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?

Lucas Rogers March 21, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Lucille, your point that visitor permits should be usable more than twice a week is a good one. I don't think it's fair that there are such stringent restrictions on their use, both for guests, as well as residents who don't own a car but occasionally rent one, or get a zipcar. I read that the city has set up an advisory committee to look into this issue. As for the back-in diagonal parking, I think it's a great idea both for drivers and bicyclists: more parking for people doing business in Union Square, and a way to set up bike lanes without the fear of "dooring."
kevin thomas crowley March 22, 2012 at 12:09 PM
the new parking scheme is worth trying out. i too believe the present parking enforcement is hostile to our citzens and vistors. like it or not, we need a pubic parking garage in davis and union squares. speaking of union square, there was a promise made to return the Viet Nam Memorial to the square after the completion of the rebuilding of somerville avenue. i wish someone would keep that promise.
mark March 22, 2012 at 02:52 PM
This is really great! A win for everyone.
Courtney Snyder March 24, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Especially reducing traffic on Bow street to one lane-maybe then willwe stop feeling like we are in the middle of the Indy 500; now if we could just ban trucks from Bow.
Rob Buchanan March 25, 2012 at 01:01 PM
I think this new plan is great! More parking, more bike lane space, and reduced auto speeds. I'd like to see a crosswalk put in on Bow Street at the intersection with Walnut St. People cross there all the time--with or without a crosswalk. It would make it much safer. It's important not to forget pedestrian needs when these kinds of projects are done.
Lucille Kenney December 18, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Yes Lucas, you're right ... dooring is very scary ... not everyone checks for bicyclists when they open their doors ... it's a good solution. I'm just frustrated with the permit parking limitations.
Casey March 15, 2013 at 10:35 PM
Is overnight parking allowed in the metered spots for non-residents?
Sand Man March 15, 2013 at 11:37 PM
Damn straight! There needs to be a crosswalk on Bow St. at Walnut!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »