Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Smart meters can be stupid: Share your story and win $50

The 500-space, three-month parking pilot project that's installed sensors under many of the meters downtown may enable Denver to teach its Smart meters new tricks -- including zeroing out any time left on a meter when a car pulls out. But those sensors weren't smart enough to fix two dumb situations yesterday.

Yesterday morning, I had a breakfast meeting at Snooze, and after negotiating endless construction projects in the Ballpark neighborhood, finally gave up and parked in a spot at 23rd and Market streets, then started feeding the meter. A dollar later, the meter was stuck at 28 minutes, rather than the hour I should have gotten. What, this Smart meter couldn't count? I threw in an extra quarter for luck -- still 28 minutes -- and crossed my fingers that the parking gods would understand. (The gods were laughing: They cancelled my meeting instead.)

Yesterday afternoon, I was heading to an announcement at the Spire, and pulled into a space across from the Colorado Convention Center in the 900 block of 14th Street. The construction is finally complete along this stretch of what should never be called "Ambassador Street," and the finished $14 million project looks great, with plenty of useful signage and attractive streetscaping.

Including planters that made it impossible to get close enough to the meter to insert a credit card. I managed to twist around far enough to jam in my remaining quarters. Still, this was not smart use of a Smart meter...why not just turn the thing around? Surely there was enough money left in the $14 million project to do that.

Those were just two small stories in a city filled with parking meters -- 6,300 in all. Have a stupid Smart meter story? Post it below: We'll give a $50 Smart meter card to the person who serves up the best story by midnight next Tuesday.

All stupid parking stories do not involve Smart meters. Sometimes it's a stupid driver, sometimes a stupid rule...sometimes both. Get more info in "Parking ticket at 4 a.m. for a tire on the curb? Denver enforcement never sleeps...."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun