No parking! Revised ordinance would prohibit parking in bicycle lanes

A proposed city ordinance change would prohibit parking in designated bicycle lanes. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

A proposed city ordinance change would make it illegal to park in a designated bicycle lane or bike path, but at least one Missoula City Council member wants language added providing for “exceptions” to the rule.

Set for a public hearing on Monday night, Nov. 6, the ordinance revision is sponsored by Councilman Jordan Hess.

It is intended to resolve a discrepancy between state and local laws, and to allow Missoula police to ticket vehicles that are parked in a designated bicycle lane.

Hess and city staff members who drafted the language change believe it will both protect the value of bike lanes as city infrastructure and safeguard local bicyclists and drivers.

The issue came to light recently during debate about a Linda Vista neighborhood request for exemption from bicycle lane rules – a request that was granted.

But the problem of conflicting city and state ordinances remained; thus, Hess’ proposed revision.

On Monday, council members unanimously voted to set a public hearing for their Election Eve meeting at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers.

But Councilman Jon Wilkins warned that he wants to see language added to the measure allowing for exceptions to the no-parking rule.

He offered an example:

What if there was “a Tupperware party at a house on 39th Street?” Wilkins said. Where would “the ladies park?”

If parking in the bicycle lane were prohibited, guests would have to park three blocks away and walk to the party, he said.

And that just doesn’t seem right, Wilkins said. “I want there to be exceptions.”

Council members did not respond to Wilkins’ request.