Jackson Hole, WY News

Downtown parking

Downtown parking in Jackson.

Speeding can get you a ticket, but so can driving too slow. Often couched as being cautious, moving too slowly creates a different hazard.

The town’s draft plan to solve its parking problems offers a tiered approach with short-, medium- and long-term recommendations.

Framing the solution in tiers offers flexibility and adaptability, but the town needs to give this plan a little more gas if we want to get anywhere. One way to do that is to speed up some of the medium-term and long-term proposals.

Let’s start moving to add on-street paid parking within the short-term parking zone downtown, at least during peak seasons.

Some fear that downtown paid parking will change our character, but the compounded congestion caused by increasing visitor numbers and downtown employees parking curbside will crush our reputation faster than modern-day parking meters.

Although these employees are essential to locally owned and operated businesses, we can incentivize smarter habits. During summer we can innovate using park and ride lots at school campuses, for instance.

In Colorado, Aspen installed its pay-and-display system, requiring paid parking permits to be visible on a car’s dashboard, in January 1995. The first of its kind in North America, the Aspen system allowed the increasingly congested ski resort town to maintain its bustling economy while reducing overcrowding. It has been so successful that towns around the country have followed suit.

We’re frittering away a public asset by keeping it free. Consultants have calculated that the town could annually raise $500,000, a percentage of which could go to downtown projects like sidewalks, crosswalks and bike lanes.

Let’s give locals an attractive alternative parking spot by building a new parking garage over an existing lot. Parking meter revenue could help pay for it. Meter money could also pay for a smartphone app — another innovation being tested in Aspen — that rewards commuters who bus, bike or walk.

As locals, we have to recognize we are part of the solution and plan to walk or cycle to our downtown destination. That’s not too much to ask considering our downtown is measured in blocks, not miles.

This editorial represents the opinion of the News&Guide’s editorial board: Johanna Love, Rebecca Huntington, Kevin Olson and Adam Meyer.

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