Special events often lead to disregard. At any “normal time” most people seem to get that there are rules to where you can and can’t park your car. But when it comes to special events, whether that’s a kids’ soccer game or a holiday parade, suddenly all rules go out the window. If the closest place to park is a bike lane, then so be it, that bike lane is now a parking lane. If you’re late to the parade and the only place to park is blocking the entrance to a sidewalk, oh well, the pedestrians can go around.

When motorists keep parking, change the rules to favor the motorists

Fossil Creek High School was built in 2004 in southeast Fort Collins. Along the north side of the school runs Rock Creek Drive, which had a bike lane along the length of it to facilitate safe bicycle passage through the area, not only for students coming to and from school, but also for the neighborhood. Rock Creek Drive is an important east-west alternative for bicyclists who want to avoid Harmony Road.

In 2007 the bike lane was clearly marked with a thick white line and a “No Parking” sign indicated that cars should not be stored along the south side of the street.

But given the immediate proximity of the street to a high school, and especially to the sports fields, people often parked in the bike lane during games. So some time around 2012, the bike lane was removed in favor of a parking lane. The need for temporary car storage during seasonal periods was considered of greater importance than safe passage for bicyclists who were using the lane throughout the year.

In this 2012 Google Streetview image, the ghost image of the bike lane stripe is visible but the “No Parking” sign appears to have been turned around. (Google Streetview image from August 2012.)

Eventually this section of street was turned into a loading zone during school hours (7:30 am – 2:30 pm).

Cars now park along the side of the street. (Google Streetview image from August 2015.)

And by 2017 the signs were changed again to explain that this part of the street is a bus loading zone from 5 am to 3:30 pm during school days.

The fact that this street, more often than not, is bereft of cars and bicyclists use the right side as though it were still a bike lane doesn’t change the fact that the City’s messaging is clear — if the street needs to be protected for use by a specific type of vehicle, the automobile is going to win out.

When special events take place, car storage wins again

And of course, it’s not just the City that believes storing motor vehicles is more important than promoting pedestrian and bicyclist travel. There’s not an Independence Day that goes by when a parent, late to a parade or tired of looking for parking to the fireworks, decides that it’s more important to park their car than it is for pedestrians to be able to navigate a sidewalk.

The Fourth of July is all about Freedom, after all. And that includes the freedom to infringe upon the liberties of others by blocking their passage.

There were two parking spaces closer to the parade at the time when this family parked their car here.

The driver of this vehicle made sure their handicapped placard was showing… because it’s OK for handicapped motorists to keep handicapped pedestrians from using sidewalks.

Happy 4th, everyone!

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