Road diet comes complete with mood swings
AVON — The aspen leaves that have been painted on West Beaver Creek Boulevard are not meant to be permanent, and neither are the planters sitting there.
Like any diet, the East and West Beaver Creek Boulevard road diet has come with some mood swings. The new traffic pattern — which uses heavy paint to delineate what could later become permanent landscaping — has been in the test phase for nearly three weeks, and will continue to be tested during the next couple of months.
Town engineer Justin Hildreth says the comments haven’t been all bad.
“It’s definitely slowed people down,” he said. “So that goal has definitely been accomplished.”
However, “some people just don’t like it, they say it’s just too much,” Hildreth added.
Walking Beaver Creek Boulevard on his lunch break Friday, Joe Carlini — sandwich in hand — said he didn’t approve of the new layout, which has a lane of parked cars in between the driving lane and the bike lane.
“The bike lane is just pushing out the cars to park in the middle of the street,” he said. “That’s just stupid, to me.”
Hildreth said figuring out the placement of the bike lanes will be a top priority this fall, when the town reconvenes and collects all comments associated with the test.
“Last year, we had the bike lane between the parking and the drive lane, so we want to gather comments on which (users) prefer,” Hildreth said.
30 NEW PARKING SPACES
Any incidents reported in the area will also be a consideration in the permanent plan.
So far, no accident reports have been taken by police, but Avon resident and bicyclist Rich Buckingham said he’s had a few close calls.
“My truck barely fits (between the driving and parking lanes),” he said. “If you make one mistake you’re going to get in a car accident.”
In addition to telegraphing a pedestrian friendly attitude in town, adding more parking to Avon has been another priority of the lane restructure.
“I think parking is going to be our number one problem in this town, and it’s going to get worse and worse,” councilman Buz Reynolds said at a recent town hall meeting.
The Beaver Creek Boulevard restructure added 30 new spaces to town, but Buckingham said those spaces aren’t in the right area.
“I’ve always been able to find parking for everywhere I want to go on West Beaver Creek Boulevard,” he said. “All the destinations on that street have their own parking.”
T.J. Simpson says he’s been driving a large van and pulling a trailer down West Beaver Creek Boulevard for his job this summer.
“It’s brutal,” he said of maneuvering between the parked cars and the other lane of traffic.
He has used the new parking spaces, but when he does, “I feel like I’m leaving the van in the middle of the street,” he said.
Simpson has had a front row seat for the changes as he works for Charter Sports, a bike rental company on East Beaver Creek Boulevard. He says no client to whom he has rented has had any positive comments to share about the new bike lane in front of the shop.
“But this is the kind of thing where you’re mainly going to hear the negative feedback,” he said. “Nobody’s really going to comment on how good it is.”
Being in the bike renting business, Simpson said he does appreciate the omnipresent symbol of a bicycle painted on roads in town.
“Having all the biking signs gets everybody interested, gets them thinking ‘Oh, that’s what people do here, maybe that’s what we should do here,’” Simpson said.
Nevertheless, the bike lane itself is hardly necessary, he said.
“If you can’t make it from the Comfort Inn to the roundabout without a bike lane, what are you doing?” he said.
Simpson said the community is already bicycle friendly as a function of its location, regardless of what is painted on the roads. He added that the sharrows, road paintings of bicyclists with arrows pointing forward, were sufficient in reminding drivers of that.
“That was all you needed; let people know there’s bike riders here,” he said.
Hildreth encourages uses to continue to send in their comments to email@example.com.
“We haven’t had a ton of comments, probably about 10 or 12,” he said. “We’ll compile everyone’s comments and do a little more public outreach in September.”
It would be really hard to spark a wildfire anywhere near Vail Mountain or Beaver Creek right now. Still, unattended campfires will always draw attention.