Glenwood business owners in snit over back-in parking
July 31, 2006
Kris Chadwick was a big supporter of the idea of trying back-in angle parking on Cooper Avenue in downtown Glenwood Springs.Now, the city councilwoman has seen enough of the pilot project to decide the concept just isn’t right for Glenwood.”I think it was a great experiment … but I just don’t think it’s working out very well for our town,” she said.Chadwick’s conclusion was encouraging to Joe Ruden, co-owner of the Good Health Store on Cooper, and one of many business owners on the street to rail against the back-in parking. He has been furious at city officials over their decision to implement the project.”They’re just hurting downtown business. It’s just crazy; there’s no reason for it,” he said.Even supporters of the project are now admitting it could have been better implemented.”If we had it all to do over there are things that we’ve learned from this experience that might modify the way we did it,” said city engineer Mike McDill.Councilwoman Chris McGovern laments that the city proceeded with back-in parking in a way that forced change on people without resulting in any significant benefits for them.”The whole reason this issue started was to increase the parking with our existing resources,” she said.Back-in parking was intended to do that by replacing parallel parking, which would result in an increase in parking spaces. But on Cooper it replaced traditional diagonal parking, meaning no gain in spaces. In fact, merchants say, there are fewer spaces now because there are lane markings, whereas before more vehicles could squeeze in.City officials decided to try out back-in parking on less heavily trafficked Cooper to get motorists used to the idea before implementing it on busier streets.”We have to get it changed back. The customers, they can’t deal with it,” said Rachael Windh, owner of the For You Shoppe on Cooper.McGovern doesn’t see a negative impact on Cooper businesses. She said the back-in spaces are filling up.”It looks pretty neat, it gives the town a little panache, so we can use it to our benefit,” she said.Windh and Ruden are collecting signatures from businesses and customers opposed to the back-in parking. Windh said many of her customers are elderly people who find the back-in parking more difficult.”I won’t even attempt it. I refuse, I just drive right in, head-first,” she said.That means driving over temporary pylons the city put up to prevent people from pulling into the spots from the opposite lane.”They just pop right back up,” Windh said of the pylons. “I have a head injury, I can’t do things backward, it’s just impossible for me to back in.”Windh also questions the wisdom of implementing the parking scheme in an area heavily visited by tourists who might be unfamiliar with it.McDill continues to like back-in parking, which is touted as being safer because it’s easier to pull back out into traffic after parking, and doors and trunks open toward the curb rather than the street. But he concedes Windh raises some good points. Yet he is not sure how soon the city could reverse course on the Cooper parking even if officials decided to do so.