A Suggestion for Denver Parking Enforcement: Focus on Bike Lanes

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Denver’s bike lanes are regularly obstructed by illegal parking that is rarely enforced. Images via the #StreetFail hashtag on Twitter

CBS4 News reported last night that Denver Public Works cancelled 2,400 parking tickets between November 2015 and May 2016, mostly because of “officer error.”

You have to expect some human error in any system, and it looks like these mistakes (which were eventually corrected) amounted to less than one percent of parking violations issued in the city. When TV news crews need a story, though, they can always turn to aggrieved motorists.

But for any parking enforcement agents that really do find themselves in search of legitimate violations, here’s a suggestion: Check out the bike lanes. Denver drivers consistently park in bike lanes, every single day, usually with impunity.

Parking in bike lanes is a serious offense that endangers people on bikes by forcing them to swerve into traffic. But Right of Way Enforcement and Denver PD typically take a reactionary approach to drivers parking in bike lanes, meaning agents usually issue a ticket only if someone alerts them. It’s not an effective way to send the message that no one should parking in bike lanes.

  • garbanzito

    i have heard city officials discussing need for an ordinance because right of way enforcement officers aren’t empowered to write tickets for blocking “through lanes” — can anyone confirm this?

  • Walter Crunch

    Given it seems most cops and therefor the parking inspectors hate bike lanes. …..welll..

  • TakeFive

    First thing: I do appreciate and take advantage of all the links.

    I can see the challenges of retrofitting bike lanes onto streets that have functioned for years and decades without them. Since virtually everything downtown is some type of business, commercial traffic/vehicles need the ability to do their jobs and businesses need them to have that ability. This should be the highest priority. Therefor the city needs to decide where they should be allowed to stop/park short term for deliveries etc.

    • MT

      Many of the people that work at those businesses ride bikes to work. They should be able to get there safely. Safety should be the highest priority.

      The solution to this problem has to be in the design of the lanes though. Separating them with a curb would make parking in the bike lane similar to parking on a sidewalk, which most people wouldn’t do.
      There is plenty of street space left for short term parking, deliveries, etc. without blocking bike lanes.

      • TakeFive

        Of course safety is important but a lot of that falls to the users.

        I personally don’t care whether commercial vehicles park on the sidewalk, the grass or diagonally in the middle of the street. But without guidance you’ll get what you’ve got. If the city wants them to park in a thru lane then they should make that a policy and publicize it.

        • MT

          People will drive and park anywhere that they are not physically prevented from doing so.
          Better street design is really the only thing that can make drivers behave in any kind of safe manner. I don’t trust anyone in a car with my safety, that’s why protected bike lanes are so important.

          • TakeFive

            Would you know why the city has not or isn’t doing “protected” lanes? Actually they are on South Broadway so is that their eventual intent?.

          • MT

            I think they have plans to start using parking stops as a kind of curb along future protected bike lanes. The plastic sticks they are using now don’t work very well, though they are better than nothing.

  • Dan

    Another suggestion, – to be fair; focus on bikers riding where they’re not supposed to be too.

    Just an observation.

    • MT

      Unless you are referring to a sidewalk or freeway, bikes are allowed everywhere.

      • Dan

        Thanks for clearing that up.

      • David

        At least here in Fort Collins, biking on a sidewalk isn’t actually illegal, just discouraged. And some freeways allow biking!

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