CDOT: ‘It boils down to limited funding’ | VailDaily.com
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CDOT: ‘It boils down to limited funding’

Charles Meyer is an expert when it comes to assessing the growing problem between bikers and drivers on local roads here in Eagle County.Meyer, the Region 3 traffic cooperation engineer at the Colorado Department of Transportation office in Grand Junction, has a collateral role as bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for this part of the state. Region 3 comprises the northwest corner of Colorado and parts of the Front Range, with a finger running all the way down to Gunnison.An avid cyclist himself, Meyer said CDOT has taken a proactive approach in trying to improve biker safety – be it promoting on-road etiquette for bikers on its Web site, putting up and maintaining Share-the-Road signs, or taking bikers into consideration when improving roads.CDOT also has a statewide bike and pedestrian coordinator in Betsy Jacobson who works with bicycle advocacy groups to help educate bikers and motorists alike about the laws of the road.Jacobson also works with community officials around the state to help drum up support – and funds – to improve roads.”She meets with local communities and experts in the field,” Meyer says. “She then is somewhat of a contact between these communities and certain grants that might be able to help with those improvements.”Meyer says the biggest problem CDOT faces when improving existing roads or beginning new projects is funding – or lack thereof.”When we do projects, we look at (biker safety) every time,” he says. “Widened shoulders provide safety for bicycles and motorists, as far as broken-down motorists. It’s a benefit to all who use the system. … What it boils down to is limited funding. You think about adding 4-foot shoulders on either side of the highway. That’s almost a full lane. That can substantially increase costs.”Essentially, Meyer says, CDOT does the best job it can with the funds it has. Sometimes that means safety improvements like wide shoulders get axed in favor of the most pressing needs – like repaving a stretch of highway that needs it before it becomes accident-prone to drivers.Some bikers in Eagle County have also complained about the lack of signs promoting good biker-motorist etiquette on busy stretches of asphalt like Highway 6.Meyer says he agrees more signs are a good thing, but again funding comes into play. The specific criteria CDOT uses for determining where to use the signs goes back to the mantra of utilizing the money available to its full potential.”Basically, we will install them where there is no shoulder, or where there are abrupt changes in the shoulder where the cyclist might have to shy into the road,” he says. “There might be some other conditions, like sight conditions.”One of the best things CDOT does, Meyer says, is try to work with local officials to generate funds for improved bike paths and bike bridges so novice recreational bikers don’t have to use the roads.But, as any serious road biker knows, cyclists who want to get a good workout aren’t going to use recreational paths. Going more than 20 mph on a recreational path is a danger in itself, Meyer says.One thing is for sure – with the population growing, and Colorado being an ideal place to ride a bike, the potential for conflict between bikers and motorists isn’t going to lessen.But, Meyer says, CDOT will continue to do what it can at a number of different levels to combat the growing problem.”CDOT is aware and we’re working in the direction to minimize those conflicts by getting the support at the local level and getting the support from local politicians to mitigate these problems in the future,” he says. “It’s a focal point in Eagle County because it’s such a popular place to ride a bike.”Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at npeterson@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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