Vail Daily column: Avon tests new road pattern
During my time on council, I have experienced how powerful and successful changes have been for the town of Avon. I have also experienced just how hard change is and that often new proposals are met with an almost and immediate resistant reaction. Change, no matter how positive, takes some adjustment. If you have driven through Avon lately, you have undoubtedly noticed some impressive and successful changes. And now, one of the biggest proposed new changes began this week and will be tested throughout the next several months. West Beaver Creek Boulevard has been re-striped in an experimental pattern to create more parking, slow vehicular traffic, and create protected cycling lanes. Before the paint had dried, I received my first message of discontent.
The road pattern changes you will experience are an important and dynamic phase in the town’s overall goal to make Avon more pedestrian and cyclist friendly. Similar to the beautiful landscaping and safety changes to Avon Road, this improvement is intended to build a safer, modern and attractive boulevard. Through outreach and study, the town has seen how these improvements can support existing businesses and spur new development as we create an unified town center. This plan was developed after careful consideration, public outreach and thoughtful discussion stemming from work with Avon’s consultant group Blue Zones.
Several components of the West Beaver Creek Boulevard are deliberate to change the pattern of use. The travel lanes on West Beaver Creek Boulevard have been adjusted from 12-foot lanes to 11-foot lanes. This 1-foot difference is noticeable and has already resulted, as planned, in slowing traffic. The early comment that there is not enough room for a car can be understood, but it is a standard width for any street. The lane width does provide enough room for any vehicle; the adjustment comes with getting used to the difference.
The reverse diagonal parking has been implemented to create more parking, as well as with a view toward safety. Reverse diagonal parking is safer, due to better visibility for the driver when the car pulls out of the parking space. It is also easier to back into a space than to parallel park. Avon did not invent this type of parking and it has proven to be a great success in other communities around the country. Reverse diagonal parking reduces accidents involving oncoming motorists or bicyclists and allows for quicker entry into traffic flow. Learning that there are many benefits to this type of parking, we, the council, wanted to test it and will be monitoring whether it meets the objectives planned.
The changes to West Beaver Creek Boulevard are so different that it will take a period of adjustment. Drive the boulevard, walk it and ride the new bike lanes. Please keep in mind, as you test it, that the changes have are an experiment and that the intent is to create a safer environment for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. The Town Council will review the results of the striping plan this fall and we welcome your comments. You can find more information about the plans for West Beaver Creek Boulevard on the town’s website, http://www.avon.org.
Jennie Fancher is the mayor of Avon.