Vail biker wants more light |

Vail biker wants more light

Melanie Wong
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Theo Stroomer/Vail DailyKaren Kross wants Eagle County to add lighting to the bicycle path between Avon and Vail so that it is safer to ride at night.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. ” Karen Kross can hear the sound of the rushing creek and traffic speeding by on the interstate, but she can’t see a thing.

Kross, who commutes by bike a few times a week from Vail Village to Avon, said she started riding instead of driving to save money on gas. However, since she does not leave work until 9 p.m. some nights, it can be a harrowing commute, she said.

The section of path going through Dowd Junction and into Eagle-Vail is especially dark, even though she has both front and rear lights on her bike, she said.

“It’s just really, really dark. I feel like I could easily bump into the wall or run into the river,” she said.

Kross said she would like to see the area lit or at least lined with reflectors for night riders.

“Once someone said hello to me, and I never even saw that someone was there,” she said. “It could have been friendly, but I took it as a threat. It was very startling being a woman in this situation.”

She can’t take the bus home in the evening either ” buses will not take bikes at night because they block the headlights, Kross said.

ECO Trails and the town of Vail, which maintain that portion of the trails, said the number of nighttime riders don’t justify the cost of lighting the path.

“At night I would think very few people use it,” said ECO Trails Director Elie Caryl. “It’d be pretty expensive.”

For people who do ride at night, Caryl said she recommends using multiple or stronger lights.

Also, the path runs through U.S. Forest Service land through important wildlife habitat and along the creek, meaning there are strict regulations as to what can be done to the path, said Gregg Barrie, landscape architect for the town of Vail.

But some local bicyclists said they think lights could be a good idea to encourage people not to drive.

“I think we’ll see a lot more people on the bike paths with higher gas prices,” said Edwards resident Robert Barker. “With the higher (bike) traffic, they need to keep the trails swept and maintained.”

Other riders said they would be happy if the trail would just stay open.

Because of construction at the Cascade, part of the Vail recreation path is closed. The not-so-obvious detour leads bikers down a gravely slope, around a corner and back onto the path.

More construction work on the skier bridge behind the hotel means the path will remain closed for the remainder of the summer, Caryl said.

Pam Kross, Karen Kross’ mother, said she enjoys the ride on the path from Dowd Junction into the Village. The path should stay open in the summer season, she said.

“A lot of my girlfriends and I like to ride into Vail for lunch,” she said. “At our age, we’re not young enough to adapt to suddenly speeding up or a wayward car. It’s very uncomfortable for us to have to go on (Frontage Road).”

Venture Sports bike manager Brian Martinson said the shop takes tourists on bike tours up to Vail Pass, and the closures can be a bother.

“It is difficult with construction. We’ll try to send the groups on the Frontage Road for those portions,” he said.

However, he added that personally when he and other local cyclists go through Vail, they always take the Frontage Road the entire way.

“It’s better if you’re trying to get from point A to B,” she said. “I consider the paths here more recreational paths. It’s not really the best for a road bike.”

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