Vail Daily editorial: Lots of people coming to town a good problem to have
While the Saturday of this year’s GoPro Mountain Games may have set a new one-day record for Vail visitors, that title has long been held by the town’s Fourth of July celebration, Vail America Days.
It’s a great day, and if you’re new to town or visiting, then there’s nothing quite like Vail’s all-day, multi-event Fourth of July celebration.
As with any big, familiar event in Vail, the Fourth of July raises some equally familiar complaints. The biggest is about traffic in general, and parking in particular. We all know what it can be like getting out of town after the parade. Now think about the residents along and near the parade route. If those folks run out of chips or watermelon for the afternoon barbecue, then a quick trip to the store is going to take some time.
Vail officials generally do a good job handling big crowds and lots of traffic — keeping the town’s economic engine humming depends on it. But there are always ways to do better.
For instance, how could the town do a better job of ensuring residents access to their homes during big events?
More relevant to most of us, though, are parking and traffic — and this applies to Avon’s Salute to the U.S.A., too.
This point may be moot by the summer of 2018 — don’t be surprised if guests have to pay for summer parking by then — but could paid parking on holidays or other big days encourage more people to bike into town or use transit? Paid parking is already used on big days at Ford Park as a transit-encourager. Could the same thing work for the Fourth of July? Maybe.
Thousands of residents might be willing to trade their cars for bikes or buses with a combination of paid parking and free county bus service. That still leaves the Front Range drive-up crowd, but there’s no handy place to intercept them east of Vail.
Still, getting, say, 40 percent of the local drive-in crowd out of their cars would help a lot. The problem is that county bus service requires paid tickets. A group of four adults will pay $32 for a round trip with no transfers. That’s reasonable. Still, if the county and town could find a way to provide free service to Vail-bound riders for a day — something that would probably require Vail to underwrite tickets for a day — it’s likely a number of people would leave their cars on the west side of Dowd Junction.
No big-event plan will ever be perfect. But any plan, even a mostly effective one, can always benefit from additional thought and action.
Here’s hoping the valley can continue to work on more effective ways to get people into and out of our biggest celebrations.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Krista Driscoll and Business Editor Scott Miller.