Galena-Cooper living lab will end Sept. 26 with some features to remain in October |

Galena-Cooper living lab will end Sept. 26 with some features to remain in October

Downtown living-lab traffic experiment has been extended into October. The lab met backlash from Aspen's downtown business community.

The Living Lab bike lane, seen here on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, in downtown Aspen, has been a hot topic of discussion among locals and it looks like it will remain in place through at least October.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Editor’s note: The following story has been amended for the purpose of clarification and accuracy.

The downtown living-lab will end as originally billed on Sept. 26 after the Aspen City Council agreed Tuesday to keep certain elements of it intact through October, while also agreeing to eliminate the counterflow lanes for cyclists and pedestrians.

The council also agreed to change the parking configuration after Sept. 26 by replacing parallel parking with angle parking on the east side of Galena Street through Cooper Avenue; parallel parking will remain in place on the west side.

The living lab was introduced in late June as part of the city’s effort to slow down traffic and make the three-block stretch from Galena Street to Cooper Avenue to Hunter Street safer and more accessible for cyclists and pedestrians.

The project also reduced Hyman Avenue from two-way traffic to one-way between Galena and Hunter. A pedestrian walkway and a one-way bike lane were added in the opposite flow of traffic. Angle parking was replaced with parallel parking. And, a three-way stop sign was installed at the intersection of Galena Street and East Hopkins Avenue.

The council is scheduled Nov. 1 to get a look at data collected from the experiment to see if it’s worth making permanent, modifying or going back to the old way.

Keeping the one-block of Hyman one way could be counterproductive, said Mayor Torre.

“I still question Hyman street as a one-way between Hunter and Galena,” Mayor Torre said. “Having that as two-way allows traffic on Galena to exit that street before they get to that turn (at Cooper Avenue). In other words, it funnels everything on Galena.”

The lab met backlash from Aspen’s downtown business community.

Speaking on behalf of the Commercial Core & Lodging Commission, which is an advisory board to the city, board chair Jeb Ball said the businesses had little influence on the city’s living lab before it debuted.

The CCLC met with 190 businesses in the downtown core and asked them five questions about the lab, Ball said. The answers left no doubt about their sentiment — 189 out of 190 respondents said they did not believe the lab improves safety for pedestrians and bikers; 187 didn’t favor the parking arrangements. The survey’s best showing for the lab was the 23 respondents who supported one-way traffic on the one block of Hyman; the other 157 were opposed.

“You can clearly see the feedback was negative as of the time we asked these questions,” Ball said.

The questions were asked in July when the experiment was in its first full month, and business operators were upset the city didn’t heed their suggestions. If the same questions are asked in October, the responses might not be as fierce in opposition, he said, noting that 500 comments from business operators, most all of them negative, were included in the findings.

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