Letter: Help keep tourists safe riding on Vail Pass
Vail is opening up again. Whether from out-of-town or out-of-state, tourists are coming again. It was obvious to anyone visiting the village this past weekend. The ghost town of the new normal is giving way to the hustle-and-bustle of the old normal.
So as Vail opens up, this is an open plea to all the companies that haul tourists and the bikes they rent to the top of Vail Pass. I don’t think any of us who regularly ride up the pass begrudge these tourists the thrill of riding down. Think of the tales they can tell back home. Some might even forget to mention that they only rode in one direction.
But the stories will surely be more positive if their rides don’t end at Vail Health. And if, because they do something wrong as they’re flying down, those of us riding up don’t land there either.
So please tell your drivers, your guides, every employee who interacts with these tourists, that when they release your customers and their bikes at the top, they should give them a few rules of the road. I’ve had too many close calls in the past when they’ve been ignored.
First, where there’s a painted yellow line along the upper part of the path — just like the solid double line along a blind curve on a two-lane highway — stay on your side of it, in a single file. Second, when there is no line, still ride down in a single file. Third, if you stop on the path to take pictures, or just to take in the scenery, get off the pavement immediately and take your bike off it too. Fourth, when you come to the gates at both the top and the bottom of the path, those of us pushing uphill (just like a hiking trail) have the right of way; you don’t. And don’t try to beat us to the opening; it’s not wide enough for two. Fifth? Make sure your kids know all this too.
Finally, to those of you in bike shops who rent out e-bikes, it would be nice if you tell your renters that it would be helpful to say “On your left” before they blast past us on our left, to reduce the shock when they go flying up the hill twice as fast as the rest of us.
Oh yes, one more thing about safety: on most of the rental bikes, I’ve seen in Vail itself the past week or so, riders aren’t wearing helmets. Not smart, and while they might not know that, the people helping them in the bike shops should. What it tells me is, no one has strongly recommended to tourists that when they get a bike, they should get a helmet too. It’s in your interest, and your customers, that you do a better job of that.