A New Aspen, Colorado Bike Lane Aims to Improve Safety

A new Aspen, Colorado bike lane will be introduced in the city’s downtown area to improve safety for both bikers and pedestrians by creating a dedicated travel lane. Soon, people riding bicycles, scooters, and e-bikes—as well as walkers and joggers—will be able to take advantage of pedestrian lanes for their travel. Will these new bikes lane help or hurt residential and commercial areas?

Downtown Aspen will become much more cycle-centric

Cyclists riding in a protected bike lane
Bike lane | JAM STA ROSA/AFP via Getty Images

According to The Aspen Times, city officials will monitor travel and usage from the end of June through September to test their new project. They will also be able to make any necessary modifications and improvements before they make any permanent decisions. The new Aspen bike lane should introduce new levels of safety for commuters.

“The city of Aspen engineering department has been working with businesses in this area to listen to all concerns and identify how to make this area even safer. This living lab is the culmination of research, outreach and engineering best practices.”

Pete Rice, Aspen City Division Manager, Engineering Department

These changes will make biking in Aspen easier and safer for cyclists, though not everyone is happy. The Aspen Times reports that local business owners have voiced their concerns to the city while the new bike lane was in planning. 

What is the importance of bike lanes?

A cyclist riding on the sidewalk in lieu of a bike lane
A cyclist forced to ride on the sidewalk without a bike lane | Angelika Warmuth/picture alliance via Getty Images

Per the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition (PCSC), protected bike lanes “improve traffic safety for everyone, including drivers and pedestrians. That’s right, an extensive 13-year study of multiple cities around the US, conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado Denver and the University of New Mexico, found a dramatic reduction of road fatalities for all road users on streets that had protected bike lanes.”

As more and more people invest in electric bikes for their commuting and travel needs, it will become more important to create safe spaces for bicycle travel.

Having a dedicated, protected cycle lane and specific bike trails in a city helps to reduce the number of drivers on the road. This may vastly improve safety for people using the bike lane. Lanes that are clearly marked and, ideally, separated by a physical barrier can reduce the number of fatalities overall.

How much do bike lanes improve safety?

When both cyclists and drivers follow bike lane rules respectfully, dedicated pedestrian lanes can improve safety for all. One study found that something called the traffic calming effect plays a part in improving safety. 

According to the PCSC, “with protected bike lane street designs, traffic speeds are lowered, so when collisions do occur, they are far less likely to be fatal, and this protects everyone. Let’s face it, people make mistakes, but designing streets for slower speeds means fewer of those mistakes result in people dying.”

Just remember to always wear your helmet when riding.

Do bike lanes make traffic worse?

According to studies, bikes don’t slow down car traffic. In fact, having appropriate cycle lanes may help to reduce congestion and improve traffic. Watch the video above to see why!

Only time will tell if the new Aspen pedestrian lanes will work out in favor of the community. Though if riders and drivers alike can’t follow the rules of the road, the city will likely continue to struggle with issues of safety and congestion.

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