FREMONT -- If there's one thing Fremont has in abundance, it's parking spaces -- mostly the standard variety found in strip malls.
But last week the city unveiled a new type of space that could become the norm in central Fremont, if drivers don't rebel.
As a pilot program, the city last week striped Capitol Avenue from Paseo Padre Parkway to Liberty Street with diagonal parking spaces that drivers must back into.
The city chose diagonal spaces because they accommodate more cars within a given space than parallel parking does.
As for backing into a diagonal spot, the city says that makes it safer both for motorists who wouldn't have to blindly back out into oncoming traffic and for cyclists who could pedal with the security of knowing that drivers pulling out of the diagonal parking spots can see them.
This style of parking is uncommon nationwide, but is used in parts of San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Ore., city officials say.
Diagonal back-in parking could be a key part of Fremont's long-running plans to redevelop land to the west of its BART station into a high-density urban core with taller buildings, pedestrian amenities and bike lanes.
As Fremont progresses with its "Midtown" district, it will have to supply more on-street parking, said Jill Keimach, Fremont's community development director. Street parking will free developers to provide less parking on their properties, making new construction more
The new type of parking would make it easier for motorists to load and unload their cars and for the disabled to exit their cars, but the key benefit is for cyclists. The city wants in install bike lanes in much of the "Midtown" district -- an area bounded by Paseo Padre Parkway, Walnut Avenue, Fremont Boulevard and Mowry Avenue -- but safety concerns preclude bike lanes on streets where motorists back out of diagonal parking spaces, Keimach said.
The pilot program, which does not yet have an end date, isn't expected to affect traffic on Capitol Avenue while motorists adjust to the change.
If the city's redevelopment plan comes to fruition, Capitol will be lined with retailers and street parking will be at a premium. But, for now, Capitol has lots of off-street parking lots, and very few motorists park on the street.
Those who do choose to test out the parking spaces may call in their comments to the city at 510-494-4780.