Back-in Parking

The city is ending its experiment with back-in parking on Milwaukee Street in downtown Janesville after getting negative feedback.

JANESVILLE

People who tried Janesville’s back-in angled parking largely opposed the idea, and other people weren’t willing to give it a try, according to survey results shared by the city.

Janesville’s experiment with back-in angled parking will end next week after fewer than two months of experimentation. City Manager Mark Freitag made that announcement at Monday’s city council meeting, citing concerns from local business owners and overwhelmingly negative feedback from drivers.

In May, the city created 11 back-in parking spaces on West Milwaukee Street between Jackson and Franklin streets. It also opened an online survey for people to share their thoughts about backing into street parking spaces rather than the traditional head-in method.

The survey asked respondents whether they tried back-in angle parking and whether they supported the idea. It also included a field for comments.

Of the 82 responses, the two most common answer combinations came from 35 people who tried the parking and opposed the idea, and another 18 people who did not try it but still disliked the concept, according to the survey results.

Overall, 18 people supported back-in angled parking and 64 people did not.

“Great! Another reason not to visit downtown,” reads one response.

“I am the world’s worst backer-upper,” reads another.

Others said the maneuver was difficult, unsafe and hindered traffic flow.

The handful of comments that favor the idea say exiting a parking space after backing in is safer and easier.

Ahna Bizjak, a senior engineer with the city, said staff did not carefully monitor how often the spaces were used. Her observations showed they were usually less occupied than other areas of West Milwaukee Street.

Having the data would have helped, but any downtown parking stats are now skewed by River Street roadwork and hotel construction on a former surface lot next to the river, she said.

Bizjak said she preferred back-in parking but didn’t have a strong opinion on the city’s parking reversal.

While survey feedback was negative, the most persuasive argument for ending the experiment came from the Milwaukee Street businesses worried they had lost foot traffic, she said.

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