Our View: Back-in parking plan a good step
July 6, 2013
We're intrigued with the city of Steamboat Springs' plan to try to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety on Yampa Street. City staff has proposed creating an area where motorists will be asked to back into diagonal parking spaces rather than pulling forward. The plan would add 21 new spaces to downtown parking inventory simply by replacing inefficient parallel parking spaces with diagonal spaces.
The back-in parking plan comes forward at a time when more people are enjoying the growing restaurant district along the Yampa River. Business advocates in the area are looking at ways to fund a new pedestrian walkway where cyclists, people on foot and cars mix in a high-demand area lacking permanent sidewalks.
Already the city has lowered the speed limit on Yampa Street to 15 miles per hour. The new parking proposal is intended to give drivers a better view of approaching pedestrians and cyclists before pulling out of a parking spot.
Pulling into one of the new parking spaces would be similar to parallel parking, only easier. Motorists would pull slowly beyond their intended parking space, signal a right turn and back into their spot.
Steamboat Today reader John St. Pierre commented this week that the town of Frisco in Summit County has utilized this system for several decades. And the back-in parking system already works efficiently in larger cities like Columbia, Mo., and Austin, Texas.
Public Works Director Chuck Anderson told the Steamboat Springs City Council that public education will be a challenge and we agree. We fully expect that some drivers encountering the new parking spaces will pull in front-bumper-first. But it won't be long before everyone catches on. We successfully implemented traffic roundabouts, didn't we?
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Long-term, we believe the city should be open to testing several plans that could improve downtown parking, including parking meters and promotion of remote parking such as the Steamboat Springs Transit Center and Howelsen Hill.
A parking plan that promotes safety, encourages frequent turnover of spaces and makes it easy for people to choose alternative transportation is critical to the vibrancy of downtown Steamboat Springs. We think the back-in parking plan on Yampa Street is a good step and we look forward to similar initiatives in the future.