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Knoxville creating 15-minute parking spots to make quick downtown errands easier

If you park in one of the spots, you need to activate your emergency flashers before running your errand.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Have a quick stop to make in downtown Knoxville but dread it so much because of parking? Now, you don't have to!

The city will be converting 11 on-street metered parking spaces at six locations from 2-hour paid parking to free 15-minute parking, starting on Monday, August 2.

Spanish Version: Knoxville crea estacionamientos de 15 minutos para recados en downtown

The “Downtown Stop-n-Go” spots are located at South Gay Street and Wall Avenue; South Gay and Union Avenue; the 700 block of South Gay; South Central Street and Willow Avenue; Union and Market Street; Clinch Avenue west of Market Street; and West Church Avenue and Walnut Street.

If you park in one of the spots, you need to activate your emergency flashers before running your errand.

If you exceed the 15-minutes or don't activate your flashers, Public Building Authority parking enforcement officers will issue a citation.

“We want to make it easier for patrons of nearby businesses to run a quick errand – for example, restaurant customers picking up a to-go food order,” said Downtown Coordinator Rick Emmett. “But to be fair to the next customer, it’s critical that someone park briefly, run their errand and then free up the parking space.”

The city learned a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic. To help restaurants stay open, they temporarily bagged some parking meters and installed special signs that designated spaces for people who wanted to pick up food. 

“Before the pandemic, there were only a few 15-minute spaces,” Emmett said. “Then, during COVID-19, we wanted to help businesses stay open, so we set aside more spaces for pickups and carry-outs.

“We learned a lot about where these spaces are most needed by restaurants with quick in-and-out customers, and where the traditional 2-hour parking spaces work better. So now, drawing from the data and recent experiences with 15-minute parking, we’ve strategically designated 11 spaces for free parking near clusters of restaurants and other businesses.”

There are more than 10,500 public parking spaces in the downtown area, including six city-owned garages which offer $1-an-hour daytime rates and free parking on nights and weekends.