Plan ahead, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office urges |

Plan ahead, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office urges

People walk about downtown under the lights as groomers work on the ski runs above on Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, in Aspen. (Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The holidays have arrived, and, with them, crowds of people walking the streets of downtown. Icy roads — combined with crowded sidewalks and the occasional person who may have enjoyed one too many drinks — can lead to catastrophe.

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office sticks with the same message each year during the busy times: Plan head.

“If you’re going to be out celebrating, we encourage you to find other transportation options to get home, so you’re not on the roads if you’ve been out to dinner and had a few more drinks than you thought you would,” Pitkin County Chief Deputy of Operations Parker Lathrop said. “We like to have people plan ahead.”

Christmas will not stop the Sheriff’s Office from patrolling the roads and enforcing drunken-driving laws.

“We want to keep the roads as safe as we can,” Lathrop said.

Local law enforcement also encourages people to police themselves and be extra aware of their surroundings.

Visitors to town provide another hazard for other visitors and locals, alike. Many out-of-towners are unfamiliar with the roads and sidewalks already, and adding snowy road conditions only creates more of a hazard.

“Don’t jump on that green light and start driving because maybe the person at the red light is too busy looking at scenery to see it changed to red for them,” Lathrop said. “Just be a little more aware of the cars around you.”

Another hazard to be aware of is wildlife. Elk and deer have been frequenting Highway 82 and McLain Flats Road in the evenings as they transition between habitats, Lathrop said.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the best way to travel up and down valley is the bus system.

“We strongly encourage you to leave the car at home, hop on the bus and take it into town. Once you’re in town, being on foot is great,” Lathrop said.

Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus schedules will have no schedule changes during the holidays. VelociRFTA BRT operates seven days a week with services every 15 minutes during peak and 30 minutes during off-peak times. The Grand Hogback, which has services to Rifle, New Castle, and Silt, will operate seven days a week with increased services. City of Aspen shuttles operate seven days a week, from 6:20 a.m. to 2 a.m. Snowmass Village and Woody Creek Services operate seven days a week and have additional Snowmass-Valley services.

Another local service people have available to them is Tipsy Taxi. Tipsy Taxi offers free rides home to anyone who has no other way to avoid drunken driving. The service operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. According to the Pitkin County Community Information Website, in its 13 years of continual operation, the service has given more than 20,000 safe rides home. The program was introduced in 1983.

Tipsy Taxi can be accessed through any local bar or restaurant or by calling local law enforcement. Tipsy Taxi provides vouchers and drives as far as Rifle. The voucher allows you to pick up your car the next day and flags your vehicle, so it is not towed or ticketed. It’s a “consequence-free” way of getting home safely after drinking one too many, Lathrop said.

If there are any questions about transportation, Lathrop said the Sheriff’s Office and police departments would rather have people call them ahead of time than deal with the consequences of not.

“You do nobody any good if you don’t arrive, so just plan ahead, and get there at a relaxed pace. It’s not always a race,” Lathrop said.