Opinion: Let's Address Our Parking Issues Before It's Too Late

February 6 2013, 9:30 AM

Driving around Uptown and Capitol Hill a few Saturday nights ago, I couldn't help but think about parking. Namely, about how there isn't any. These two neighborhoods have long been among Denver's toughest places to find a spot, but lately it sure seems like it's been harder than ever.

Such is the price of our city's ascension. For the past five or 10 years, we've added myriad "creative class" amenities: restaurants, bars, boutiques, galleries, and all the other attractions that make our cultural life hum. The net benefit of this, of course, is well worth it. But with the population boom Denver and the Front Range are expected to experience in the coming decade, we might need to get used to increasing everyday annoyances like tougher restaurant reservations, concerts and other events that sell out quicker, and worsening traffic.

And fewer parking spaces. The good news is, we're still nowhere near a crisis situation. For 15 years, I lived in and around San Francisco, where finding a spot within two blocks of your destination always felt like Christmas morning. Thankfully, Denver can't yet compare to this situation.

But it's coming. Before this increased congestion morphs into a crisis, maybe it's time to take a closer look at non-car alternatives. Not in the touchy-feely Portlandia sense, but because practically speaking, the fewer people that want or need to climb into a car will make Denver that much more navigable and liveable.

Picture light rail or trolley lines along formerly car-crammed streets like Colfax, Speer, Colorado, Sixth Avenue, 38th Avenue, or University. Picture not just the convenience, but the resulting boost such transit options would provide commercially and residentially. Yes, it's an expensive daydream, but if we don't begin to address these encroaching trends, everyday life in Denver might one day become a nightmare.

Got your own ideas about how to improve life in Denver? Share them with us in the comments below.

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Follow 5280 articles editor Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.