Vail Daily column: Get rid of frontage parking?
July 30, 2016
The following is an excerpt from a report by the Vail Homeowners Association board of directors. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com.
The Vail Town Council has finally recognized that serious public safety issues are being caused by Frontage Road parking. The council voted recently to install flashing pedestrian crossing caution signs and designated crosswalks at a few points along the frontage road. Putting aside the aesthetics of such signs, an issue raised by some, the question remains, will these steps be effective or cause more traffic congestion?
The biggest drawback to crosswalks is that if there are too many, they could obstruct traffic on the community's main thoroughfare and result in backups and rear end collisions as motorists brake for crossing pedestrians, especially along the frontage roads which were never designed nor intended to accommodate on-street parking or large numbers of pedestrians randomly crossing from one side of the road to the other. Experience teaches that when crosswalks are the most direct route, pedestrians will use them, otherwise, they will not. How pedestrians have been getting to and from their cars when parked on the Frontage Road illustrates the ineffectiveness of crosswalks in these circumstances. And it's highly questionable whether more crosswalks would solve the problem.
Even worse could be the effect of signalized pedestrian crosswalks at roundabouts. Roundabouts are intended to maintain the continuous flow of traffic. Halting that traffic for pedestrian crossovers will snarl traffic. This is especially so when the roundabouts reach carrying capacity, which seems to be happening with greater frequency at the main Vail roundabout. Building those kinds of crosswalks would be a costly undertaking, and there is no reason to believe they would be any more effective in reducing or eliminating the public safety hazards that on-street parking causes.
Some have proposed reducing speed limits on overflow parking days or providing safety personnel to help assist guests cross the road. Putting aside the intergovernmental issues involved in creating the infrastructure to support variable speed limits, especially if it were to involve flashing signs as some have suggested, that too would be a costly undertaking as would assembling safety patrols. Even then, covering the entire length of South Frontage Road would be a huge challenge.
The only effective way to eliminate the danger of haphazard pedestrian crossings is by eliminating parking on the frontage roads. According to the recent town survey, that step would be favored by many since frontage road parking is the least favored form of parking. But to do so requires more public parking facilities.
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The Vail Homeowners Association board is Gail Ellis, president; Judith Berkowitz, secretary; Rob Ford, treasurer; and directors Jamie Duke, John Gorsuch, John Lohre, Andres Nevares, Trygve Myhren, Larry Stewart and Doug Tansill.
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