Aspen needs back-up plan for drivers

Carolyn Sackariason’s story of the move toward bikes and pedestrians and the elimination of more parking in the core describes a flawed theory (“Bikes and pedestrians over cars envisioned for busy downtown Aspen corridor,” Nov. 29, The Aspen Times).

Bikes often just aren’t practical for many in the winter and certainly not for the hillside residents like many of us in Aspen Grove and Mountain Valley. We drive to town when we have a car full of friends who can’t bike up the hills in summer and through the snow in winter. So do most. Otherwise we take the dial-a-ride. But that alternative is only reliable in shoulder and offseasons. At peak season, the dial-a-ride is often overwhelmed. It loads in Mountain Valley and often skips Aspen Grove because its “too full.” Some drivers refuse to drive up McSkimming because the driver was “afraid of the road” or it “takes too long” or “it’s too icy.” Leaving us at the bottom in ski boots just isn’t a risk we can take.

So we drive.

No one at RFTA seems to understand the issue of tourism seasonality. No one in charge of parking seems to equate the removal of parking with the need to increase or reinforce alternatives like the dial-a-ride so they are reliable at all times of year.

I don’t think social engineering works. Pushing people of all ages to bikes, winter, summer, hills and flats by eliminating parking just doesn’t work. Tourists and even some longtime residents have no idea how to use the crosstown shuttle or similar options. But if you are hellbent on doing it, at least make a better accommodation, when tourism peaks, for those of us in the hillside communities.

Hugh Kling