What improvements should Vail make for mobility, transportation challenges?
Town shares results of a recent online survey amid Go Vail 2045 master plan process
As the town of Vail forges ahead on creating a mobility and transportation master plan, it has asked guests, residents and second-home owners to provide feedback on how people and goods get to and move around the town.
The Go Vail 2045 master planning process has been underway for several months now, with the goal to have a final document approved and adopted in the spring of 2024.
The plan is intended to replace the town’s previous 2009 Transportation Master Plan. It will include sections on transit, biking and pedestrians, parking, traffic and traffic calming, Interstate-70, noise, emerging technology as well as its loading and delivery program, special event logistics, implementation and funding.
A critical part of the planning has been collecting community feedback not only on what works and what doesn’t work currently but also to gauge support for various transportation- and mobility-centric solutions. While the town collected some of this data in person at its summer community picnics and over the past year, it also recently released the results of an online survey.
The online survey was open from Aug. 8 to Oct. 5 and received 143 responses. The respondents were primarily individuals who live and work in Vail (48.3%), however, there was a large contingent of individuals who work in Vail but live elsewhere (25.9%) and several who own a vacation home in the town (17.5%).
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Primarily, this survey gauged support for specific ideas and improvements for the various elements of the plan.
However, looking ahead at the master planning, some Vail council members have indicated they would like to see more input from the community.
“The more data we could get, the better,” said Council member Barry Davis. “It’d be fantastic if we could continue to search for more data to put on this, and see some demographic data on, even by age, who is responding, because I think that could give us more insight into the conversation.”
Bikes and pedestrians
Previous public input and surveys demonstrated that one of the main transportation challenges in Vail is conflicts between people walking and biking in dismount zones and on trails. In 2022, the town put together an interactive map, where individuals could add comments and concerns in specific locations throughout town. This map punctuates this concern in several locations with a majority of the comments relating to bike and pedestrian safety.
In West Vail, the map shows several comments where individuals are asking for bike lanes, also citing concerns over bike safety at the underpass, on the roundabouts and at crosswalks. Pedestrian-related comments cite similar access and safety concerns in the neighborhood. In main Vail, near both villages, there are also concerns about the lack of sidewalks and bike lanes, requests for better connections on the rec path, and areas of bike and pedestrian congestion. While there are fewer comments in East Vail on the map, they cite safety concerns over the lack of pedestrian zones and bike paths.
In its most recent 2023 online survey, respondents were asked about several suggestions that would address some of these bike and pedestrian concerns.
In sharing the key takeaways, Tom Kassmel, the town’s engineer, highlighted that the majority of respondents (about 70%) indicated they would strongly support or support each of the recreational path improvements that were asked about. The five improvements (out of 11) with the highest level of support included the following:
- Creating a separated path along the South Frontage Road from Donovan Park to Lionshead (78%)
- Adding a pedestrian-only surface from Lionshead to the Vail Public Library (77% support)
- Adding a Lionshead bypass near the gondola along Gore Creek (77% support)
- Creating a separated path along the South Frontage Road from Gore Valley Trail to West Vail (73% support)
- Extending the path along the South Frontage Road from Ford Park to Aspen Lane (73% support)
Additionally, the town asked in the survey whether respondents would support designated bike lanes and shoulders along four residential roads. This includes Vail Valley Drive, Vail Road, East Lionshead Circle and West Lionshead Circle. All four received around 80% support, with around 12% not supporting it in all four locations.
The town’s survey also asked about the level of support for adding either striped shoulders or new sidewalks (as well as for both or neither) along 13 residential roads in town. Overall, Kassmel noted that 64% of respondents support striped shoulders and/or sidewalks while 9% do not, and 28% have no opinion.
Individually, support for just striped shoulders was between 22% and 29%, while for just sidewalks it was between 7% and 14%. Support for both ranged between 25% and 34%.
The survey also asked a few questions about transit in the town and county. Specifically, it asked what improvements would encourage respondents to use the bus more in the town. Only one of the seven options received majority support: creating a seamless express bus from East to West Vail, which drew 53% support. Increasing the frequency of the West Vail express bus, which drew 45% support, was the next most supported option.
The town also asked about the newly-formed Eagle Valley Transit Authority’s proposed fare-free zone from Edwards to Vail, specifically pointing out stops in Freedom Park in Edwards as well as at Avon Station and in Vail. Respondents indicated they were more likely to take this bus in the winter, with 40% indicating they were somewhat likely and 27% indicating very likely. However, 27% also indicated they were not likely to use the service.
When asked about the same service in the summer, 7% of respondents indicated they were very likely, 50% indicated they were somewhat likely and 33% indicated they were not likely to use it.
There were three survey questions about two primary parking concerns: overflow parking on the frontage roads and where parking supply could be increased. When asked whether they supported any of the five options for addressing frontage road overflow parking to improve safety and mobility, half indicated they’d “keep overflow parking but add improvements.”
Around 23% indicated they’d support eliminating it over time, and 17% said they would eliminate it immediately. Only 6% responded they’d keep the overflow as it is, with the remaining selecting the “other” option.
The town then followed up by asking about specific improvements on just the South Frontage Road. The most supported option (of the five given) was adding sidewalks and crosswalks (with 65% selecting this option). Forty-seven percent indicated support of limiting or eliminating the parking just along busy sections, 41% supported adding lighting and 38% selected adding a payment option for the overflow parking.
In asking about adding parking supply should the South Frontage Road parking be eliminated, the top three locations were adjacent to the Vail Resorts maintenance yard, head-in parking west of West Vail Fire Station and angled parking at Ford Park.
Traffic and speeding
The survey also looked at support for different types of traffic calming measures to address concerns around conflict between transportation modalities as well as speeding concerns.
One of the ideas that could make it into the Go Vail 2045 plan is to implement a standard 20 mph speed limit on the town’s residential roads. The Town Council has previously indicated support for this universal speed limit, as they currently vary from 15 mph to 25 mph.
In this survey, when asked if they supported changing residential area speed limits to 20 mph, 76.6% of respondents said they’d support it, 14.2% said they wouldn’t, and the remaining 9.2% selected “other.”
In August, the Town Council changed the speed limit within the Intermountain neighborhood in response to speeding concerns from residents in the area. Previously, the speed limits were set at 25 mph, but the council voted to drop it to 20 mph.
However, since this time, the Vail Police Department has continued to study speeding in the area — increasing enforcement hours, adding a speed trailer and more — and has seen “no change in behavior,” Kassmel reported.
“The signage is not going to do that, it’s going to take something else to change that behavior,” Kassmel said.
In looking at all its options, the master plan may look into other strategies like road diets, rapid-flashing beacons, speed humps and more to achieve traffic calming through town.
To provide input or stay involved in the town’s Go Vail 2045 master planning process, visit EngageVail.com/GoVail2045.