Ride the Rockies tour could ride Rio Grande | AspenTimes.com

Ride the Rockies tour could ride Rio Grande

Not all special events are created equal in the eyes of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.RFTA’s staff is advising its board of directors to prohibit special events on the Rio Grande Trail, but it is considering an exception for the Ride the Rockies bicycle tour. The board is scheduled to take up the matter at its monthly meeting Thursday.”Given current staff constraints and resources, staff recommends that the Board adopt a policy of not allowing special events on the Rio Grande Trail,” says a memo from the staff to the board.However, before that policy even reaches the floor for debate, the staff is recommending an exception to the rule. The staff will urge the board Thursday to allow the Ride the Rockies bicycle tour to use the portion of the Rio Grande that it manages, RFTA Chief Executive Officer Dan Blankenship said Tuesday night.Ride the Rockies is an annual bicycle tour through the Colorado mountains. A different route is selected each year. This year’s tour will bring 2,000 riders through the Roaring Fork Valley on Thursday, June 21.The tour organizers want to use the Rio Grande from Carbondale to Old Snowmass to keep the cyclists off Highway 82. Pitkin County Open Space and Trails is recommending against allowing use of the trail from the old Emma school house to Old Snowmass, the stretch which it manages.RFTA manages the stretch from Carbondale to Emma. Blankenship said he understands concerns of the open space program about that many users riding a narrow, sometimes twisty trail, but the same issues might not exist for RFTA’s stretch of the route.”Our trail is wider and pretty much straight everywhere,” Blankenship said. The trail is on the old Rio Grande railroad right of way.The recommendations create the possibility that riders could use the Rio Grande from Carbondale to Emma with RFTA’s permission, then be forced to use Highway 82 from Emma to Old Snowmass based on Pitkin County’s recommendation.Blankenship said RFTA is willing to make an exception for Ride the Rockies for use of the trail because the event is well organized and posts workers at key spots on the route. Events that aren’t as well organized might require significantly more RFTA staff time to monitor.The staff memo, written by RFTA Director of Properties and Trails Mike Hermes and reviewed by Blankenship, doesn’t mention that Ride the Rockies should be exempt from the prohibition from the ban on special events. The reason can best be described as the staff playing it safe.”[Hermes] probably just wanted to leave the door open,” said Blankenship.The RFTA board will have final say on the policy for special events on the trail and an exception for Ride the Rockies.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com

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