to fruition, rather a lot of drivers will be doing some unexpected 180s of their own: the parallel-parking spaces would be replaced by angle parking — which you would back into, rather than pull into nose-first.
The logic behind this is simple enough, it seems: yes, you do annoy traffic behind you when you stop and shift into reverse, but pulling out is a breeze, because you can actually see what’s coming without the usual vehicular blind spots. What’s more, if you have to load up some cargo, you can actually do it from the sidewalk, rather than from a spot immediately adjacent to a traffic lane.
Not that everybody will immediately take to the idea: last year business owners in Victor, Idaho complained bitterly about it, claiming it was unsafe, and that tourists, seeing it, decided to move on to the next town rather than risk it. Victor City Council stood its ground. Over in Rexburg, it was tried, and then abandoned.
On the Alley, I think it will work, if only because it would replace parallel parking, and there are people out there who will go to considerable lengths to avoid parallel parking whenever possible. (There are times when I am one of them.) But I don’t expect the transition would be smooth.
(Illustration courtesy of the Transportation and Parking Commission, Northampton, Massachusetts.)