AUBURN — It’s been almost a year since back-in, on-street parking was installed along a downtown strip of Genesee Street in Auburn. The goal behind ditching front-angle parking was to cut the risk of accidents on the busy street. Some downtown business owners, though, feel as if they’re paying a toll for the new parking design.
In May of last year, C&S Companies, an engineering firm, informed the Auburn City Council that there had been 53 accidents on Genesee Street from 2011 to 2014. Fourteen of the accidents were directly related to front-angle parking, the firm said during a presentation on the city’s Genesee Street Paving Project.
Since the project received state funding, Auburn had to abide by New York Department of Transportation regulations which prohibit backing out into traffic. This meant the front-angle system had to be replaced.
“I would’ve rather seen parallel parking,” said Susan Waby, owner of Regenerations, a home décor shop on Genesee Street.
Waby believes the back-in parking outside of her store has something to do with a dip in business.
“I get a lot of feedback on it,” she said. “People come in and say, ‘what’s up with this parking?’ It’s affecting business.”
To correctly back in to a parking spot, vehicles must pull ahead of a space, and then back their vehicle in. Waby’s biggest concern is holding up traffic.
Sometimes, she sees drivers pull U-turns into spots, which means they cross the double yellow lines and park on the opposite side of the road.
Mike Sigona, who owns Thirsty Pug Craft Beer Market, located in the Genesee Center, has similar views of back-in parking. He said he’s seen vehicles behind parking cars get impatient and cross into the oncoming lane to get around them.
“We figured that once construction would be over — when it would no longer be a mess downtown — that it would get better. But with the back-in parking, it’s bad.”
Sigona said that his business is down 30% this year.
One alternative to parking on Genesee Street is the city’s parking garage on Lincoln Street, where the first two hours of parking on upper levels are free. For some older people, like Waby’s 88-year-old mother-in-law, parking in the garage, she said, is “easier said than done.”