Honks and finger flips
August 29, 2007
(Editor’s note: Our regular Thursday columnist Alison Berkley is taking the week off.)I know of no one who believes the safety of pedestrians, particularly students, should be compromised.A judge will rule on Sept. 11 not on whether there should be a trail. He will rule on whether the rules for presenting the trail to the public were followed. If not, the various governing agencies responsible will presumably begin a review process and we will all get to say something. This “say” is sometimes called babel. On all sides.In anticipation of the ruling, some of the discussion points have been: Taxpayers are spending $2.2 million on a bike-pedestrian trail seven-tenths of a mile long, principally used by music students for nine weeks of the year. The students have used (and use) regular RFTA bus service to town – various stop choices. They have a van of their own. They could have another. Maybe two others. Cyclists will also use this trail. No ID will have to be presented vouching for skill. The trail will be 4 feet wide, plus a guardrail on one side and a fence on the other. The average cyclist has a 40-inch wingspan. The average student has the same shoulder spread but doesn’t have handlebars. No one has had the temerity to measure a nun’s skirt on a windy day. Trail regulations do not specify who jumps the fence if two students are walking side by side and a bike opposes them. Or two bikes and two students. Students will be jailed if they use their fiddle cases as ninja weapons. (Extradition rules for Asian students are yet to be reviewed.) All other trails of this multipurpose use are legislated to be 8-plus feet wide. The reason is anything less is deemed dangerous. The governing agencies never brought this to the attention of the public. Some believe Castle Creek cyclists are being slighted. No study has been made of how many trees would have to be axed if the trail is pursued. The figure remains in the eyes of some as “top secret.” A good deal of supporting stone will be necessary, less the whole enterprise collapse towards homes and the creek. Some regard this substructure when seen from their windows as unsightly. There has never been an accident involving the death or injury of a student in 50 years. No public forum has been conducted on whether there is SAFER protection for pedestrians. (Widening the road, painting a line, increasing curb width, requiring students to walk single file, diets for tuba players, etc.) No accounting has been given as to how many students or cylists would use this seven-tenths of a mile trail if it existed. Independent studies of the trail on Cemetery Lane (8 feet) reveal it is consistently ignored by cyclists. There have been many exchanges observed of horn honks and finger flips. On the day before it authorized the trail, the government asked the Aspen Music Festival and School and Country Day School if they would contribute to the cost. Not many expected a prompt response, or a minor contribution. There has been no public disclosure. In their defense it has been written these are, after all, nonprofits. It has been suggested that the trail would be good as an “Aspen experience” for pedestrians. Some believe that experience is now the inhalation of gas fumes or, if a winter plow goes by, to have gravel and slush freshly sprayed on the body … and on a good day, the face. Incidentally, the trail will not be plowed in the winter.Do I want an open forum? Yes. Do you?Bob Rafelson is a resident of Aspen.
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