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Why reverse parking is illegal for some stalls, but encouraged in others

There’s been strong reaction following our exclusive report on a law that makes it illegal to back a

vehicle into certain parking stalls.

Now we’ve learned there’s even more confusion in another area where drivers are encouraged to back into stalls.

Ulune Street near Aiea High School has diagonal stalls. There are signs telling people to reverse into the parking spaces.

But there’s also a county law that makes it illegal to reverse into diagonal stalls at municipal lots.

The main difference between the two parking areas is that in Aiea, the parking stalls do not have meters, so the city says the law does not apply there.

But it still raises the question of which is actually safer?

We first heard about drivers getting tickets and getting fined $35 for backing into a stall at a municipal lot in Kailua. HPD told us reversing means going against the flow of traffic which is a safety issue.

A spokeswoman added that, “By backing out of a stall, pedestrians and motorists have the added safety advantage of seeing the vehicle’s brake lights and reverse lights.”

Some drivers still aren’t convinced that it should be illegal.

“I don’t really understand it. I don’t know what it helps or what it prevents, so I don’t see a benefit for that,” said motorist Greg Davis.

The city installed diagonal stalls along Ulune Street, and signs encourage drivers to reverse into them.

When we asked the city about it, a spokesman said there are no meters, so the law does not apply. But why is it safe to reverse in Aiea and not safe in Kailua?

“To me, it felt a little bit odd coming in here, just a little bit unnerving,” said driving instructor Steven Wong.

Wong said he understands why the law exists for metered stalls, although it did surprise him.

But in Aiea, “in my determination, my feeling just backing here, I didn’t feel safer backing into this. Maybe now when I’m leaving, of course it’s definitely going to be easier,” Wong said.

Backing into the stall means you do wind up slowing down the traffic, so Wong said in that sense, the configuration makes the road safer.

When the city unveiled Ulune Street with the reverse parking, it also included narrower roads as another safety measure, and there were plans to install more reverse parking stalls in other areas later this year.

A spokesman said while the Ulune Street project is working well, the city has no plans for more reverse parking projects at this time.

KHON2 also asked the state if the law applies to state-owned parking lots, and was told there aren’t any laws that prohibit backing into state-managed stalls.

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