Carbondale bus driver wins Aspen trial on parking citations |

Carbondale bus driver wins Aspen trial on parking citations

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

Bus driver Betsy Bingham Johns only faced small fines connected with four citations for illegal parking in October during the Colorado Western Slope College Fair.

But Bingham Johns, 56, of Carbondale, fought the law and won when she took the case to trial Monday in Aspen Municipal Court.

She told Deputy Municipal Judge Ted Gardenswartz that her bus led a caravan of four small school buses from the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale. The buses were having trouble finding places to park at the popular and crowded event, which was held at Aspen Middle School on Oct. 5.

Bingham Johns said after searching in the area around the school-district campus, she led the buses back to Maroon Creek Road, away from the schools, after having dropped the students off. She found a spot with a wide, gravelly shoulder and parked, and the other buses followed suit.

Both sides of Maroon Creek Road in the areas of the campus and the Aspen Recreation Center are no-parking zones. Someone reported the parking job to authorities, and Aspen parking officer Ginny West was dispatched to the scene.

West issued four citations. In court, however, she said she did not have photographic evidence of a no-parking sign near the buses.

“The buses were blocking all the signs,” she said. “I couldn’t get a picture.”

Bingham Johns, however, said there were no signs in the area where she parked. She said the shoulder presented a wide enough berth without infringing on the path of Maroon Creek Road motorists. Additionally, the buses didn’t block any entrances or exits along the road.

West said there are 17 no-parking signs along Maroon Creek Road, set up so that motorists in both directions can see them. But she acknowledged that Bingham Johns might not have noticed them.

“I saw them near the ARC, but not where I parked,” Bingham Johns said.

Gardenswartz said he didn’t know exactly where the signs were located and acquitted the bus driver.

“Come back to the college fair next year,” he told Bingham Johns, “but come earlier.”

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