Ryan J. Tenges
About the research
On-street parking has been considered problematic by engineers for many years. In fact, numerous studies have concluded that diagonal or angle parking in particular is potentially more of a safety concern than parallel or no parking at all. It is a common position of many states, including Iowa, to discourage or completely prohibit angle parking on primary road extensions in urban areas. However, with the acceptance of “context sensitive design” and traffic calming techniques, policies for on-street parking are receiving re -consideration in many agencies including the FHWA.
This study was undertaken to analyze operational and safety histories in the state of Iowa where various types of on-street parking have existed for many years, concentrating in particular on smaller communities. Specifically of interest was a comparison of diagonal parking locations to other types with regard to related crash histories. If possible, it was intended to develop guidelines to assist Iowa Department of Transportation designers in the consideration of parking requirements for road improvements through small communities. In this regard, several criteria were analyzed to determine possible contribution to crash history including road width, clearance to parked vehicles, traffic volumes, community population, and length of parking area. None of these factors, with the possible exception of population, displayed a clearly definable relationship to crash history. However, when average crash rates for various parking types were compared for non-intersection crashes, differences in rates between areas with diagonal parking and those with parallel parking were almost negligible. In fact, those observed rates were less than sample locations with no parking at all.
These results seem to indicate that indeed there may exist no compelling justification for blanket prohibition of angle parking along Iowa’s primary extensions in all urban areas. Rather, a case-by-case investigation with each project design of the most applicable parking type would seem appropriate in smaller communities.