By Cathleen Twardzik
The Somerville Traffic and Parking department invited residents to attend a recent community open house to discuss an innovative pilot program called Head-Out Angled Parking. The meeting was held at Properzi Manor in Union Square.
Reverse angle parking is a scheduled initiative for spring, and will be implemented on May 15, according to Matthew Dias, Acting Director of the Traffic and Parking .
At the Head-Out Angled Parking meeting, the discussion mainly focused on how Union Square, specifically, Bow Street, will enjoy improved safety for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
The new parking program will increase the total number of parking spaces for visitors by 90 percent, so at least 11 more parking spaces will be created.
Head-out parking would also benefit Bow Street because it is easier than parallel parking – only one maneuver is required – and spots are at an easily navigable 45 degrees. Therefore, fewer accidents will occur, and drivers will have an unobstructed view of oncoming traffic and bikes.
The program, which is expected to benefit businesses, will encourage cycling because complimentary bike corrals will provide convenient, on-street parking for cyclists, and sidewalk space will be maintained. New bike lanes will connect to the ones on Somerville Avenue.
This proposed parking concept will improve handicapped parking because spaces may be placed adjacent to curb ramps, and it will become safer for loading and unloading children and cargo since all of the sides of vehicles will be shielded.
“Prior to official implementation, the project/communication plan [will include] variable message boards which will be posted, beginning next week, at the curbside, [as well as] new line striping and traffic signage, new parking meter locations, parking ambassadors, Parking Control Officers stationed in the pilot area to assist with parking and questions, and dedicated police details for the first several days of implementation,” said Dias.
This pilot program would be the first real installment of HOA Parking in Massachusetts, while it is already employed nationwide from Syracuse, NY to Washington, DC to Seattle, WA, and other locations.
Dias believes that the pilot program is a good idea. “Empirical evidence from professional traffic engineering journals and parking and transportation industry experts suggest this new parking configuration is a credible traffic calming measure. Union Square and Bow Street, like many of our business districts, suffer from high volumes of vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic.”
One business owner, Albert Capone, Owner of Capone Foods Somerville, located at 14 Bow St. offered his opinion about the Head-Out Angled parking pilot program saying, “I haven’t seen it yet, so I can’t tell. But I imagine there’s going to be some problems.”
According to Dias, “If the pilot program is successful and accepted by the community, other areas of the city would, of course, be reviewed for possible implementation.” Interested individuals may find additional information at www.parksomerville.com, by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 311. A brochure may be found on the city’s website at http://www.somervillema.gov/ReverseAngleParking, as well.