Vail Daily column: ‘Speed zone’ isn’t very speedy |

Vail Daily column: ‘Speed zone’ isn’t very speedy

Richard tenBraakVail, CO Colorado

First and foremost, merry Christmas, happy holidays, and I hope all our local businesses have a busy and economically viable New Year’s! Keep on top of your customer service that we have been promoting this year. Now is the time to make your customer service work for your business.Well, the holidays are here, ready or not. As is usually the case, the procrastinator in me has succeeded so far, so now it’s scramble time to get those last-minute gifts. Not to mention that I’ll have a house full of family to celebrate Christmas with. Quick, pass the eggnog and put a little extra something in there for me, please!Last Sunday, I had the misfortune of having to drive to Denver. Usually, I don’t find the drive that bad, as I only have to do it every so often, unlike my wife, who usually has to do it every week. Well, it was a nice day weather-wise, and we had a leisurely morning and then headed on down the road. It was around 11 a.m. when we got to Silverthorne and started to head up the pass to Eisenhower Tunnel. All of a sudden, what should appear – a police car with its lights on pulls in front of me. Yes, in front of me. He then proceeds to travel at 55 miles per hour up I-70. Well, it seems that I found myself at the very front of the line of what is called a “speed zone.” Let me tell you, there is no “speed” in a speed zone. If you haven’t had the pleasure, let me assure you, a pleasure it isn’t. A speed zone is when the traffic speed is regulated to ensure a steady pace to help reduce the traffic back-up that can occur between Georgetown and Idaho Springs. Except last Sunday, it went from Silverthorne to Floyd Hill, about 40 miles total. While driving in the speed zone, I got to witness it all. To start it all off, you automatically go tense seeing flashing lights going on in front of you. That tense feeling doesn’t diminish for the entire time you are driving behind a pace vehicle. All the vehicles arriving behind you start to squeeze together. They all want to go 65 mph or more and the pace car is only going 55. Now, I like to push it as close to the speed limit as anyone else. But in a line of traffic, there is always someone who feels they should be going faster than the entire pack. So then starts the jockeying back and forth to get that one car length ahead. Those not knowing or able to see what is taking place work their way up to the front of the line of cars, pull up quickly, then step on the brakes. The hard-braking action then causes everyone else now to brake, creating that irritating rubber-necking action. The only funny part of all this is when a car tries to pass everyone, then tries to pass the pace car. Then you watch them get cut off by the pace vehicle, who is not allowing vehicles to pass them. After about 30 minutes of this, I’m now about 10 cars back in the pack from other cars pulling out and trying to get around me only to be cut off by the pace car. I turn to my wife and joke that I now know what it feels like to be a race car driver being cut off and being drafted by a line of cars at the same time! Doing this at high speeds on a race track is probably OK, but doing 55 mph and in a long line of cars that want to go faster on a public interstate didn’t seem to me to make for a safe driving environment.Well, in the end, we made it to Denver,and it only took us about 15 minutes longer that originally expected. It definitely seemed a lot longer than just a few moments when it was actually happening, and I don’t understand how these speed zones necessarily make for safer driving. So if you are planning on driving down to Denver on a Sunday afternoon, try to avoid the speed zone. Heck, isn’t a couple of hours in Vail better than sitting in traffic, no matter how fast it goes? So my advice is stay longer in Vail, eat, shop and enjoy yourself. Wait for the roads to clear and then head on down the highway to your destination.In the words of the world’s most interesting man, “Drive safely, my friends”Happy holidays, Merry Christmas and a joyous New Years to all!Stay involved and stay informed. If you are not already receiving the VCBA weekly e-newsletter, all you need to do is email us at to start receiving it.The Vail Chamber & Business Association is the leading business advocacy group in Vail and is a communications outlet for businesses that want to have a voice in community affairs. If you are interested in finding out more about the Vail Chamber and Business Association and what we have to offer to business in and that do business in Vail, please contact us at 970-477-0075 or email Based in Vail Village, our office is located on the top level of the Vail transportation center. Stop by and say hello!Richard tenBraak is Executive Director of the Vail Chamber & Business Association

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