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Back-in parking coming soon to St. Petersburg

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

In about a month downtown St. Petersburg will have about 30 new parking spaces. Some of them will be a little different than what people are used to in the area.

Instead of carefully maneuvering into parallel parking spots or easily gliding into angled spaces, motorists will back into the newly planned reverse-angle parking.

Now when motorists are lucky enough to find a spot along Central Avenue, they park in an angled spot going in the same direction as their car. The front of the car goes in first.

The new spots will face against the flow of traffic, meaning motorists must drive past the spot and then back into it.

It seems like a bit of a nightmare at first. What about cars behind the motorist trying to park? But St. Pete’s director of parking and transportation, Evan Mory, said it’s actually a bit easier, even better and safer.

“It’s definitely positive for people riding bikes in the street,” Mory said. “When they are leaving they can see the oncoming traffic. That biker can make eye contact with the driver.”

Consider the current parking situation in places where there are angled spaces, such as Central Avenue and Beach Drive. Many times the parked cars block each other’s vision of oncoming traffic. Motorists are forced to back out of their spots slowly on an hope and a prayer that any cars coming toward them won’t careen into their backside.

Mory pointed out a few other reasons to rejoice, not gripe. First, motorists will have an easier time loading and unloading their trunk. It also puts that person in a safer situation when they’re rooting through the trunk or back of a truck from the curb or sidewalk, not the middle of the road.

When children get out of the car, the doors will shield them from traffic rather than making them step out of the car toward oncoming traffic.

“It takes a little bit of getting used to,” Mory acknowledged.

He’s looked at models from other cities, though, that show these types of parking spaces do work.

The new spots will be located on Second Avenue North adjacent to Williams Park. Space is being freed up for new parking now that bus stops are being diverted away from the park.

Mory said the city can put in double the amount of parking spaces if the spots are angled rather than parallel parking.

Plus it’s easier to park. Mory reminds motorists that backing into an angled space is the first part of parallel parking, but it also eliminates the need for the back and forth.

The new spots are expected to be available in mid- to late February after the bus stops are removed on Valentine’s Day.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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