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City of Boulder Access Management and Parking Strategy Implementation


Boulder, Colorado

Related Services Curb Management Planning

Graphic of parking, pedestrian, bike, bus, and technology

Boulder, Colorado is known for a high quality of life. Access through a variety of transportation and parking options contributes to that quality of life. To improve and future-proof transportation conditions, the City of Boulder partnered with Walker Consultants to conduct a sweeping revitalization of core parking and curb access programs citywide, including the parking and curbside pricing approach and the Neighborhood Parking Permit (NPP) Program.

Demand-Based Pricing to Manage Access—Without the Big Bill

Demand-based pricing—when parking prices are determined or influenced by parking demand, either by time or place—often requires millions of dollars in capital and ongoing administrative and labor costs, making it difficult for smaller cities to implement. But given Boulder’s commitment to embracing the best and brightest mobility innovations, Walker worked to develop a contextual, first-of-its-kind approach to demand-based pricing ready for implementation without the giant price tag.

Portion of a map showing downtown parking occupancy in BoulderThe approach leverages the city’s existing parking access and revenue system and staff resources, analyzing readily-available data to “tier” on-street parking prices based on typical peak demand and performance targets. This means the city can make parking more convenient by better managing parking demand, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional revenue each year to fund mobility improvements, with no fussy sensors, no constant data collection needs, and no additional staff.

Responsive, Proactive Neighborhood Parking Management

As cities grow and change, managing resident expectations for parking availability becomes more and more difficult. Transportation demand management and sustainability initiatives—efforts to reduce reliance on personal vehicles and expand use of other transportation options, like walking, biking, and transit—complicate the matter even further. Nearing 30 years in existence, Boulder’s Neighborhood Parking Permit Program was no longer meeting the needs of its evolving community.

In response, Walker crafted a proactive, customized approach to neighborhood parking management, using quantitative performance metrics like parking supply and demand, qualitative considerations like land use mix and access richness, and a deep understanding of Boulder’s vision for a regenerative future to determine appropriate parking and mobility management approaches citywide. The new program also streamlines administrative processes, and results in 100% cost recovery for the program by 2024, following years of only 50-60% cost recovery.

A Framework for the Future

The Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, shifting consumer behaviors, expanding transportation technology and options, and countless other factors have dramatically impacted how we use our curb space. With this in mind, Boulder was unwilling to settle for a parking pricing and management program that wasn’t future proofed for the curb’s evolution—so Walker developed a parking pricing framework and program that accommodated future monetization efforts that include all curb users, like Ride App pick-up and drop-off and commercial deliveries.

Successful Community Collaboration in the Face of COVID

With the pandemic making in-person engagement impossible, Walker and the City of Boulder partnered with digital marketing agency Denver Crowd to craft an innovative virtual engagement strategy that included a custom-built website with layered opportunities for collaboration, virtual engagement modules launched at community meetings and focus groups, an “Access Allies” taskforce, coordination across City boards, commissions, and Council, and more. Over a 10-month period, the engagement initiative yielded participation from nearly 10,000 unique members of the Boulder community.

Reach Out

Interested in pursuing pricing programs that don’t bankrupt your city, proactive and customized neighborhood parking management, and a curb framework that embraces present and future? Contact Mallory Baker or Chrissy Mancini Nichols today.

See the Recommendations

Interested in seeing Walker’s complete recommendations for Boulder? Read the full report (19.7MB PDF).