Guest opinion: How will the bridge closure go? It’s up to you
July 16, 2017
Most of you whippersnappers are too young to remember my first crush, Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger. Every Saturday I was glued to the television, and at the end of each episode, he and his wife, Dale Evans, would sing "Happy Trails" as they rode off into the sunset.
"Some trails are happy ones,
"Others are blue.
"It's the way you ride the trail that counts,
"Here's a happy one for you."
Ah, the good ole days!
Fast forward a few years … to 2017, with a huge infrastructure project rising in the middle of our city. As most of you know, in four weeks the old Grand Avenue bridge will be closed as the last section of the new bridge is completed. Glenwood faces 95 days of a huge, unprecedented detour requiring a reduction in vehicular traffic by 35 percent. At that, we will still face significant delays and overwhelming congestion.
The detour route will be at capacity, with extended time required to go anywhere. As people move out of their vehicles and seek alternate ways to move about, we are bound to see more walkers, bicyclists and skateboarders on our trails, more bicyclists on our streets and roads and more pedestrians on our sidewalks.
What is the result? The outcome depends on the actions and reactions of each of us. It will be a chance for Glenwood to show our best small-town character to the world. Believe me, folks will be watching. During the bridge closure, everyone needs to be patient, be courteous and be aware. "It's the way you ride the trail that counts . . ."
Be patient. Be courteous. Be aware.
The city of Glenwood is kicking off a four-week campaign leading up to the bridge closure with the message of be patient, be courteous and be aware. Each week the city's website will offer information and a survey. Complete each survey and sign a pledge to be patient, aware and courteous, and you will be eligible for some great prizes. Surveys may also be completed in City Hall, if you don't have access to a computer.
Here is a taste of what to expect:
Be aware. Chief Terry Wilson is reporting a greater number of crashes lately. The main reason; distracted drivers. Many of us try to multitask by driving and texting, checking email or just talking. Don't do it. It will be more important than ever to be aware of what is going on around you.
Be courteous. There will be more buses, bicycles and walkers. If you are in your car, be mindful of these. Bicyclists have as much right to the road as cars, and they must follow the same traffic rules. If you are parallel parked, check for oncoming bicyclists before opening your car door. Bicycle riders, wear bright clothing to be more visible. Avoid weaving in and out of traffic or making sudden changes from sidewalk and road. Know and use hand signals.
Be patient. Things will happen. Someone will suddenly slam on the brakes for a squirrel or try to merge from a parking lot or a car will turn and cut off a bicyclist they did not see and tempers will flare. Don't let it happen. Don't escalate situations. Take a deep breath. This will pass.
Be aware. Certain downtown areas are "dismount zones." This means that those on bicycles and skateboards should walk their wheels along these sidewalks. In these areas, bicyclists may want to consider riding on the road.
Be courteous. Walk to the right so that faster walkers and wheeled users can pass you on the left. Bicycles and skateboards are permitted on sidewalks where not prohibited and they should use verbal warnings or bells when passing.
Be patient. The sidewalks will be crowded with older people as well as small children. Share the sidewalk and give a friendly smile to others as you pass.
This one is my favorite since I love the song and our trails are going to get a significant amount of use.
Be aware. Walkers stay to the right and stay alert for those moving faster, whether other walkers or those on bikes or skateboards. Also be aware that trails will provide access for emergency services. If you have your earbuds in and are listening to Led Zeppelin, turn it down so you can hear what is happening around you. Equip your bicycles with headlights and taillights if possible. Walkers and bikers should avoid dark clothing at night.
Be courteous. Dogs must be on a leash that is no longer than 6 feet. The city has authorized the use of electric bikes on city trails. This does not extend to ATVs, scooters or motorcycles. Whether you are running late or just out for fun, the maximum speed is 20 mph for bicycles.
Just like the roads, you should adjust your speed for conditions and traffic. Keep right except to pass and always give a verbal "on your left" warning or ring your bell before passing. If you are stopped, please move off the trail.
Be patient. Many bikers and walkers will be using our trails for the first time. We will all need time to adjust to the new conditions we will be facing. Our trails are for the use of everyone.
Let's keep our trails, roads and sidewalks "Happy Trails" and remember that "it's the way you ride that counts." Don't forget to complete the surveys and fill out the pledge for some great prizes.
"Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then."
Kathryn Trauger is a Glenwood Springs City Council member.