By: Greg Muhonen, PE, Public Works
Most Estes Park residents are painfully aware that the streets in our community are narrow. In fact, the Development Code standards adopted in 2005 perpetuate this characteristic, stating permissible street pavement widths can range from 20 to 26 feet. This is certainly sufficient for two cars to pass each other, but begins to create a safety hazard when people park their cars on these streets and block the travel lanes.
These narrow road surfaces can serve a village just fine when private property owners provide ample parking for owners and visitors on the private property. They don't work so well when the private parking areas are insufficient for contemporary parking needs. In this situation, folks often feel they have no option but to park on the street. We are seeing this more often, particularly during evenings and weekends when residential private parking lots and driveways are full of parked cars, and the overflow parking spills onto our narrow streets. This begins to put our safety at risk.
A car parked on the street takes up about 8 feet and leaves 12 to 16 feet that must be shared by two lanes of traffic. Two cars parked on opposite sides of the street take up about 16 feet, leaving only 4 to 8 feet for traffic. A snowplow is about 11 feet wide. A fire truck is about 10 feet wide. When cars park on our narrow streets, they can prevent fire trucks from responding to an emergency and plows from removing snow. When the parked cars finally leave, traffic packs the unplowed snow into a sheet of ice, and sometimes we have few options other than leave it in place until the sun melts it away. Icy roads leave our residents, visitors and snow crew all feeling dissatisfied with the snow removal service delivery.
By law, parking is prohibited on Town streets that do not have designated parking lanes or shoulders that are wide enough for a car to park off the pavement. In some locations with recurring violations and complaints we have posted "No Parking" signs, however very few streets are signed. Please do not park on our narrow streets, and please respect the “No Parking” signs where posted. We believe we protect the beauty of our community by minimizing a proliferation of “No Parking” signs on all of our narrow streets, so we are asking for your voluntary help and cooperation.
When police officers and Public Works staff see cars parked on our narrow pavement, they may give you a courtesy copy of this information as a gentle reminder that most of our roads are designed and built for driving, not parking. During our work activities, like snow removal, when we encounter cars parked in the narrow streets, we may be required to contact the Police Department and have them towed at the owners’ expense. This is no fun for anyone involved.
The bottom line: Parking on Town streets is only legal when there are designated parking lane/spaces, or a wide shoulder. We hope this information will help you find the safest parking option. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 970-577-3587.