Pitkin County wants to be bike friendly, just not officially
Pitkin County government leaders agreed last week that they want the roads and trails under their management to be bike friendly, just not in the official sense.
Citing the costs and staff time it would take to garner a Bike Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists, staffers from the county’s Open Space and Trails Department convinced county commissioners that it’s a goal currently not worth pursuing. Colorado has 20 communities with the designation, including Aspen and Carbondale. Summit County is the only Colorado county deemed a Bike Friendly Community.
“Our goal is to be bike friendly, but through policy and improvements as we move forward,” said Gary Tennenbaum, assistant director for Open Space and Trails.
To become a Bike Friendly Community, the county would need to meet a number of criteria in the areas of engineering, education, enforcement, evaluation and planning. Improvements and additions for consideration would include the creation of a bicycle advisory committee, a bicycle program manager, education and training, tracking cyclist crash data and a bike master plan, among other things.
It’s a mission to consider at a future time, but county officials agreed they can take other steps to enhance the cycling experience without trying to land the bike-friendly accolade.
“We’re a bike-friendly community,” Commissioner Rob Ittner said. “But the pursuit of this designation is not worth the time and energy to do all of this.”
Likewise, Commissioners George Newman and Michael Owsley said improved signage and widening roads could enhance the cycling experience. The county’s Public Works Department also applies a double-chip seal on its roads to make them smoother for cyclists.
A memo from Open Space and Trails to the county commissioners suggested as much, but noted Open Space money can’t be used for road projects, even “for a shoulder that would serve cyclists.”
“Much of our planning incorporates cyclists as one of our many user groups, but we do not have any planning at the county level dedicated to only cyclists’ needs,” the memo says. “This is not something included in staff work plans for the next five years and would require shuffling of projects if this becomes a priority.”
In the meantime, the county said it plans to install “share the road” signs on such popular biking routes as Castle Creek, Maroon Creek, McLain Flats, Upper River, Lower River, Woody Creek, Snowmass Creek, Capitol Creek and Frying Pan roads, along with Highways 82 and 133. The county also plans to create data on one of its websites, PitkinOutside.com, to provide profiles for the roads along with their surface types, shoulder information and other details.
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