Cyclists say good things about Vail
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” Vail resident Brent Robinson’s favorite bike ride is right outside his door – Vail Pass, a 9-mile climb that winds up to the summit on a quiet bike path.
“I love that ride,” he said. “I like that I can take off my helmet, put on my iPod and rip up it without having to worry about cars or motorcycles.”
Robinson is one of several cyclists who agree that Vail deserves its latest designation as one of the country’s most “bike-friendly communities,” a label awarded by the League of American Bicyclists.
The Vail Town Council was presented the League’s bronze award Tuesday night.
“It’s clear that Vail is a destination for bicycling and truly a bicycle friendly community,” said Elizabeth Trail of Bikes Belong, one of the program’s partnering organizations.
Applicants for the award were graded on several criteria, including education programs, the community’s streets and network of paths, efforts to encourage the community to ride more, and enforcement of biking and traffic laws.
Vail was recognized for its bike path system, its enthusiasm for the sport through races and rides that go through town, and its advertising campaign that encourages people to get on bikes.
Vail made the list along with others such as Santa Monica, Calif., Tulsa, Okla., and Philadelphia.
“Vail has been building rec paths and bike paths long before it was in vogue,” said Vail Mayor Dick Cleveland. “It’s part of the way of life here.”
Local riders said they enjoyed riding in Vail, both on the roads and on the rec paths.
Dominique Mohrman, a frequent rider and bike commuter, said she thinks Vail has great biking terrain, from relaxing rides along the Gore Creek to steep climbs.
“Vail offers great variety of altitude and grade. There’s nowhere to get bored,” she said. “Sometimes if we’re not going on a longer ride, we’ll also ride along the creek for pleasure. We’ll take our trailers and touring bikes. It’s a fun thing to do.”
Local cyclist Eric Benson said he rides through Vail to ride up the pass, and enjoys the wide shoulders on South Frontage Road.
“I definitely think Vail is pretty bike-friendly,” he said. “I usually stick to the frontage roads. I do feel safer there than on Highway 6 where there’s no shoulder.”
However, town planners and cyclists also agreed that Vail could be an even better place to bike.
“This gave us a great baseline as to how to measure bicycling in our community and make improvements,” said Gregg Barrie, the town of Vail landscape architect who applied for the award. B
iking improvements in Vail could get the town recognized as a silver, gold or platinum biking-friendly community.
Benson said he thinks the town’s bike path route could be better marked. At times, the trail empties into the street, and the trail can be difficult to follow all the way through town.
Benson, a manager at Venture Sports in Avon, said the shop often has bike tour groups that go from the top of the pass through Vail.
“It gets complicated for them to find the path right away when they pass through East Vail,” he said. “People miss the signs, and a lot of times it can get confusing with all the construction.”
Robinson said he’d like to see more organized rides and bike races in town.
“I think Vail is a great place for hill climb races, but I think we would benefit from having more events” he said, suggesting a time trial or criterium race ((timed race on a small, closed course).
“For such an active town with so much going on in the winter, I don’t feel like the one summer (cycling) event they have is representative of the community,” he said.
Riding through Vail would be more inviting without the noise of cars on Interstate 70, said Mohrman.
“There’s not really any way to get rid of that, though,” she said. “They should build a big, clear tunnel over the road. There would be no noise, and no snow on the road. Maybe they’d save money on maintenance costs.”
Staff writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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