I was ahead of schedule on a beautiful morning in downtown Austin.  I knew just what to do with the extra bit of time on my hands: stop for breakfast on a patio and soak up the fresh air before working indoors the rest of the day.

I must be living right, I thought to myself as I spied an available parking space in the already bustling Congress Street district.  Humming a tune as bright as the morning had me feeling, I signaled and aimed for my claim.

A sign.  Reserved, perhaps?  I squinted to read it through my sunglasses.  What?  Back In Parking Only?  Insane!  I can’t back in! A gray cloud settled quickly into the driver’s seat with me as I let the car behind me tackle the backward parking shenanigan.

IMG_4113WEB My patio breakfast fantasy undaunted, I began searching for normal parking options.  I’ll just park elsewhere and walk a bit.  I drove a few blocks, backtracked down a side street, hunted some more, and felt impatience creeping in to ruin my otherwise happy spirit.  This back-in parking appeared all the rage in the area.  Cruising Congress Street for the third time, good fortune knocked again.  A car was pulling out directly across the street from the exact patio on which I’d set my sights.

If all these people can do it, surely I can.  With parking spaces at a premium on this busy road, I signaled.  Amazingly, the car behind me stopped to let me park.  My hands began to sweat as the rearview mirror showed four more cars waiting for me, a white-knuckled out-of-towner, trying to back-in park.  And the signal light behind them would turn green any moment making me the cause of a massive morning traffic jam.  Oh, the pressure I felt to get out of the way!

The turn signal sounded like a bomb ticking in my ears.  I felt certain disaster looming as I inched a bit forward positioning for what I hoped would be a clean back-in maneuver without hitting another car.  I shifted to reverse and, putting my arm over the passenger seat, turned to watch my painfully slow backward progress.

Suddenly, it was over.  I was parked.  The car behind me moved on, a brief two-finger wave saluting my achievement, and traffic resumed without incident.  I turned off my car and just sat there, letting the fear-induced adrenaline rush subside, amazed at how uncomplicated, even easy, the whole ordeal had actually been.

With all the angst in Denton over back-in parking planned for Hickory Street, I was giddy with my successful first attempt in over-crowded Austin.  Believe me, I was among those thinking such an ordinance in our city’s busiest entertainment district was going to be a first-degree mess.  But I, who failed parallel parking on my driver’s test way back when, actually did it.  My negative conviction about back-in parking beginning to waiver even before the jello-feeling of fear had diminished enough that I could get out of the car.

In all the Denton preparation for back-in headed our way, the fact that 33 much-needed additional parking spaces would result from the change stumped me.  Front-in or back-in, a parking space is still a parking space, right?  Not really.  I stumbled across quora.com and discovered there is actual science behind the back-in strategy.Quora says it is easier to reverse-park where space is limited because the back wheels are fixed in direction in relation to the car, which makes the pivot point of the car the middle of the rear axle.  The rear wheels don't follow the same path as the front wheels; they will cut a corner. The head-in turning radius may not be small enough to get into a tight space.  But backing in puts the vehicle’s pivot point in a position to easily get into the space.

I’m not a science person, but this makes sense.  Now I get it.  I’m not afraid anymore.  Hickory Street is finished, back-in parking is a reality in Denton, and I whip in like a pro.

After my lovely patio breakfast that morning in Austin, leaving my prime parking spot proved super easy, heading into the traffic throng rather than backing into it, a definite advantage with no terror involved whatsoever.

Of course, driver courtesy is the key that makes it work.  But isn’t that always the case, regardless?  Hey, if Austin can make this work, I know Denton can.  Back in, and celebrate the bright side.  We have more parking!