The Edmond Sun

April 15, 2014

Dr. Fielding’s variance denied by close vote

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Reverse-angle parking will continue at the 13 N. University Drive office of Dr. Brad Fielding. The Edmond City Council rejected a variance request by the local optometrist to end the city’s pilot project in front of his medical facility.

Councilman Nick Massey and Councilwoman Victoria Caldwell supported Fielding’s variance request that was dismissed in a 3-2 vote.

Four parking lines were striped late last year at Fielding’s business after the city opened new bicycle lanes along University. The city cites the safety for bicyclists and motorists who traditionally depart while backing into traffic as the main reasons for introducing reverse-angle parking.

Two hundred seventy-five of his patients are older than 70 and live with restricted vision that is not compatible with backing up into a a confined parking space, Fielding said.

“The experience in my practice has shown that this reverse-angle parking actually creates adversarial relationships between myself and my clients, patients as well as the city and its citizens,” Fielding said.

When questioned by Councilman Darrell Davis, Fielding said he rents the parking lot behind his office to the University of Central Oklahoma. He and his staff park next to the rear of the building, he said.

Two areas in Edmond require motorists to drive in reverse into a city-owned parking space, said Jan Fees, staff liaison for the Edmond Bicycle Committee. University Apartments is the second location, north of Fielding’s office, with 12 spaces between Ayers and Edwards streets.

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.

Reverse-angle parking is recommended by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (ASHTO) in its Guide for Development for Bicycle Facilities.

These recommendations should be made at the local level, Ed Moore said.

“We’ve got a national ASHTO organization that we’re complying with,” Moore. “I feel like it may have come out of picante sauce. It may have come out of New York City.”

Councilwoman Elizabeth Waner said reverse-angle parking makes for a safer community, but more education is needed about its benefits, she added.

“What a great place to be, in front of the university in this town to do that,” Davis said.

Councilman Nick Massey reversed his support for reverse-angle parking. He said there is equal balance between the two arguments in favor or opposing the reverse-angle parking plan.

“I think when we have a close call on something like this, we need to listen to our citizens,” Massey said.

Caldwell has favored the bicycle plan as a way to solve traffic problems on University Drive. However, she said the city is premature in adding reverse-angle parking to this location.

“It isn’t addressed in the (driver) training, and I feel that point is important,” she said. “The other is I do drive down University a lot and because it is one lane on that area — that does create a bottleneck when somebody is reverse parking.”

Mayor Charles Lamb offered to make a motion to change reverse-angle parking to parallel parking. Fielding said he does not want parallel parking in front of his building and the motion failed. | 341-2121