Parking Episode 2: Supporting Great Places and Thriving Downtowns Through Strategic Parking


Like it or not, parking policies have a dramatic impact on the ways our communities and economies develop and grow. Unfortunately, there are few community issues that are more challenging to wrestle with. This three-part webinar series on parking will help views have a better understanding of how to craft good parking policies that help advance broader community goals. Featuring nationally recognized transportation planner Jim Charlier of Charlier Associates, this series includes guest speakers and case studies on good parking practices from communities across the Western states.

  1. Episode 1 covers the basics of what makes for good parking policy.
  2. This episode (EP.2) discusses parking management strategies that support your community’s walkability, housing, and development goals.
  3. Episode 3 explores emerging technology trends that are shaping the parking landscape in the West.


Watch episode 1   Watch Episode 2   Watch Espisode 3

Parking management can represent a conundrum for small city downtowns. The policy prescriptions offered on websites and in journal articles and books (e.g., Donald Shoup’s “High Cost of Free Parking”) may seem out of reach for communities with limited resources and limited appetite for high impact tactics like paid parking.

Jim and Leslie discuss how these challenges have been addressed successfully in rural cities and towns, including one of Colorado’s premier mountain destinations: downtown Glenwood Springs. This small city with a state highway main street has worked closely with Colorado DOT to survive a massive infrastructure project in the heart of its downtown, while at the same time implementing parking measures ranging from a new public parking garage to removal of on-street parking along 7th Street (aka Restaurant Row).

Leslie Bethel //
Executive Director // Glenwood Springs Downtown Development Authority
James F. Charlier
, AICP // President // Charlier Associates, Inc.

This webinar aired on Thursday, March 22, 2018.

Eligible for 1 AICP CM credit from the American Planning Association, event #9142997.

Presentation Slides


Q: Do you consider demand a major factor in determining whether on-street or off-street parking?
Jim: Our suggestion: meet as much demand as you can on the street, then do what you can to reduce demand (mode share, etc.), then add only as much off-street parking as you really need to.

Q: Several questions deal with the issue of generating buy-in from community members and local leaders. How do you convince city administrations in an auto-centric regions to rethink their parking strategies? How do you deal with citizens that simply don’t believe the results of a parking study?
Jim: I don’t think parking strategy varies that much from auto centric to non-auto centric places.  The viability of TDM (transportation demand management) measures has to do with how much transit service is available, how walkable the place is, etc.  The amount of demand is observable. Everybody understands how expensive it is to build new parking supply.  Nobody wants their downtown’s retail viability to be limited by how much sheet metal they can park within the downtown. It’s just economics. I have not had much trouble presenting results of parking studies to citizens. The study should be done carefully and at the right time of year. Parking inventory can be done anytime, of course. But parking utilization should be done at a busy time of year (mtn towns – summer; Front Range – December) and should cover all day (9am – 8pm, or so) for three full days (Thursday, Friday, Saturday).

Q: Does taking away off-street parking impact ADA compliance?
Jim: It is important to factor in ADA compliance.  On-street parking that is oriented diagonally can be adapted to provide ADA spaces. Parallel parking cannot.  You should know the regulations. Try to get the minimum number of ADA spaces as close to the storefronts as possible. Spread them around – don’t have them all in one place. Do meet the minimum numbers, etc.

Q: What are your opinions about parking permits for residents combined with 2-hour parking limits for customers?
Jim: Parking permits for residents can be useful in residential areas – many cities have RPP (residential parking permit) districts adjacent to downtowns or college campuses where there can be significant overflow parking demand. Time limits for customers is also a good idea, but keep in mind that you need some one or two hour zones (usually on the most important storefront streets) and some three or four hour zones (usually on peripheral streets or nearby surface lots). Somebody who comes downtown to shop and have lunch may need to park more than two hours.

Q: Is the “6th street looking east” slide a road diet plan, going from 4 lanes to 2, or similar?
Jim: You could think of it as a road diet. The previous configuration (which was carrying just under 30K vehicles per day) was four lane. But traffic on 6th will be much lower now (less than half of what it was), so a two lane configuration east of the roundabout will work. I think it has more to do with the opportunity to change the character of the street with on-street parking and space for bikes and pedestrians. I doubt anybody in Glenwood is thinking of this as a road diet. It’s about to be a completely different kind of street.

Q: How effective are the free shuttles in places like Vail at reducing parking demand, keeping visitors/shoppers happy and driving business?
Jim: They can be effective. Vail is a fairly unique situation, but many mountain and rural places that have significant transit systems are able to reduce not only peak parking demand but also short driving trips within their core areas.  The town shuttle in Jackson WY has been free and effective.  A free shuttle is usually not the first thing you would do: commuter services generally should have a higher priority. But if you have a good fixed route, scheduled service transit network already, a fare-free core area shuttle might be worth considering.

Q: What was the ADT on the highway in Glenwood Springs before the bypass? And the ADT on 7th Street after?
Jim: ADT on SR 82 in Glenwood is just under 30K.  ADT on 7th is pretty low – probably less than 10K.

Q: What was the cost of the new parking garage and how many spaces does it have?
Leslie: The Glenwood parking garage was built in 2013 for $4.4M, and includes 144 spaces.

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