Reverse angle parking coming to Court Street

Apr. 21—WATERTOWN — Don't fret. It's as easy as 1-2-3.

That's the message from the city's Planning Department on how to park a vehicle using reverse angle parking on Court Street when the city's $3.6 million streetscape project is completed in a few months.

It might initially sound like it'll be difficult to do, but city officials stress it's actually safer for motorists to park their vehicle that way.

"Change is difficult for people, but once it goes on line, I think people will get used to it," city planner Jeffrey T. Urda said. "It's safer."

He spoke at a recent Advantage Watertown meeting about the virtues of using reverse angle parking.

It cuts down on the risk of accidents and is safer for motorists after they get out of their vehicle, he said.

Of the 47 parking spots that will end up on Court Street after the construction is done, 42 will be reversed angle parking and five parallel spaces, Mr. Urda said. They had been traditional front angle parking spots.

The reverse angle parking has been a controversial component of the streetscape project.

Some residents have expressed concern about the new way of parking, mostly because they are not familiar with it.

The reverse angle on Court Street is a pilot program. At this point, the city is incorporating the parking method only on the downtown road improvements on Court Street and nowhere else.

"We're not doing it in all of downtown, just Court Street to see how it works," Mr. Urda said.

Mr. Urda mentioned that the city of Auburn went to reverse angle parking in its downtown a few years ago and it's "a good example" how it works.

To let people learn about it, the city of Auburn promoted reverse angle parking before it went into effect with a public relations campaign.

Watertown plans an educational campaign to get the word out before the street improvements are finished but haven't finalized it yet, Mr. Urda said.

Jason White, a member of the Advantage Watertown group of community and business members, said he's used the reverse angle parking in Auburn and found it to be a simple way to park.

He and a buddy are going down to Auburn in May to visit the Seward House Museum — the home of William Seward, President Abraham Lincoln's secretary of state — and will park his vehicle using reverse angle parking once again.

He might even take a video of the procedure that the city can use to show how it's done.

"Anything I can do to help the city," he said.

Reverse angle parking is like parallel parking, only easier because you are only making one turning movement when backing up, instead of two, Mr. Urda explained. Here are some simple instructions how it's done:

There are three steps to reverse angle parking: Signal, stop, reverse.

Signal: Turn on your right turn signal before you finish driving past the space you wish to park in, as you would if you were backing into a parallel parking space.

Stop: Bring your car to a complete stop just past the parking space.

Reverse: Shift gears into reverse and back into the space. Do not rely solely on your backup camera. Use your mirrors to verify your track.

Then when you leave the space, you can put the car in drive and merge with traffic.

Mr. Urda also pointed out that's it's also safer when motorists are retrieving an item out of their trunk. Motorists will no longer be in back of their vehicle near traffic, he said.

They will now be near a sidewalk and away from other vehicles passing by, he said.

The streetscape improvements are occurring on Court Street, the 200 blocks of Coffeen and Franklin streets, and the area on Washington Street that surrounds the Gov. Roswell P. Flower Monument.

They include widening sidewalks, enhancing crosswalks, improving lighting and planting new trees.