In an effort to facilitate the steady flow of traffic needed to support a vibrant business district, Bristol, Tennessee has adopted two-hour parking limits in most public spaces downtown.
The change was recommended in the recent Downtown Strategic Plan conducted by The Walker Collaborative, which noted that parking regulations differed throughout downtown from unlimited parking in some areas to one-hour, two-hour, and three-hour parking in other areas. The move to two-hour parking during regular business hours is typical in downtown areas and “maximizes periodic turnover to keep spaces available for shopping and dining customers rather than downtown employees in need of longer-term parking,” the study said.
Unrestricted on-street parking is still available on Broad Street between Sixth and Eighth streets. Public parking in downtown Bristol, Virginia is limited to two hours.
“For a city to function properly and support commerce, it is important to have periodic turnover within the available parking spaces,” said Tom Anderson, director of Economic Development for Bristol, Tennessee. “These spaces are free, and we want to make them available to everyone who wants to eat downtown, visit a shop, get their haircut or do business with one of the professional firms.”
There are currently 3,397 parking spaces available, which the study says “should be adequate for Downtown Bristol on a typical day. Although special event days may result in the parking demand exceeding the parking supply, such days are very limited in number and plenty of parking is available only a short walk away just outside of downtown.”
In addition to new signs announcing two-hour parking limits, the City is in the process of installing signs that read “By parking in timed spaces, you consent to your tires being chalked for parking enforcement.” The signs are in response to a Taylor v. City of Saginaw, a recent ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that the practice of chalking tires must be done in accordance with the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches. Installation of the signs should be completed shortly. The City chalks tires as an efficient, low-cost way to enforce parking regulations, and those who do not consent to chalking should park in unrestricted parking spaces.
Police Chief Blaine Wade said parking violations result in fines of $15 plus $6 court costs. Unpaid fines are turned over to a collection agency, he said, and can negatively impact an individual’s credit score.
“We always encourage motorists to be aware of all traffic and parking signs to ensure they are in compliance with local ordinances,” he said. “Parking regulations in downtown are now consistent and clearly posted to alleviate any confusion.”