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Back-in parking

Motorists parking their vehicles on Winnebago Street outside the Union Corners development on the East Side must back in to park. Some say the back-in parking pattern improves safety. 

Q: Why is there back-in parking on Winnebago Street at the Union Corners development?

A: Motorists hoping to park in one of the more than 40 spaces on Winnebago Street outside the East Side’s Union Corners development are required to back their vehicles into a parking space, which some say helps increase safety.

Yang Tao, a Madison assistant city traffic engineer, said there’s a belief that back-in parking provides safety benefits to motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists, although he hasn’t seen studies or research to support the position.

“A lot of people believe that,” he said. “To me, it makes sense.”

The back-in parking requirement was requested by the project’s developer, Gorman & Co., Tao said. He said some believe that by backing in to a parking spot, motorists can better see and avoid other vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists when leaving.

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In Janesville, where back-in parking was recently implemented on one street, the city’s public works department said it can also make unloading cargo from the back of vehicles easier.

In addition, back-in parking can help increase parking capacity and protect children because doors open to the sidewalk and not the street.

Tao said there is at least one other area in Madison — on the Far East Side on Sharpsburg Drive between Gemini Drive and North Star Drive just north of Cottage Grove Road —where street parking is back-in only.

At that location on Friday afternoon, nine vehicles occupied 15 available spots. Of those nine, despite several signs pointing out the rule, three were parked the wrong way.

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