Monday, September 24, 2012

Charleston tries to fix parking on King Street

Bike corral, P-tag restrictions change parking in crowded corridor

Posted by Paul Bowers on Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 5:30 AM

The City of Charleston recently took two measures to change the way people park on King Street with the construction of a bike corral and a new rule about parking in loading zones.

The bike corral, which was completed on Thursday, consists of five upside-down U-shaped bars planted in the place of a parallel parking space. It went up — of all places — right next to Blue Bicycle Books, on the block between John and Hutson streets. The store's iconic bike, which used to always be parked on the sidewalk, can now be seen propped up against the southernmost of the poles.

Three other bike corrals are in the works downtown: one at King and Hasell streets, one on upper St. Phillip Street, and one on Concord Street near Waterfront Park. In a press release, Blue Bicycle owner Jonathan Sanchez had this to say about the first of the bike corrals:

It's amazing to think how much impact this could have on Upper King Street. So many more people are riding bikes to work now, and to go out in the evenings. Turning one metered space into a bike corral isn't just a ten-for-one trade in terms of vehicles — it's really a feather in the cap for Upper King Street. It's a cool amenity, like the bluestone and palm trees.

The other big change on King Street took place on Sept. 15, when the city started a six-month pilot program by putting up signs at 14 loading zones on King and surrounding streets that read, "Box Truck or Multi-Axle Only, 5 a.m. - 11 a.m." This is relevant because certain drivers have been cheating the parking system for years by applying to the DMV for so-called "P-tags" (special truck license plates that all begin with the letter P), claiming that they use their vehicles to make deliveries when in fact they are not.

As a result, the cheaters could park for up to 30 minutes in downtown loading zones, even when they weren't loading or unloading. When actual delivery vehicles needed to park, they sometimes had to double-park in regular parking spaces, gumming up traffic and blocking the city's precious few on-street spaces. The new signs prohibit P-tag parking from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. Boo-yah.

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