Vail says no to dismount zones
Ryan Summerlin June 18, 2013
VAIL — Bikers can keep on pedaling through Vail Village.
The Vail Town Council unanimously decided Tuesday that adding dismount zones in Vail Village isn’t necessary and would contradict many messages the town tries to send to its residents and guests.
The issue came up last year when some Vail Village business owners complained to the town that cyclists were riding dangerously fast through town.
The Vail Police Department has the authority to add signs for dismount zones, but Chief Dwight Henninger wanted feedback from the council before pursuing it.
“Let’s ask people to exercise good judgment rather than beat people over the head with it.”
“We want to encourage people to bicycle — this is a bicycle-friendly town,” councilwoman Margaret Rogers said. “I thinking making a whole dismount area is just the wrong solution for a problem that, I think, is much more narrow.”
The narrow problem exists only during big events and the Sunday farmer’s market, she said, adding that most people dismount during those times because the village is so congested.
Henninger said the town hasn’t had a lot of accidents reports between bikers and pedestrians. He said the concern was more about pedestrians being scared by cyclists and mountain bikers.
One Vail resident said he’d bet more pedestrians are scared by people carrying skis in the winter than by people riding bikes through town.
The police department’s proposal for the signs would have added dismount zones to Bridge and Wall streets, and Gore Creek Drive between Checkpoint Charlie and the east end of the Gorsuch building. The zones were to apply to bikes and skateboards, but not to pedicabs.
There are shops that rent bikes in those very areas, Rogers point out.
“We don’t want to discourage people from renting bikes,” she said.
Every council member agreed adding an enforceable zone with potential fines for offenders is not the direction to go.
But on busy days when many pedestrians crowd the village streets, the town did ask Henninger to discourage folks from biking through those congested areas.
“Let’s ask people to exercise good judgment rather than beat people over the head with it,” Mayor Andy Daly said.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2983.