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Vail Town Council to discuss e-bikes on Vail Pass

The Vail Town Council will discuss its preferences regarding the use of e-bikes on Vail Pass and bicycle dismount zones in the village pedestrian areas at its afternoon meeting on Tuesday. The meeting begins at 1 p.m. in the Town Council chambers with social distancing protocols in place. The meeting will be live-streamed at http://www.highfivemedia.org/live-five.

During the busy summer months, there is much activity on Vail Pass and on town bike paths which coincide with many pedestrian areas. Tuesday’s discussion will present an opportunity to review what is currently allowed and to collect feedback from the Town Council regarding Vail’s position in allowing e-bikes on Vail Pass as well as ideas to reduce congestion in the pedestrian areas.

To review the staff memo or for information on how to forward public input on these agenda topics, please access http://www.vailgov.com/town-council or email publicinput.vailtowncouncil@vailgov.com by noon Tuesday.

The Vail Pass Recreation Trail is operated and maintained by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Like Interstate 70 on Vail Pass, much of the trail is located within an easement with the U.S. Forest Service.

CDOT’s general position is that the trail is a transportation route constructed as part of I-70, providing a continuous non-interstate bicycle route through Colorado, and that it should be managed under state law which allows Class I and Class II electric-assisted bicycles on paved recreation trails. The USFS general position is that e-bikes are motorized vehicles, and therefore not allowed on this trail per the White River National Forest Travel Management Plan.

Because the trail holds a USFS Trail designation, the current understanding is that e-bikes are prohibited. The town has been asked to provide its input into CDOT’s more formal process to occur on July 16. The overall goal is to come to an agreement with the USFS that would allow e-bikes on the Vail Pass Trail. The Vail Town Council has supported the use of e-bikes on town owned recreation trails. Recreation, guest experience and commuting opportunities were a few of the reasons the Town Council cited for supporting e-bikes on paved trails.

Dismount zones in pedestrian areas

The topic of dismount zones has been discussed in recent years; however, there has not been a decision to create or enforce dismount zones for various reasons and somewhat related to the complexity of solving the problem as issues really arise only during the busy times of year. There is currently one dismount zone on private property near Arrabelle in Lionshead.

In addition, bikers are asked to dismount on some stairways in Vail Village. There are many challenges in pedestrian ways with much congestion between pedestrians, bicycles, electric bicycles and other new forms of transportation such as Segways, scooters and hoverboards as well as the speed variation of bicycles, etc. that can create what feels like less-than-safe conditions.

It has been suggested that “dismount zones” in village areas could offer a solution. The discussion will offer an opportunity to review what is currently allowed in pedestrian areas and put forth some questions and ideas that may help generate solutions as to how to mitigate these issues created by many types of transportation uses in these areas.

For more information, email Gregg Barrie, senior landscape architect, at gbarrie@vailgov.com.


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