No changes planned for bike use on ped bridge | PostIndependent.com

No changes planned for bike use on ped bridge

Pedestrians walk across the Grand Avenue pedestrian bridge during the Thursday evening rush hour.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

It will be status quo for now when it comes to people being able to pedal their way across the downtown Glenwood Springs pedestrian bridge.

Come next spring, though, bicyclists may be greeted with signs and other suggestions to take it slow and give pedestrians the right of way when crossing the new, wider, more observation-friendly bridge.

“This just seems like a solution looking for a problem, at least right now,” City Councilor Jonathan Godes said at the Thursday night meeting where the matter came before council for consideration.

“It doesn’t seem like something we need to address at this time, other than maybe a need for some signs. And those may be needed regardless of the situation,” he said.

Godes and other council members said they are not inclined to extend the downtown bicycle dismount rule to the pedestrian bridge, which the city, in working with the Colorado Department of Transportation as part of the large Grand Avenue Bridge Project, went to great lengths to design with bicycles in mind.

Councilor Shelley Kaup, who had said going into the meeting that she does have some safety concerns with bicycles and pedestrians interacting on the bridge, also acknowledged that it’s far from a crisis situation.

“We haven’t had any serious accidents that I know of, but we have had a few complaints,” she said, noting that she takes her bike across the pedestrian bridge quite frequently. She said there are times when she will get off her bike and walk, depending on how busy it is.

The high volume of foot and bike traffic on the bridge is likely to subside some starting next week when the new highway bridge is expected to open to traffic, City Manager Debra Figueroa pointed out. Since the bridge detour was put in place in August, the pedestrian bridge became a major route for bus commuters making their way to and from the bus drop north of the Colorado River and waiting shuttles on Seventh Street.

Steve Smith of Glenwood Springs Bicycle Advocates helped spearhead the bike trail ambassadors program during the detour. The vast majority of bicycle riders have been courteous when it comes to sharing city trails and the pedestrian bridge with those walking or using other modes of transportation, he said.

“Ninety percent of the riders are doing what you would want them to do,” Smith said, acknowledging that a few bike riders had to be reminded to slow down and be careful, especially early on during the detour period.

But the detour has also proven that using a bike can be a practical way to get around town for errands and getting to and from work or appointments, he said.

Smith said his group has been working on some possible structural improvements for the pedestrian bridge that might be considered to ensure better safety as the weather warms again next spring.