EDMOND — EDITOR'S NOTE: Pamela Richman's name was incorrectly cited in the original version of this story. Below is corrected copy reflecting her correct last name. The Edmond Sun regrets the error and any inconvenience to readers.
The City of Edmond may need to step up its method of educating motorists who should be parking in a reverse angle in front of Dr. Brad Fielding's optometry office at 13 N. University Drive, said Nick Massey, city councilman. Massey has talked to a few people who are unhappy about the Bicycle Master Plan’s reverse angle parking the city implemented at Fielding’s office, he said. He thought the reverse parking plan was a dumb idea when he first learned about it.
“I have since become convinced that given the circumstances where using it — that it’s in areas where we have some bike lanes — that it makes some sense,” Massey said.
The Bicycle Master Plan was adopted 5-0 by the City Council in November 2012. The plan identifies short- and long-term bicycle facility improvements for the City of Edmond in order to create a more bicycle-friendly community.
In 2011 the City Council allocated $146,000 from the Edmond Trails fund to fund the Bicycle Master Plan. Traffic Engineering Consultants was hired by the city to recommend ways to redesign University and makes suggestions about the bike lanes.
The Guide for Development for Bicycle Facilities is the American standard for implementing bike lanes, said Jan Ramseyer Fees, city planner for Edmond’s Urban District. The guide calls for either parallel or reverse angle parking when putting in bike lanes, she said.
Bike lanes on University from Second Street to Chowning were the first projects developed beginning in 2013, according to the Planning Department. This segment of University changed from four lanes to three lanes with a center turn lane and bike lanes on the outside.
Only two areas in Edmond require motorists to drive in reverse into a city-owned parking space, Fees said. University Apartments is the second location, north of Fielding’s office, with 12 spaces between Ayers and Edwards streets.
“Nobody is giving tickets yet at this point and I think the city has a whole lot more work to do in terms of educating the public and putting up signage to understand what’s going on there,” Massey said.
During a drive by this week, motorists had parked the traditional way in front of Fielding’s office.
“You have to learn a little bit of how to back into it,” Massey said. “But once you’re there at the right direction, you can see better coming out. It’s safer coming out.”
Pamela Richman said she was confused three weeks ago when parking at Fielding’s office to go in for an eye examination.
“I turned into Dr. Fielding’s office and thought, ‘This is weird. The lanes are in the other direction,’” said Richman, who teaches at the University of Central Oklahoma.
“So I pulled in and, after I pulled in, I saw a little sign that said to reverse park into the spot,” Richman said. Parking there in reverse requires people to know about it in advance, she said.
“So I walked into my appointment and said, ‘How’s the new parking working out?’ Everybody groaned,” Richman said.
After she left her appointment she decided to try parking in reverse there. Richardson backed up onto University, far enough away from oncoming traffic, she said. Richman saw two or three other spots where motorists can park the usual way.
“I pulled up to back in. You should have seen the look on the person behind me when they had to go around me,” she said. “… The person behind me had no clue I was going to do that because there is no signage.”
Signage alerting motorists to rear angle parking is on the southern edge of the parking strip. There should at least be another sign north of the property to caution people they are approaching a reverse parking area, she said.
People who go to an eye doctor have vision problems, are often older, and have a more difficult time backing up into the spot. The print on the sign is too small for people to read unless they get out of their car beside it, Richman said.
So Fielding’s office is not the logical spot for reverse parking, she said. People are expected to first notice, then read a reverse parking sign that is placed beyond their approach to the property, she said.
“It seems like such a strange thing to do because it doesn’t make it any better,” Richman said. “It definitely makes it a little bit more dangerous.”
Fees said the city notified Fielding last spring before the parking change happened. Fielding tried to appeal the reverse angle parking item in February before the Public Works Committee. His variance request was denied 2-1.
“Now he wants to move that request before the City Council on March 24,” Fees said.
Fielding did not return a phone call and requests at his office for comment for this story.