City Council debates whether to keep new style of parking spaces
May 23, 2016
Steamboat Springs — The city of Steamboat Springs’ great reverse-angle parking experiment will continue despite some concerns from the city’s elected officials.
During a lengthy discussion about downtown parking last week, the City Council was briefed on plans to add additional reverse angle spaces on Yampa Street.
But several members questioned whether the spaces the city has already installed have increased safety of the street. Some even suggested they have given cyclists a false sense of security.
Councilman Scott Ford feared that if compliance in the new types of spaces does not start to increase, the city could even add to the pedestrian and biker safety problems on Yampa instead of helping them.
The back-in spaces are meant to increase safety by allowing drivers to see the road and the bike lane when they are pulling out.
Many drivers are ignoring signage and simply pulling front first into the spaces.
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Ford noted more than half of Steamboat’s visitors are arriving to the city for the first time, and many won’t be familiar with the new concept of reverse-angle parking.
“You get toward Seventh Street, and it gets funny to watch,” Ford said.
According to data compiled by a city intern, only 54 percent of cars were recently parked correctly in the new reverse-angle spaces on Yampa between Sixth and Seventh streets. Compliance is 80 percent and above at the spaces further down Yampa near 10th Street.
City officials speculate that the compliance increases in these spaces, because they are used more often by locals.
After a lengthy discussion about the spaces, the council voted 5-2 to accept a city staff recommendation to keep the new style of parking spaces and add additional ones near the old Yampa Valley Electric Association building that is being redeveloped.
Councilwoman Robin Crossan said the new style of parking was worth a shot.
City staff will monitor compliance at the spaces and report back to council if an issue arises.
Some council members suggested they would be open to someday having officers issue tickets to people who park incorrectly in the spaces.
Ford questioned whether any education or compliance efforts will be successful, because so many of the people who use the spaces will be tourists.
“Let’s not fool ourselves about this enforcement education,” he said. “We are not going to get a high degree of compliance.”
Ford has previously said the city’s efforts to introduce reverse-angle spaces was the equivalent of “trying to retrain humanity.”
The city introduced reverse-angle spaces to Steamboat in 2013 to increase pedestrian and biker safety on the street.
The news spaces also allowed the city to increase its parking inventory and fit bike lanes into the street.
Ford and Councilwoman Kathi Meyer voted against expanding the reverse-angle parking experiment.
And while other council members approved it, many still had reservations.
“I can’t believe I’m going to be supporting this,” Councilman Jason Lacy said. “I see this every day (from my office on Yampa), and I am totally appalled by the lack of compliance that occurs.”
Lacy said he was supporting staff’s recommendations mainly because it wouldn’t be hard for the city to reverse course and paint new lines if the experiment is unsuccessful.