Letter: Making Aspen more walkable
Aspen can be a busy place for a small mountain town. There are all sorts of users sharing and crossing our streets, including pedestrians, automobiles, bicyclists, dogs, delivery personnel, waste haulers and more. Amidst all this activity, pedestrians and bicyclists may feel the most vulnerable to the dangers of the crowded roads and crosswalks. Motorists driving through the downtown core also are likely to feel the challenges of navigating through a multi-use space.
As a community, we cherish the environment and our historic character, but our streets and sidewalks could serve all users better if we can envision how they can work for everyone more safely, efficiently and creatively. As it is now, we sometimes find ourselves avoiding them and a lot of our public right of ways are left underutilized.
The city of Aspen asks residents about these topics through the annual citizen survey, and to no one’s surprise, pedestrian safety and bike-friendly transportation options are rated as high concerns every year. What if we could address these concerns while making the city streetscapes more inviting and harmonious with different modes of transportation? That’s what City Council was envisioning when it made prioritizing pedestrian access and safety downtown as a top ten goal this year. Specifically, the council wants staff to perform an assessment of city streets and create a list of tools and test projects to illustrate what a walkable city might look like. We are calling this project Rethink the Street.
We’d like to make the city calmer with more and varied places to walk and gather. We believe we have an opportunity to use innovative designs and ideas to make the core more pedestrian friendly and economically vital by improving places for people to linger, shop, walk around, bike and visit. By rethinking some basic designs, we can make our streetscapes not just thoroughfares to get from A to B, but places to be and enjoy Aspen at a more leisurely pace.
Most importantly, we want you to engage in this experiment. Come tell us how you would like to see the streets and sidewalks change or not, where our priority spots should be and what other ideas you have. Take a walk across town and think about the calm spots as well as the hectic spots and what makes them different.
Look for a team of city staff stationed next to Wagner Park on Thursday, April 2 and May 28 from 12 to 2 p.m. You also can leave your comments and thoughts on Open City Hall at http://www.aspenpitkin.com.
Engaging the public is the first step in making Aspen more walkable. We look forward to your input.
Management Analyst, city of Aspen
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