There’s no need for a dangerous trail
August 13, 2012
Thank you, Open Space and Trails and Aspen’s Park Department, for taking the time to come out and explain the history, purpose and proposal for the new connection to the Hunter Creek Trail at the bottom of Red Mountain Road.
Visiting the site underscores the need to reconsider the logic of designing a connecting trail at this location since it crosses one of the most dangerous, heavily traveled roads in the county: at the bottom of Red Mountain Road. I feel regardless of the number of warnings, stop signs and blinking lights, there will always be fast-moving traffic coming down the steep incline, including heavy trucks and motorists who travel the road at high speeds, unable to slow down when weather conditions change, leaving vulnerable pedestrians and bikers at risk at this crossing.
Bikers typically do not want to get off their bikes. Whenever the coast is clear at intersections, they will try to beat the traffic without having to clip out of their peddles or having to dismount. Why put bikers and motorists at risk at this dangerous intersection when there is a safer crossing no farther than 50 yards to the east at Lone Pine Road?
We were told by the staff of Open Space and Trails that the lower Hunter Creek Trail is not used by bikers because they have the inconvenience of having to walk their bikes over tree roots and lift their bikes over stepped boardwalks and that it hardly makes for pleasurable bike rides. Hence, “they rarely use the trail.” This being true, why have a similarly difficult trail built that parallels this one and will be even more onerous to negotiate?
Bikers will have to ride up a ramp or push their bikes up to a platform, dismount, walk or ride across the busy Red Mountain Road, dismount, go down a 90-degree ramp on the other side and try to negotiate an equally difficult trail through a heavily forested wildlife corridor. Most likely this trail will not be used, either.
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For the time being, it would be a good idea for the board of Open Space and Trails to study whether this earmarked $250,000 can be more wisely spent on another project.
The Lone Pine Trail, which also crosses a road, is easily visible by motorists, is familiar to bikers, is already built and is closer to the post office (a reason Open Space and Trails cited as a need for another Hunter Creek Trail connection), and this trail is right off the Rio Grande Trail, serving as an excellent link.
While it is still undetermined whether $250,000 can be spent more wisely on another project, I suggest the board take a good long look at this, for I am sure there are other avenues and ways this expenditure could be spent and not on a duplicate trail that is dangerous to motorists and bikers alike.