Ask Denverite

Denver’s issuing fewer parking meter tickets than the before times, but we’re still driving less

And May 2020 was like the Purge for parking violations.

Parking meters along Delaware Street.

Parking meters along Delaware Street.

Chloe Aiello/Denverite
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Denverite love to answer questions from our lovely readers. Today’s comes from Chuck, who had more of an observation than question:

“I have been watching out my window for two days now as parking enforcement people write tickets for expired meters. I truly don’t think I have seen a single one in more than two years,” he wrote to us. “They are back.”

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) suspended parking enforcement in 2020 but resumed after a few months. We dove into the city’s ticket data to see if Chuck’s observations reflected a larger trend.

The short answer: It does not.

Tickets related to parking meters have been generally lower than they were in the before times. May 2022 represented the lowest month for meter-related fines since 2019, except for April and May 2020, when there was basically no enforcement.

220614-PARKING-METER-TICKETS-CHART-DOTI-01
Source: Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure

Nancy Kuhn, DOTI’s spokesperson, told us the department hasn’t been ratcheting up parking violations.

“If someone is seeing more enforcement out the window, it could be some training happening,” she wrote, “or maybe this person saw one of our agents on a walking beat on a day that there was also street sweeping enforcement?”

On the other hand, total numbers of car-related tickets – like parking in front of a fire hydrant or in a handicap spot – have reached higher levels than pre-pandemic times. In April and May 2022, the majority of these fines were related to street sweeping. (Fun fact: Denver’s street sweepers clean up enough pollution each year to fill Coors Field nine feet deep.)

One possible explanation for fewer meter tickets: People still aren’t really moving around town.

Google has been compiling “mobility data” each week since the start of the pandemic to try to chart how people move compared to a baseline from early 2020. The numbers aren’t limited to car trips, but they still suggest we are far from our pre-COVID habits.

The latest report, which runs through June 11, 2022, estimates Denverites are traveling to retail and recreation destinations almost 30% less than they were in early 2020 and traveling to workplaces about 20% less than the before times. But parks are still getting a lot of love: Google’s latest data suggest 14% more trips to green spaces over the baseline.

Google’s reports only show trends over a six-week period. Researchers at Harvard have been gathering all of the data, albeit with some lag. The following charts show Harvard’s longer view on this mobility data, which ends in April 2022 but demonstrates how far we’ve come (and how far we need to go).

220614-denver-county-retail-recreation-mobility-data-chart-01
Source: Google Mobility Data viaHarvard Dataverse

Here’s where all the meters are:

Most of Denver’s parking meters are Downtown and along Broadway, Lincoln Street and Colfax Avenue. There are little pockets of pay stations in Cherry Creek, the Tech Center and in Hale, too! Prices on city meters recently doubled, from $1 per hour to $2, as part of an economic recovery plan Mayor Hancock pushed last year.

Click here for an interactive version of the map.

A map of most of Denver's parking meters (a few in the Tech Center were omitted).

A map of most of Denver's parking meters (a few in the Tech Center were omitted).

Source: Denver Open Data

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