Public Comment: Town Needs Enforcement In Back-In Parking Zones

Drivers frequently violate the back-in only rule in the "slanted parking" zones downtown. Photo: Tracy Zafian

The following written public comment was submitted to the Amherst Town Council on October 3, 2021 for their meeting of Monday October, 4, 2021.

I am submitting this comment speaking just for myself and not as a member of the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC).  The TAC has not discussed this topic.

I saw that tomorrow’s Town Council meeting agenda includes an item to consider adding more back-in angled parking spaces along North Pleasant Street downtown.

For the six parking spaces along the street that currently have back-in parking, I often see some vehicles parked front-in instead of back-in.   I have wondered if there is the Town has any enforcement or ticketing regarding vehicles parking back-in.  I emailed the Town’s Parking Department on this question a few months ago and received only a partial answer to my query (see email thread below).  The list of Amherst parking fines which can be accessed through the main town Parking in Amherst webpage  does not show a fine for this.  The list of parking fines is here.  I have contacted the Council previously regarding my concerns about having back-in angled parking on-street in the middle of Amherst’s downtown.  However, a greater concern I have is with drivers who park front-in in the back-in spaces, even with the signs instructing them not to do so and making it clear the spaces are for back-in parking only.  For example, this past Friday, during the middle of the afternoon, I saw a vehicle that had parked front-in in one of the spaces pulling out into traffic (photos attached).  The downtown was busy at that time of day.    When the vehicle backed out into the adjacent travel lane — which is for northbound traffic — the vehicle was facing in the southbound direction.  Fortunately, other drivers stopped to allow the vehicle to go over to the southbound lane.  Still, it did not seem like a safe situation, and it also added to the traffic congestion on a busy afternoon.   My main concern is about safety.

If I may, my suggestion is this:  If the Town does not currently have a policy to allowing issue parking tickets to drivers who continue to park front-in in the back-in spaces, perhaps as a start, gentle reminders on car windshields to not do so could help. Those reminders could then perhaps be followed by traffic tickets if needed, if this is or becomes a ticket-able offense.

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