MU to shut down city's on-street meters on Tiger Avenue for one year

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COLUMBIA - People who frequently park their cars on Tiger Avenue may need to look for other options starting next month. The City of Columbia is considering a suggestion from MU to replace the 37 city-owned on-street parking meters with bike lanes for a one-year trial period.

Currently, there are signs prohibiting parking on the west side of the road. According to Transit and Parking Manager Drew Brooks, once the plan starts, the city would cover both sides of the road with striped bike lanes. 

Brooks said MU brought the idea to the city earlier this summer in hopes of reducing vehicle traffic while encouraging people to walk and bike. He said MU has performed a parking and transportation study over the last couple of years.

“I think their observation was that there was a lot of vehicles that are kind of circulating, looking for parking, whether it’s on-street parking or garage parking or parking lots,” Brooks said. “So they’re looking for ways to kind of reduce that kind of constant circulation of folks, and I’m thinking it’s primarily students and visitors to the campus.”

MU spokesperson Christian Basi said, “We were concerned about the congestion on that stretch of road. We have a lot of bicycle and pedestrian traffic on that road. Safety is our No. 1 priority on the campus, and this was one way we could address a safety concern.”

Brooks said one big question is where those drivers are going to park without metered spaces.

He said, “The university has ample parking, it just might not be what you would call close to campus. It might be on some of their satellite lots. So someone who would maybe park daily on that street might want to look at some other options, maybe permanent parking either on campus or in a city garage, and then perhaps taking public transportation into campus.”

Brooks said MU also has the thought of removing all city-owned parking across campus, but because of high costs, the current plan is only limited to that one stretch of road.

According to a staff report to the city council, MU has agreed to reimburse the city for the loss of revenue during the one-year period for $66,374. 

Basi said it’s still too early to decide if MU will extend the project after the trial period.

“We’ll review the situation after the program and determine if it will continue,” he said.

Brooks said the plan would not impact the daycare on Tiger Avenue, the Children’s House of Columbia, as it has a loading zone in front of its property now for parents to drop their children off.

“They can just pull over into that bike lane to park whenever they’re loading and unloading. So there should be no impact on the daycare,” he said.

Brooks said the plan will help the city move in the direction of creating a car-light downtown area. He said before the one-year period officially begins, a 90-day trial period will start right away in August.

“The city manager has the authority to begin the pilot for 90 days,” he said. “So he can change, I guess you would say, parking ordinance or whatever for 90 days as a pilot.” 

Brooks said the council showed support for the proposal at its meeting July 17, and it will direct the staff to prepare an ordinance to make Tiger Avenue a no-parking zone for one year in the next few meetings before the 90 days expire.