Downtown set to go back (in) to the future |

Downtown set to go back (in) to the future

Motorists planning on parking on Cooper Avenue in downtown Glenwood Springs might want to make sure their rear-view mirrors are properly adjusted.Striping crews are scheduled to paint back-in diagonal parking spaces between Seventh and Ninth streets on Cooper this afternoon. On Thursday morning, the parking spaces are scheduled to be opened to public use, in the first experiment with the parking scheme in Glenwood Springs.City Engineer Mike McDill said he’s not aware of similar parking being in place anywhere on the Western Slope.Today or Thursday, crews also plan to paint bike lanes on Blake Avenue from Seventh to 23rd streets.Both the back-in angle parking and bike lanes are components of the city’s traffic-calming plan. They are being implemented on an experimental basis, with the hope that they might also be used elsewhere in town if they are successful.Although the parking arrangement is new to Glenwood Springs, McDill understands it has proven its worth in other places, such as Santa Barbara, Calif., and Salt Lake City.”I like to refer to it as safety parking,” McDill said.Motorists not used to it might question that, but advocates say it’s easier to use the back-in diagonal parking than to parallel park. Motorists simply signal their intentions, pull up past the parking space, then back in.The safety advantages then kick in. First off, car doors open toward the curb rather than the street. This protects kids and other occupants from passing cars, along with people loading and unloading goods from the rear of vehicles.In addition, pulling out of the spots is safer than in the case of traditional diagonal parking, when people must back out into traffic.McDill said the total number of parking spots should remain the same on Cooper because existing diagonal parking stripes will simply be reversed. The city also will be installing a truck loading zone on Cooper at Seventh Street, which will result in the loss of a couple of spaces.City officials hope to leave a few cars parked in the spaces at first, to help motorists understand the concept. But McDill believes it should be fairly self-explanatory.”The striping will tell the story, the same as we have diagonal parking everywhere else,” he said.He expects the city to know fairly quickly whether the back-in parking scheme is successful, based on the number of accidents that occur, or the lack of accidents. McDill said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the city convert to more of the parking next year.Police Chief Terry Wilson expects to see some fender-benders, and to hear some grumbling from motorists, as with lots of changes involving traffic.”Then I think they’ll begin to adapt and it will settle down,” he said.Wilson is more worried about the Blake bike lanes. He fears cyclists will develop a false sense of security while using them. He’s concerned about people in cars parked along Blake opening their doors into the bike lanes, possibly causing bikers to hit the doors or swerve into traffic.Wilson likes the way things are now on Blake, where bikes and cars share the roadway and abide by the same rules. If bikes and cars are to be separated, there should be full separation, rather than the chance for bikes and cars intermingling in an intermittent fashion, he believes.Wilson’s concerns were among those considered during a neighborhood meeting on the bike lane proposal. One goal of the bike lanes is to narrow the traffic lanes. That is supposed to cut down on speeding, which has been a problem on Blake.Wilson hopes the bike lane experiment shows his fears are misguided.”We want to see how it does and how it impacts the vehicle traffic and the bicycle traffic,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext.

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