Bike riders pedal around Rifle to help with route plan
Citizen Telegram Editor
Along with listing where new bicycle routes and pedestrian trails would be a good idea in Rifle, around a dozen people took to the streets. Literally.
The city of Rifle’s transportation-oriented development strategic plan process on Friday, June 7, included a workshop, but a bike tour helped participants and officials get an “on the ground” idea of what might be possible.
And based on the results of the workshop alone, the possible additions of bike routes and trails ran the gamut.
Led by bicycle and pedestrian planner Terri Muser of Charlier Associates of Boulder, workshop participants crowded around large street maps of Rifle and surrounding areas. They used colored pens and pencils to draw in routes connecting streets, neighborhoods and public lands.
Suggestions included one from local developer Sally Brands, who also serves on the city’s Downtown Development Association and is an avid bike rider.
“I think it might be pretty easy to get old ditch right of ways and put paths along those,” Brands said. “That should be easier than trying to put trails and paths next to creeks and condos. I think you should be able to get a path all the way to the [Rifle Creek] golf course.”
Workshop participants split into two groups for about 45 minutes to come up with a list of their top projects. They included:
• Access to public lands north of Rifle Gap Reservoir;
• Loops around the city to access off-road trails;
• Brands’ suggestion of using old ditch right of ways;
• Coordinate mountain biking efforts with the Bureau of Land Management;
• Continue the Rifle Creek trail to Rifle Gap;
• Trail loops with signs for tourists;
• Better signage on the short paved trail that runs behind Walmart south of I-70;
• Start developing the already planned Lower Valley Trails Association trails in the Rifle area;
• Finish the trail behind Walmart east to the Garfield County Regional Airport and Mamm Creek;
• Improve Morrow Drive and 16th Street to allow room for cyclists; and
• Link Rifle Middle School to the adjacent Rifle Creek trail.
The bike tour included planned stops to see examples of, and discuss, trail planning, development opportunities, transportation enhancements and riverfront assets. Cyclists traveled north from the Rifle Branch Library to the Ninth Street link to the Rifle Creek trail, then back south to cross the Colorado River bridge and visit the Rifle rest area.
Muser said Rifle is working with the federal departments of Housing and Urban Development and Transportation, along with the Colorado Departments of Transportation and Local Affairs, to come up with a bike route and trails plan. A final plan is scheduled to be presented to the public in October, Muser said.
Muser explained some of the criteria planners use to help decide where to designate bike routes and trails, including the level of riding ability (advanced, who know how to commute in traffic and ride long distances; basic and child riders, who are less skilled than advanced riders and can be intimidated by riding in traffic).
“By far the biggest complaint we get everywhere, including Rifle, is the piecemeal approach the existing bike routes have taken,” Muser said. “There’s a short bike path here that doesn’t really go anywhere, there’s a bike route on this street or that road. But they aren’t connected.”
Bike riders want routes that are safe, convenient, comfortable and useful, she added.
Bike riding can be designated on streets shared with motor vehicles, on the paved shoulders of roadways, in bike lanes and bike routes, Muser said.
Riders are informed of such routes with stencil outlines of a bike on a street, as well as on street signs and in printed material, she added.
Bike lanes are usually found on higher volume and higher speed streets, Muser noted, and off-road multi-use trails can be paved or graveled.
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