News in Brief | AspenTimes.com

News in Brief

ASPEN ” The proliferation of gas-powered scooters this summer in Aspen has prompted a reminder from the city parks department: Stay off the trails.

Earlier this month, Aspen police issued a reminder to scooter drivers regarding the rules of the road, which is where the gas-powered vehicles belong, according to parks officials. Instead, a fair number of them have been spotted zipping along the city’s trail system, meant solely for nonmotorized users ” primarily pedestrians and bicyclists.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase this year in this sort of violation,” said Austin Weiss, city trails coordinator.

Scooters can go 35 or 40 mph, and don’t belong on the trails, Weiss said. The concern is safety, though no collisions involving scooters on trails have been reported so far, he said.

“When you have a larger, heavier vehicle moving at a pretty good clip, it’s a lot worse than getting hit by a bike,” Weiss said.

Scooter drivers on the trails will be ticketed if they’re caught, and face fines of up to $75 for a first offense and $150 for a second offense. Parks maintenance workers, who are allowed to drive carts on the paths, often spot the violators, but can’t actually catch them in the motorized carts, Weiss said.

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Scooter use is permitted on city streets, and drivers must be at least 16 years old and possess a valid driver’s license. A motorcycle license is not necessary for a gas scooter that has an engine smaller than 50cc. Scooters are required to be registered and insured, though, according to the police.

Scooter users may consider the city/county trails ” including the Rio Grande Trail, the trail system at Marolt and adjacent to the golf course, and the trail up to the school campus/Aspen Recreation Center ” safer than driving on the roads, but the road is where they belong, Weiss said.

ASPEN ” Congressman Mark Udall, a Democrat campaigning to take the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Wayne Allard, will be in Aspen this week to raise a little money.

“It’s going to be a very expensive race,” remarked Udall’s campaign manager, Mike Melanson, on Tuesday, characterizing the Aspen event on Thursday as “a low-dollar fundraiser,” where invitees will be asked to give anywhere from $100 to $500. The event is to be at the home of Blanca and Cavanaugh O’Leary.

When Udall, who lives in Eldorado Springs, announced his candidacy in April, the Denver Post reported he already had $1.5 million in campaign funds and that he estimated he will have to spend up to $10 million to win. If predictions are correct and the race costs $20 million, it would be the most expensive race in the state’s history.

Melanson said Udall will be in Aspen only for the evening event and will make no public appearances. He is to attend the annual summer convention of the Colorado Water Congress on Friday, Melanson said, adding that the campaign is not expected to begin in earnest until after the first of the year.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Three men arrested in connection with the shooting of a Glenwood Springs police officer were all accused previously in motor vehicle theft cases.

Sergio Esteban Ramirez and Mauricio Villa Garcia Pena both entered guilty pleas in connection with a Jan. 12 motor vehicle theft case. Ramirez, Garcia Pena and other defendants were accused in a case involving stealing a Ford F150 pickup truck, four-wheeling with it and crashing it into a rock near Rifle, then stealing a black Ford Mustang and four-wheeling with it until it became stuck, according to probation reports.

Anthony Villegas was arrested on suspicion of an earlier motor vehicle theft in December 2006 at the West Glenwood Springs 7-Eleven on Highway 6.

Villegas appears on Thursday for arraignment in the theft case. Police have said they believe he knows something about the July 29 officer shooting.

Ramirez appears in court Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. for formal filing of charges in the officer shooting case. (Glenwood Springs Post Independent)