JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — Jefferson County Open Space is turning to rideshare programs to help relieve some of the parking congestion at some of its most popular trails.
Over the past year in particular with the pandemic, people have been looking for a fun way to get out of the house with their families safely. Many people have been turning to trails for hiking and biking.
Because of that, outdoor spaces around the state have been getting more and more crowded, especially in the parking lots.
“We’re hearing pretty loud and clear from folks in the community that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find parking especially during peak times, holidays, weekends,” said Dillon McBride, the north region coordinator for Jefferson County Open Space (JCOS). “Something that we are also seeing more and more is people parking along the shoulder of the road or in the adjacent neighborhoods and, in some cases, parking illegally.”
Others are having to circle parking lots over and over again waiting for a space to open up. Trails in Jefferson County have become so busy McBride says the weekends are now closer to the sizes of crowds they used to see only on holidays, and weekdays are looking more like weekends.
Across Colorado, some areas are turning to permits and reservation systems as a way to limit the crowd sizes.
Jefferson County Open Space is trying a different approach. The county has partnered with Lyft to kick off a pilot program that will offer discounted rides to and from some of their busiest trails in the hopes of relieving parking congestion.
The rideshare program is now offering a $2.50 discount on customers’ fares to and from the trails from now through the end of the year by using the code JCOS2021.
“We’re excited to partner with Jefferson County Open Space to launch this pilot and increase accessibility while decreasing congestion at some of the best parks in the area,“ said Lyft in a statement to Denver7.
After a rider uses the discount code the first time, it will auto-apply to their future rides to and from the trailheads during park hours.
The trails that are eligible for the program include:
- North Table Mountain Park – West Trailhead
- South Table Mountain Park –Camp George West Trailhead
- South Table Mountain Park - Golden Hills Access
- White Ranch Park – East Trailhead
Along with the popularity of these trails, McBride says JCOS also considered cell phone service at the trailheads it selected for the program.
“We would hate to see somebody get to a trailhead and then not be able to leave by calling a Lyft. We don’t want to see anybody get stuck,” he said.
At the start of the four trailheads, there are signs advertising the program in an effort to encourage visitors to try it out.
The program started on June 28 but none of the people Denver7 spoke with on the trails Friday had heard of it yet. Several, though, thought the program was a good idea and said they might try it out in the future.
“I support people going outside, and to whatever extent that you can, get fewer cars on the road and utilizing things like Lyft to get out here .I support that,” said Todd Burgett.
If the program is successful, McBride says JCOS might consider expanding it to other trails in the area in the future.
He is already getting requests for more information from other land management agencies in Colorado to see if it’s an idea that can work for them.
If it works, more visitors might have a chance to enjoy the outdoors without fighting for a parking spot.