Within the town hall that is my Facebook newsfeed, I recently raised an issue that has been bugging the shit out of me — parking, and Denver's increasingly frustrating lack of skills in this arena. As Denver gains hundreds of thousands of new residents with this latest boom, the ability to park a car in a reasonable manner has become less and less of a value. The feedback I received on this topic from my constituents was eye opening, as it seems parking rules and courtesies can be state-specific (who knew the difference between an East Coaster and West Coaster could come down to how they position an automobile between two other automobiles?)
Instead of writing a letter to everyone who can't seem to to park properly, though, I thought I'd take a proactive approach. Using information I've culled from that very Facebook thread and a few tips from the City of Denver's website, I've compiled a short list of ways to not be a jerk when parking in Denver. It's easy, I swear!
5. Park with no more than two to three feet between cars when parallel parking
The gripe that started it all — the lack of respect for your fellow residents when parallel parking. Here's the deal: In densely populated areas of Denver, there is not a lot of on-street parking available. (Even after the city opened up street parking on both sides of 13th Avenue, Capitol Hill still sucks for parking.) Denver's parking code states that there must be at least two feet between your bumper and the next guy's. But here's the kicker — if you leave much more than that, you're a jerk. Why? Because parking is at a premium these days and if everyone parallel parking decides to leave six feet between their car and the next, full parking spaces are wasted. In short, do not leave more than three feet between you and the car in front or behind you.
I know. We're all concerned about getting boxed in when we parallel park, which is the worst. But it's about mutual respect between residents. If we all work to leave just enough room between our cars when we park, more of us can actually fit in. If you've ever spent 45 minutes on a weekday evening circling the mess of one-ways and blind intersections of Cap Hill looking for a spot, you know how it feels when you come across a series of cars with half a car-length between each.
4. Pull up to the parking sign or park with your the rear of your car right at the sign
Where you can and cannot park on streets is delegated by many markers — street signs, fire hydrants, driveways that let out directly onto the street, etc. But something I see happening all the time is drivers not using these markers appropriately. In areas of Denver where there aren't meters, it's important to make sure your bumper is in line with the sign at the edge of a street parking spot. If you're the first car at the top or the end of a block, the will be a sign with an arrow pointing out where parking begins or ends. Pull up to that sign.
Why leave two or three feet between your car and that sign (see above)? It's not like a garden gnome is going to get into his tiny car and try to cram into the remaining parking space. By not bringing your bumper directly up to that sign, you are wasting valuable parking space. As developers continue to knock down single-family homes and replace them with multiple-unit monstrosities, parking congestion is only set to get worse, which makes using all available space wisely imperative.
3. Know Which Way You're Supposed to Park at Each Kind of Parking Meter
This one is confusing, I know. The position of a parking meter on a street determines how you're supposed to park at it. If there is a series of evenly spaced meters along a street, you are to park behind the meter (with your bumper at, but not in front of the meter.) The meter you feed you should be in front of your car.
Then there are the meters that sit side by side (see the image to the right) — you'll see sets of meters these along a strip. That means one car parks in front of the meter with their back bumper just in front of the meter. The other meter is for parking behind, with the front bumper at or behind the meter. Do not park with several feet between your car and two sets of meters. This means you are taking up two spaces — and therefore are a parking jerk.
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2. Know the size of your car
Whether you're driving a monster truck, a Smart car or a motorcycle, the parking experience others have with your mode of transportation is up to you. If a parking spot specifies "compact cars only," it's for a reason. If you choose to park on a busy corner and the massive size of your vehicle creates a blind spot, don't park there. If a space could be used by a larger vehicle and you park your tiny car in the middle of that space, well, don't do that. Go find a spot more appropriate for your automobile. In short, think about other people. As a person who spends my life in my car, I know how easy it is to get possessive of space. But the truth is, we have to share this city with other people.
1. Walk, bike or take public transit
The real answer to these parking issues? Drive less. I could take this advice myself — I don't utilize our public transportation, bike trails or accessible neighborhood sidewalks as much as I should (though I do know pedestrian safety is not a high priority on many major roads, which is a different post for another day). But still, driving less means fewer people trying to park in crowded spaces and fewer chances for shitty parkers to screw up a whole block's worth of parking spaces. So next time, try not driving at all — or just pay better attention to how you park. As new residents continue to pour into every available inch of space made for humans in Denver, traffic congestion is only going to get worse. Let's all work together to make it suck less!
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