Reverse angle parking has been a thorn in the side of Cape Charles for a few years now, and most of us are still trying to understand what benefits if any it offers. The Town’s party line has been that the intent of reverse angle parking is to provide a safer method of parking by having the parked car pull out instead of back out of the spot. Is that really true?
Jim Pruitt, Police Chief for the Town, has stated that there is no evidence that reverse angle parking has decreased traffic accidents related to parking on Mason Avenue.
As Planner Zach noted in his report to the Planning Commission, the Comprehensive Plan specifically states that reverse angle parking should be used in conjunction with complete street design, “however Mason Avenue is not a complete street design (a bike path is not provided between the parking spots and the driving lane). The reason behind the Town providing reverse angled parking was not a response to safety concerns (relative to the then-existing parallel parking), but a response to the desire for more parking located in the downtown area.
The Committee proposes changing the reverse angle parking where it is currently located to front end parking to increase user-friendliness.
The Parking Ad Hoc Committee, after meeting for several months, has made the following recommendations relative to parking in Cape Charles:
1. Replace reverse angle parking with front end parking where reverse angle parking is currently located, and change the angle from a 60-degree angle to a 45-degree angle
2. Add parallel parking stripes on the north side of Mason Avenue between Fig Street and Peach Street
3. Add parallel parking stripes on the north side of Mason Avenue from Harbor Street to Bay Avenue
4. Install better directional signage for the Strawberry Plaza parking lot
5. Add one handicapped parking space each in the zero block and 100 block of Mason Avenue
After the changes, Pond noted in his report that the Town will lose approximately seven to nine parking spaces by changing to 45-degree, pull-in angled parking where there currently exists 60-degree reverse-angle parking.
There are ways to create additional parking spaces. From the staff report:
There are many existing curb cuts between Peach Street and Fig Street that are not currently in use. Staff contacted the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and VDOT suggested the parking striping plan submitted to them should show the existing curb cuts and, if parking is shown blocking the curb cuts, the plan should show how access to the adjacent private properties will be maintained. Based off of this information from VDOT, it seems the Town may be able to provide parallel parking that blocks the curb cuts that are not currently in use. However, Google Map imagery shows the parallel parking that existed in 2014 did not block the curb cuts.
VDOT may have changed their policy since then, or perhaps an effort to show where access would be to adjacent private properties was not provided with the application, but since they had to work around the curb cuts in 2014, which is the most recent parallel parking in the subject area, is worth noting. If the Town provides parallel parking spots that do not cover the curb cuts between Peach Street and Fig Street, the Town would add approximately 38 spaces.
If the Town does cover the curb cuts, the Town would add approximately eight additional parking spaces, which would total 46 parallel parking spaces between Peach Street and Fig Street. The number of parallel parking spaces from Harbor Street to Bay Avenue on the north side would add approximately 18 spaces.