Back-In Parking

The city of Twin Falls has set up an area where people can try back-in parking on Main Avenue South near Hansen Street in Twin Falls on Wednesday, May 13, 2015.

STEPHEN REISS, TIMES-NEWS

Back-in parking may not be the greatest idea since sliced bread, but you won’t know until you’ve had a bite.

Planners are proposing back-in parking along Main Avenue as part of the downtown street’s overhaul. So far, it’s been the most controversial element of the plan.

The project marks the biggest downtown streetscaping effort by the city in decades, and people are freaking out. Over painted lines. On one street downtown.

One resident was quoted in a story last week saying, without any hint of exaggeration: “This is the stupidest thing I ever saw.”

To their credit, the city of Twin Falls and the Urban Renewal Agency have striped a practice area for folks to try out the new parking scheme, and they’re asking for your feedback in an online poll. (Weigh in at tfid.org) Your input will play a role in determining the parking scheme planners ultimately choose later this year.

In the meantime, the issue is proving to be as divisive as the Ford versus Chevy debate.

Proponents say back-in parking is safer because it lets drivers pull forward into traffic instead of backing blindly. Backing into traffic is especially dangerous – ever try to maneuver around an extended-cab pickup into oncoming traffic? It can be a white-knuckle experience.

Back-in parking would also allow for wider sidewalks and safer bike lanes. And it lets you load up your car from the curb, not the street. Since doors open to the curb in back-in parking, it’s also safer to load and unload youngsters.

The common argument against back-in parking seems to be that it’s more difficult to back into a space. We won’t argue with that. But, frankly, if you can’t back a car into a fixed space, you probably have no business driving. If you struggle to back a car, we’d hate to see your driving on high-speed highways.

Ultimately, the jury is still out on whether back-in parking is right for Twin Falls. But as we debate, let’s keep an open mind.

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Just because you’ve parked your car one way your whole life doesn’t mean there’s not a better way now. Yes, color TV, smartphones and the Internet were all new and a bit unsettling when they first came out. But imagine our world without them.

We doubt parking your car will change your life as much as a smartphone, but the analogy is apt. If we’re not willing to try new things, we may be missing opportunities to improve.

Trying back-in parking is pretty low risk. We’re talking paint. If the plan doesn’t turn out to be a good fit for Twin Falls, we can always restripe the lines later.

Why not give it a try? Who knows, it may just turn out to be better than sliced bread.

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