Angled parking slims down obese streets

The Restless Urbanist wrote about the benefits of head-out angled parking and the considerations in implementing this parking tactic. It’s worth a read as we have many streets in our downtown which could benefit from angled parking, of which head-out has a number of benefits over head-in, especially for bicycling routes.

Great video on head-out angled parking from Dan Burden

In downtown West Palm Beach, we have many east-west streets that suffer from what I would call ‘street obesity’. These are streets that are unhealthy for retail because they place people in close proximity to cars moving 30+ miles per hour, racing from one light to the next. Evernia Street and Fern Street are examples – they have curb to curb widths sometimes approaching 60 feet. This is an unhealthy amount of pavement that hinders the flourishing of the indicator species of success: People walking, people using public space.  Angled parking is the only way to narrow some of our downtown urban streets sufficiently (10 feet or less for urban streets) in order to slow cars and promote walking, because the huge curb to curb width means that parallel parking will not narrow the driving lanes sufficiently. Narrower driving lanes mean slower speeds and safer people.

Angled parking can serve two major functions for our obese downtown streets. 1. Most obvious, it provides a greater parking yield than conventional parallel spaces. Drivers also find it easier to park in angled parking versus parallel spaces. 2. Angled parking narrows the driving way, slowing the cars, and putting a huge steel barrier between pedestrians in the sidewalk and automobiles.  As Steve Mouzon posted yesterday, sidewalk cafes are one of the best causes and effects of walkability, and they can only be successful on streets with vehicular traffic if patrons feel completely comfortable sitting while cars are moving a short distance from them. Let’s remember that everyone is a pedestrian at some point downtown, even if they arrive by car.

Angled parking isn’t appropriate for every street, but for those fat streets that needs to lose a few pounds in lane width, it can be an invaluable tool.

Of the two types of angled parking (head in or head out), head out has some real advantages that may seem counterintuitive at first, but are worth serious consideration by the City, especially on those streets where we expect and welcome significant bicycle traffic.


Don’t miss a post! Subscribe to the Walkable West Palm Beach email list at top right of the page



    • I saw them resurfacing it. I spoke with the City engineers – Speck had proposed angled parking on both sides of the block, but our engineers said it wasn’t possible due to driveway complications. That’s too bad. It will remain a fat street.

  1. Gregg Weiss

    Fern is difficult, when I ride down the east side with the head-in angled cars and I know they may not se me. Backed-in parking would be safe for bikes. I do appreciate the extra space on Fern so I can move as far from the cars parked and stay out of the way of cars I share the road with. I have not yet felt that cars were driving too fast on Fern but I only use it twice a day so it’s only anecdotal. My real concern is Quadrille, the right lane is not wide enough for a bike and a car to safely share it. I currently ride on the sidewalk which is not the best solution but it is the safest for now.

    • I agree Gregg. I avoid sharing a lane on Quadrille as I think it’s far too dangerous. Car speeds are high and there is a high volume of traffic. Sometimes I will ride my bike on the sidewalk on either side. Generally, I prefer Rosemary or the Flagler waterfront path as they are more comfortable for bicyclists.

      We need better bike facilities downtown, especially east-west. I was very disappointed that the City is implementing a compromised street plan for Fern Street. Jeff Speck called for a protected bicycle path – positioned between parallel parking and the curb. This would have made a truly great facility. There are complications for one block where the CityPlace publix has bulb outs, so that one block would have had to remain as is with sharrows. I think that would be been ok, though, especially if we could have designed a protected bike lane for the rest of the segment (all the way from Tamarind to Flagler). Much preferable to a buffer bike lane, if we want to be serious about creating a world class bike facility.

      If you click on the tags to the right of the page, you can see past writings on Fern Street and some of our out of the box proposals on Walkable WPB.

  2. Baron Haussmann

    One idea worth resurrecting is to make Datura one way with a two way cycle track and head out angled parking. This would provide a better connection to the Trirail station and could be implemented in a tactical low cost fashion.

    Not all one-way streets are evil. If you gain parking and a cycle track then it is probably a fair trade.

    If successful then you could add a pedestrian only rail crossing at the FEC and bike / ped signal at Tamarind.

    The one way Datura with a two way cycle track concept was discussed in the Fern post:

    A concept like this is in keeping with the Dutch cycling design. Maybe our Mayor will be inspired by her trip to Copenhagen and implement this project.

    • Hi Myrna. If you aren’t competent at backing into a parking space, then you aren’t competent at parallel parking. Backing into a parking space is only the first maneuver of parallel parking.

      Parallel parking is a basic driving skill everyone needs to be able to do. Back-in parking is easier than parallel parking.

  3. Pingback: “Trollgate” a reminder of bold actions taken to remake city | Walkable West Palm Beach

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *