Businesses support one-way experiment |

Businesses support one-way experiment

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Although there have been some grumblings about changes to the commercial core this summer, some downtown workers feel the one-way street test might enhance the Aspen shopping experience.

“I think it’s going to be a fun experiment,” said Nancy Nichols, an employee at Chepita jewelry store on Cooper Avenue.

Nichols noted if the city can make the change successfully on a busy street such as Cooper, it should be able to figure out how to safely convert other, less-busy thoroughfares in the future.

Jeff Luft, the district manager of another Cooper storefront, Optica, also favored expanding the one-way district, if this summer’s experiment proves successful.

“We live in a city where we can do little experiments like that,” he said.

On May 6, the Aspen City Council approved a project that temporarily will convert the portion of the downtown core into one-way streets. City officials say the new one-way streets ” which will be located on Galena Street between Hopkins and Cooper avenues, and on the leg of Cooper between Galena and Hunter streets ” will create 20 additional parking spaces.

Luft said that as long one-way streets are well marked, motorists should get used to it.

Melissa Stailey, store manger at the Optical Shop of Aspen on Galena Street, said the change will make the corner safer. She pointed out that the corner of Galena and Cooper is often congested with drivers trying to turn around and back out of or pull into parking spaces.

But not everyone thinks the city is doing enough to solve Aspen’s parking issues.

Kristin Loughman, manager of Theory Aspen on Galena Street, said while 20 more parking spaces might help solve downtown’s parking woes, the additions hardly will make it easier for her to find parking this summer. She said she’d like to see the City Council make a better effort to ease the transportation concerns of Aspen’s commuting employees, whether that means putting in a light-rail system or creating an employee parking permit similar to the residential parking permit.

“They don’t really seem to care about the people who work here and keep the stores open,” she said.

And while Nichols supported adding parking for tourists, a population that she thinks will always drive, she added she’d prefer to see the city consider creating more parking spots for scooters and bikes.

As for whether the new one-way restriction could harm business sales on Cooper Avenue and Galena Street, Luft said that if shoppers truly are using their cars to drive all the way to a store in Aspen, that’s a problem in and of itself.

“If they can’t walk from Eighth Street to Hunter Avenue, then we have bigger problems,” he pointed out.

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