Aspen officials want public opinion on pedestrian, bike safety

Survey on city website asks Aspen residents their thoughts on downtown core safety

City of Aspen officials want the public to weigh in on a plan that’s in the works to improve safety and mobility in the downtown core for pedestrians and bicyclists.

A presentation by the city’s engineering department to Aspen City Council is expected Aug. 23 and will include results of a survey that is on the municipal government’s website,

Council discussed safety in the downtown core in June and asked for public feedback before moving forward with a path of improved pedestrian and bicycle mobility.

“In that meeting the gist of it was, ‘How do we do it? How do we make it safer? What are the step by step pieces that we can take to make this community safer within the core?’” said Pete Rice, division manager in the city’s engineering department. “This survey is just to get an idea where the community values are right now.”

One step in the plan is to make Hyman Avenue between Galena and Hunter streets one-way so motorists can no longer turn left from Galena.

“What’s happening is people are looking to the left when they are making a left turn on Hyman, and they’re not necessarily viewing the pedestrians coming off the mall,” Rice said, adding that the idea will be presented to council at a work session later this month.

He said city officials have met with members of the business community, who recognize there is a safety issue at the intersection, as well as other locations in the downtown core.

That specific intersection was the location where a 5-year-old girl was killed by a motorist in 2020 as she walked across the street with her family.

Acknowledging that bicycles are disconnected from the downtown core and are not given accommodation on many streets, Galena could have dedicated bike lanes as part of incremental changes being made.

If council agrees to the concept, the changes would occur next spring.

Other changes, like shifting parking spaces to parallel instead of angle, installing more bike lanes and allowing more public right-of-way space for restaurants also are being contemplated.

But nothing will be done in one fell swoop, said City Engineer Trish Aragon, noting that the Hyman Avenue change is one aspect of a larger mobility and safety plan.

“We want to try this out incrementally,” she said. “We want the community to try it and test it out and see what they think of it, and we’ll get that feedback and then council will decide where to take this next.”