Council moves to help pedestrians |

Council moves to help pedestrians

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen is hoping flashing lights at four Highway 82 intersections will help pedestrians cross the busy thoroughfare without risking life and limb, especially at night.

The City Council endorsed the concept Tuesday. The “pedestrian-actuated beacons” will flash at traffic in both directions on either side of the crosswalk when someone pushes the button on the pole to activate them.

The city of Boulder installed them and reported an increase in driver compliance ” motorists stopping for pedestrians ” of 30 to 100 percent, according to a staff memo.

The beacons, at an estimated cost of $40,000 for all four signals, are but one step council members endorsed to improve pedestrian safety on Main Street, which is also Highway 82. The intersections pegged for the beacons are at Eighth Street, Fourth Street, Garmisch Street and Hopkins Avenue.

“We do say we’re pedestrian-friendly, all the time … the problem, especially on Main Street, is it just ain’t true,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud.

She also pushed staffers to talk with the Colorado Department of Transportation about making changes to the signal lights at the intersection of Mill and Main streets, where pedestrians are directed to walk at the same time traffic is directed to make right turns across the crosswalks.

“I am truly surprised that no one has been killed or seriously injured yet at that intersection,” Klanderud said.

Council members also agreed they’d like some beefed-up signs to stress that pedestrians have the right of way, but balked at a $60,000 median in the middle of Main Street at the Fourth Street intersection. The median would eliminate the ability to make left turns off Main at the intersection, but would provide a safe refuge for pedestrians who’ve made it halfway across the four-lane highway.

“I think the median is an expensive investment that wouldn’t make much difference,” said Councilman Tim Semrau.

Councilman Terry Paulson urged the police to spend more time on Main Street.

“What’s missing is enforcement,” he said. “We never seem to accomplish the big enchilada here.”

Councilwoman Rachel Richards lobbied for more raised crosswalks coupled with striping that doesn’t wear off in a month.

The council also agreed to look at better lighting, whether it’s more street lights in dark stretches or brighter ones.

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