Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Downtown St. Petersburg's about-face with street parking

ST. PETERSBURG — The words "back-in-head-out parking" should explain it all.

Alas, for a number of confused motorists, they do not.

A new way to park in St. Petersburg — introduced on one downtown block — is said to be safer and easier than traditional diagonal or parallel parking.

But not everyone has caught on to how it works.

Some drivers, probably excited at spotting a precious parking space, zip across oncoming traffic and maneuver their vehicle facing the wrong direction.

That wasn't the case with Oren Woodard early Monday evening. Heading to meet a group to feed the homeless at Williams Park, he deftly reversed into one of the 14 back-in metered spaces that hug the park on its Second Avenue N side, between Fourth Street and Third Street.

Woodard, 40, a cartoon and graffiti artist who has contributed to the city's murals and whose work is on display at the Bloom Art Center on Fifth Avenue N, was surprised to learn that he'd just used a new parking system.

"I didn't know it was back-in parking," he said, adding that it just seemed to make sense to park his car that way as he traveled east on Second Avenue.

But he worries about accidents because it's on a busy road, he said.

"I don't like it," Woodard said. "If there was damage, I'd rather it be the back than the front" of the car.

When the system debuted in February, the city left one of its vehicles in a parking space to demonstrate how to park. For two weeks, wrong-way parkers simply got warnings. Since then, 13 drivers have been ticketed.

"The vast majority are not finding it confusing," said Evan Mory, the city's transportation and parking management director.

Signs explain how to use the new parking spaces, carved out from an area where Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority buses once stopped.

Two signs — if a driver even sees them — say Back-in Only Angle Parking and offer instructions to signal, stop and reverse. There's even a diagram showing how to navigate into the spots near the park's band shell.

Back-in parking is already being used in cities such as Washington, D.C., Tucson, Ariz., New York and Charlotte, N. C. For motorcyclists in St. Petersburg, it's not new. In use for about seven or eight years downtown, back-in motorbike spaces are in areas such as next to Sundial, on Third Street at Central Avenue and Kahwa Coffee at Fifth Avenue N and Second Street.

However, there is no immediate plan to increase the number of back-in spaces for other vehicles, Mory said. When that happens, it will likely be within downtown, he said.

"This emerged as a good opportunity," Mory said of the Williams Park location, which went into effect after PSTA discontinued its bus hub there. "We will continue to look for opportunities. Some places work better than others."

The fact is that exhaust from vehicles will not make back-in parking palatable along sidewalk eateries, though proximity to parks would be ideal, Mory said.

He added that this type of parking makes it easier and safer to exit a space and merge into traffic, while creating a safer environment for pedestrians and bicyclists. Mory added that back-in parking lets vehicle doors block children from the road and makes it easier to guide them toward the curb. And it's also more convenient for unloading trunks.

When told about the reasoning behind the new parking spaces, Woodard gave his consent.

"I guess that makes sense," he said.

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.

Downtown St. Petersburg's about-face with street parking 05/19/16 [Last modified: Thursday, May 19, 2016 11:08am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Editorial: A neighborhood under attack unites


    Three murders in two weeks understandably have Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood on edge. But Tampa police and residents are working together to find the killer and are connecting in ways that will strengthen the community in the long run. This is the best reaction to the tragedy of the three deaths, and it should …

    Seminole Heights residents came together in a candlelight vigil Sunday night to pay respect to the families and to demonstrate that they will not be cowed into staying indoors.
  2. Students at middle school pretend to rape black classmates on Snapchat


    The Snapchat had just about every offensive topic the middle school students could cram into a video clip: race-based simulated sexual assaults, profanity-laced slurs and repulsive language that shocked whoever the intended audience was - and, eventually, many more people.

    Students at a Virginia middle school pretended to rape other students on video, which was shared on Snapchat. Reports say white members of a football team enacted the rape scenes while in the locker room. This photo of a standard locker room is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
  3. Seminole Heights restaurants face struggles amid killings, post-Irma

    Food & Dining

    SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — The neighborhood's hip circle of popular, well-regarded restaurants is feeling the squeeze in the wake of a recent killing spree. And the timing is rough.

    Ella's American Folk Art Cafe. Times files
  4. St. Pete-Clearwater holding food, supply drive for hurricane refugees


    CLEARWATER — St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are holding a food and supply drive for the Hispanic Outreach Center in Pinellas County. The event, which will benefit refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria, will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the airport at 14700 Terminal Blvd.

    St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are hosting a food and supplies drive Tuesday for refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria. | [Times file photo]
  5. A buzz-worthy look at the Astros-Dodgers World Series matchup

    The Heater

    Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel is congratulated by Jose Altuve after scoring during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) TXMG170