Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Smart meters: There's still time to send in your stupid parking stories

Parking at Smart meters can be stupid. After encountering two dumb problems in the space of a few hours downtown, we asked people to submit their most stupid parking story -- for the chance of winning a $50 Smart card to the city's meters. But anyone looking for parking on 14th Street will soon get a prize. The city recently conducted a $14 million upgrade 14th Street through downtown, adding a lot of streetscaping that also blocked access to some meters in the 900 block, where you almost need to step into a planter to deposit your coins or card. Alerted to the body-contorting conditions, the Denver Department of Public Works looked into the situation, and spokeswoman Ann Williams provided this response:
There are a lot of amenities competing for the limited space in the Right of Way. These include planters, parking for cars, parking for bicycles, meter posts, sidewalk cafes, art work, trees and landscaping, traffic control devices, driveways, guide signs and even newspaper boxes.

During the design of 14th Street, and other streetscape around the City as well, we asked for an 18" clear zone around the meters to allow for good access for customers and for maintenance. Due to the number of amenities that were included in the project, the designers were not able to meet all of the needs of all of the stakeholders. Compromises were required on all sides. No one wanted to have less parking available, or to eliminate either the planters or other amenities.

The project is still in the final phases of closeout and some adjustments are still underway. To help mitigate the problem immediately, we'll make adjustments to the difficult-to-access meters on 14th Street in the project area that make sense given the conditions around the meters.... This means that we'll look at turning the meters slightly so they can be easier to use.

In some cases, we'll need to be aware of ambient light that charges the solar panels on the meters, so we need to take those into consideration when making these adjustments. Depending upon shadows and angles, the degree turn may be different from meter to meter, but we will make adjustments to the meter heads so that they can be accessed more easily given the physical constraints present at each location. In terms of long-term solutions, we will continue to look at these situations to see if we can make access to the meter better -- perhaps the physical adjustment will provide that access successfully.

Smart thinking! (Especially remembering those newspaper boxes.)

Have a stupid parking story? We're accepting entries through next Tuesday; just post them in the comments section below, or at the end of this original parking entry. And remember: Meters are free on Monday, Memorial Day.

Looking for other things to do Memorial Day weekend. Find inspiration in "Governor Hickenlooper's Colorado bucket list" for 2012.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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