'Safer' parking pilot project coming to Sarnia

A section of Front Road in Sarnia will be converted to back-in angle parking by the end of the summer. 

'It makes a whole lot of sense'

Residents and business owners on Sarnia's Front Road are largely optimistic about the introduction of back-in angle parking. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

A section of Front Road in Sarnia will be converted to back-in angle parking by the end of the summer. 

According to David Jackson, acting director of engineering with the City of Sarnia, the change will allow for more parking spaces on a popular street.

Back-in angle parking is not only safer than traditional parallel parking, it's also easier. 0:15

"There's a core block, three-or-four block area in the downtown where parking is in high demand," said Jackson. "The main motivation is just increasing the capacity of parking."

But Jackson found out there are other benefits too, including safety when it comes to leaving your parking spot — like being able to see where you're going.

"It makes a whole lot of sense," said Jackson. "You wonder why there's not more of it out there."

Another safety benefit Jackson listed is access to your trunk without having to be out on the road. 

Rather than a pilot project, the parking spots in Sarnia are intended as a permanent addition, Jackson said. If the project is successful, the municipality might look at other locations to put back-in angle parking spots in. 

Jackson said so far, feedback from city residents and business owners has been positive about the idea. 

Lessons learned from the Gateway to the West

Sarnia is only one of the latest Canadian cities to experiment with back-in angle parking. 

Manitoba's capital Winnipeg first conducted a back-in angle parking pilot project during the summer of 2017. 

The project was designed as a way to balance the need for motor vehicle parking on Bannatyne Avenue in the city's downtown core with an increased push for bike lanes. 

"The bike lanes essentially were going to be removing parking — that was going to be the major impact to the area," explained Mark Doucet, a transportation facilities planning engineer with the City of Winnipeg's public works department.

"It gave us opportunity to use more pavement for parking than parallel parking offers."

After consulting with residents and local businesses, who articulated that "parking is critical to the vibrancy of the community and the success of businesses," the city decided to test out angle parking. 

Doucet explained that initial public reaction was mixed, though opinions on both sides expressed concerns about road safety. 

According to Doucet, however, the City soon found that the angled parking spots led to calmer traffic, with vehicles moving more slowly to accommodate what some drivers perceived as narrower roads. 

"People were sharing the road better, so it had a traffic-calming effect," said Doucet. 

The pilot project proved to be successful enough that the angled parking spots remain a fixture on Bannatyne Avenue to this day. 

Doucet added that the shift from parallel parking to angled parking meant that roads were able to accommodate 15 per cent to 20 per cent more parked cars on the pilot street.

Winnipeg currently features angled parking on seven city streets, with an additional three more to come before the end of the summer. 


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