City explores ‘restaurant row’ as a one-way street

The City of Aspen is exploring converting part of Hopkins Avenue to a one-way street in order to add a bike lane.

City officials are proposing to turn “restaurant row” in downtown Aspen into a one-way street by eliminating 13 parking spots on that block.

The changes are part of a plan to better accommodate bicycles and reduce traffic congestion. If approved by City Council, Hopkins Avenue would become a one-way street from Mill to Aspen streets heading west. The stretch would become all parallel parking, and a dedicated bike lane would be created.

Two additional parking spots would be eliminated between Monarch and Aspen streets on Hopkins as part of the latest plan.

Mitch Osur, the city’s parking director, said it is a compromise to the original plan of eliminating 97 spaces and making Hopkins Avenue one-way from Monarch to Spring streets.

That idea, which was unveiled in January, enraged business owners who run retail shops and restaurants. The stretch would have become parallel parking and have dedicated bike lanes, as would Galena Street and Cooper Avenue.

A second iteration became a loss of 51 spaces, but that didn’t satisfy business owners, either.

“With the uproar from businesses, which we understand, it’s a way to show that the city is listening,” Osur said. “If we had our way, we would go to Spring Street.”

The Aspen Chamber Resort Association is holding a listening session from 10 a.m. to noon today on the second floor of the fire station so the public can weigh in.

“We’re looking for input and suggestions,” Osur said. “We think this should be palatable.”

Osur said he and other city staff will consider the feedback given today and then host a series of listening sessions with specific business groups the week of March 12. An open house will be planned for later this month. City staff is scheduled to bring a plan to council April 2.

The proposal is part of what the city is calling “Aspen Shifts Gears,” which is designed to make biking in town safer and more appealing.

The latest idea serves as an extension of the bike/pedestrian route on Hopkins Avenue that begins at Seventh Street.