Birdies fly on Aspen’s racetrack
Dear Editor:I wandered out early the morning of July 20 to photograph the stillness and beauty of our mountain paradise. The great blue heron chicks and the young robins have already flown, but I spied an active magpie nest right next to Highway 82 and set up my camera.The magpies were shy that morning and I went home without a single picture – or so I thought. But, when I developed my photos and reviewed my field notes I discovered some interesting facts about, none other than, Aspen’s Ubiquitous Racing Bitumen Boobie.Field notes:• 7:17 a.m. to 7:54 a.m. 7/20/04• Of a total of 65 cars traveling uphill in one 37-minute time period, I recorded:• 50 (or 78 percent) flew by in excess of the 25-mph speed limit;• Six Excessive Boobies (9 percent) who flew by at 35-plus mph, at least 10 mph over the limit;• 13 Rushing Boobies (20 percent) flew by at 31 to 35 mph.• 31 Late Boobies (48 percent) flew by at 26 to 30 mph.• The Empty RFTA Shuttle Boobie went by twice at 29 and 31 mph. For consistency RFTA drives home the “Dubious Public Service?” prize.A local tradesman careened by at 39+ mph and because he (like many others I inadvertently photographed) accelerated up the hill, he wins the Red Faced Boobie Prize in our Speeder of the Day contest.All kidding aside, the section of Highway 82 east of Aspen is posted for 25 mph, yet 80 percent of drivers going up the hill today were speeding. For traffic coming down the hill the numbers get worse. Last fall Officer Dan Glidden told me that 99 percent of the cars traveling into Aspen were speeding. (99 percent!)The highway on this hill includes a gradual curve, which hides two or three lives just pulling onto Highway 82 from these intersections. Residents on Lacet Court and Lacet Lane tell me that they have witnessed vehicles going in excess of 60 mph past their homes and they fear for the young children that live along the road in this populated area. At least three dogs have been killed by speeding cars, and there have been near misses reported by pedestrians.Residents in this part of town have observed and reported the speeder problem to local authorities for at least four years. An Aspen police officer recently told me that he gives “educational lectures” to 97 percent of the people he stops for speeding, which means only 3 percent of the speeders get tickets. I think there is a misunderstanding that the speeders are tourists, and the local constables do not want to upset them. To my dismay, the vast majority of speeders I photographed were locals.The infrequent (but welcome) stakeout by a police officer is a present. The solution to the speeding problem includes, but is not limited to, the speed trap trailer (aka “drag race timer.”) temporarily parked on the hill.But what we really need here is for the city of Aspen and the highway department to improve the signs in both directions. Replace the ineffective, poorly placed, small signs with large prominent signs that promise tickets to speeders, and also say, “We aren’t kidding.”Since most people assume they can go 5 mph over the limit without penalty, we need to lower the speed limit to 20 mph. I would like to see permanent speed trap devices in place on this section of road. The town of Woodland Park has such a sign on its main street, which has worked effectively for many years. It is small, but effective.Finally, I would like to see the Aspen Police Department become more effective at speed limit enforcement. Until then, we’ll be seeing you at the races!Greg PoschmanAspen
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