Glenwood looks to legalize Segway use on city trails
July 21, 2012
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A complaint about a popular summertime attraction for Glenwood Springs visitors that makes use of city trails has posed a bit of a quandary for the City Council.
Technically, the patented two-wheeled, electric-powered personal transport devices known as Segways are considered a motorized vehicle under the Glenwood Springs municipal code.
All motorized vehicles are prohibited from using routes that show up on the city’s official trail map. That includes the Rio Grande Trail and the portion of the Glenwood Canyon Trail within city limits that heads to No Name.
It was a recent encounter on the canyon trail that prompted a citizen complaint and triggered a police enforcement action, Mayor Matt Steckler informed the council at the regular Thursday night meeting.
“To my knowledge, we’ve never gotten any complaints before,” Steckler said. “These devices have been used for this purpose for several years now, and it’s another way for tourists to get around and experience Glenwood Springs.”
The Segway tours have been offered through Glenwood Adventure Co. for the past three years, and for about three years prior to that by another outfitter, said Glenwood Adventure owner Ken Murphy.
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“We use them for sight-seeing,” he said. “It’s just another way to see the town in a short period of time, and show people what all there is to do here.”
The tours are led by a guide, so specific routes are always followed. The devices, which go about 5 to 7 miles per hour, are not rented out individually, Murphy said.
Steckler got support from the other council members to change the ordinance and allow an exemption for Segways and similar types of devices. Other types of motor vehicles would still be prohibited on trails.
“I don’t think we want motorcycles running up and down the trails,” Councilman Todd Leahy said.
But, any means for tourists to explore Glenwood Springs is something the city should endorse, Leahy said.
However, an ordinance change would take at least six weeks to accomplish, city attorney Jan Shute advised. That would leave the outfitter in violation in the meantime.
“I’d hate to see that much of the tourist season lost,” said Councilman Ted Edmonds.
“If it becomes a problem, we can deal with it,” Edmonds said, adding that if the tours continue in a “responsible” manner, he’s fine with it until the ordinance can be passed.
In other business at the July 19 meeting, council:
• OK’d the consent agenda, which included final approval of the city’s new ordinance allowing residents in certain parts of Glenwood Springs to keep backyard chickens by permit for personal use.
• Approved an ordinance on first reading giving the city manager and city council the authority to enact emergency fire restrictions when conditions warrant. The ordinance requires one day’s legal notice in the Post Independent before fire restrictions would take effect.
• Reauthorized a previous funding commitment for the Middle Colorado River Watershed Partnership project for $2,000 cash and $1,600 worth of in-kind support.
• Approved a loan term agreement for the Downtown Development Authority related to the parking garage project at Ninth and Cooper. The project is a joint effort between the DDA and the city government.
• Considered a fee waiver request for use of city facilities by the Three Rivers Little League youth baseball association and the Defiance Rugby Club. Council indicated that it cannot waive fees that are intended to recover the cost to maintain the facilities. But council members suggested the groups apply for city tourism or discretionary fund grants through the Financial Advisory Board, which could be used to offset the costs.