Winter is at it again: Alternate side parking in Eau Claire

Story by Emily Albrent, Chief Copy Editor

Every year in Eau Claire, students, staff and faculty struggle to find parking spots on and off campus.

From Nov. 1 to May 1, alternate side parking is put into effect between 12 and 7 a.m. Community Relations Officer Kyle Rodger said the change allows emergency vehicles through in case of  heavy snowfall so they can plow at least one side of the road for access.

Rodger said the police will generally ease people into the new parking ordinance by giving out warnings for a few weeks, but they are aware that by doing this it may cause additional conflicts.

“The theory on that is that if we wait until the actual snowfall (to give out tickets) because now people are conditioned to think, ‘I’m just going to get a warning,’ now when it does snow, their vehicles are parked there and we don’t have any way to blow around that,” Rodger said.

If it is an odd-numbered day, people should park on the side of the road with the odd house numbers and vice versa for even-numbered days.

Sophomore Organizational Communication major Megan Hanrath said since the parking ordinance is only enforced early in the morning it will not necessarily influence students and their ability to park on campus. But she also said it will hurt students in other aspects of their lives, like going out to dinner or spending time at a bar.

“I understand the reasoning for it, but it is still really inconvenient,” Hanrath said. “Especially I think when going out to the bars during the winter and trying to be responsible and leaving your car somewhere and then you end up getting a ticket for it.”

Hanrath herself has been issued a ticket for alternate side parking and has many friends who have also received tickets. She said she knows the city has to do this for the safety of the community, but she finds it frustrating on days when the weather is not a factor.

She said another major problem is for students who live off campus and have no other place to park their car but on the street.

Hanrath said students often have so many other things on their mind, the last thing they need to worry about is having to move their car every day.

“The city is trying to do the right thing and make it safe, but at the same time if that (parking) is going to be such a big deal and students are going to be so inconvenienced by it, I think they need to take other measures,” Hanrath said.

Communication and Journalism Professor Martha Fay, who said she has had issues with alternate side parking, knows that students have a hard time with the change as well.

“It’s a difficult issue for students who are trying to park and trying to do it cheaply and responsibly,” Fay said.

Eau Claire Parking and Transportation coordinate Barbara Schmidt said students get into a habit of doing things a certain way, including where they park their cars.

“The city makes an effort to notify people when they are doing it,” Schmidt said. “We make it an effort to bring that information up to our News Bureau and the other piece is that the students need to make an effort to watch those signs and be aware of those things.”

Schmidt said students who are truly worried about finding a parking spot can take the bus or buy a parking permit to avoid the hassle of alternate side parking.