The city of Steamboat Springs placed a machine on Yampa Street on Thursday to let motorists know the speed limit has been changed to 15 mph. The reduced speed limit is part of an effort to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists who use the route.

Photo by John F. Russell

The city of Steamboat Springs placed a machine on Yampa Street on Thursday to let motorists know the speed limit has been changed to 15 mph. The reduced speed limit is part of an effort to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists who use the route.

Speed limit on Steamboat's Yampa Street lowered to improve pedestrian safety

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Guilhem Malichier, a specialist with ECO counter, tests out the new bike counter the Colorado Department of Transportation installed on Yampa Street to count bikes on the roadway.

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— Traffic on Yampa Street moved a little slower Thursday thanks to a reduced speed limit.

The change from 25 to 15 mph was made by the city to improve pedestrian safety, and the slower traffic was welcomed by cyclists and walkers, including Erin Vargas.

“I think it's going to be a good thing,” she said as she washed the dirt off her cruiser bike in front of the Wheels Bike Shop on Yampa. “It's safer.”

In addition to the new speed limit, fresh striping for bike lanes and pedestrian crossings also are in place on Yampa as Steamboat ushers in its busy summer tourism season and sees more traffic on the street.

On Sunday, the street also will celebrate its inaugural Yampa Live event from noon to 3 p.m., when residents and visitors can enjoy reggae music, refreshments, beach volleyball, kiddie pools and sandcastles, among other attractions.

“We thought this would be a good time to roll out the changes,” Public Works Director Chuck Anderson said.

Making Yampa more pedestrian friendly long has been a discussion at Steamboat Springs City Council meetings and among business owners on the street.

Anderson added that the city also is looking into making some changes to the parking areas on Yampa with the goal of better defining pedestrian walkways.

He said the goal is not to eliminate any parking but to rearrange it.

Also Thursday, employees with Colorado Department of Transportation's Bicycle, Pedestrians and Byways Unit installed a new bike counter that will keep tally of every cyclist who rides over a section of the street.

Unit Manager Betsy Jacobsen said the data helps cities and the state agency figure out peak cycling times and whether the amount of bike traffic warrants changes to the roadway, such as sharrows or protected bike lanes.

Steamboat Springs was one of the first cities in the state to receive one of the counters in 2010, when one was installed on Routt County Road 129.

City officials said after the installation that the data could help it to secure grants and funding for road improvements.

Jacobsen said that even in its infancy, the new bike counting program has influenced policy.

For example, data from the C-470 bike path near Denver showed that contrary to CDOT and motorists' previous perceptions, a significant number of cyclists were continuing to use the bike path throughout the winter, but the traffic stopped after snowstorms.

The cycling count led to CDOT starting to plow part of the bike path after snowstorms, Jacobsen said.

It's early to tell what bike counting data could lead to for roadways like Yampa Street, but the data will help the city make future decisions.

“We've been counting motorized traffic for years and years, but we've never had data on cycling,” Jacobsen said. “Should we be making any accommodations for them on certain roadways? Should we add shoulder width? This data helps with those decisions.”

She said Steamboat quickly became an ideal place to measure the traffic in the northwest corner of the state.

The counter on Yampa uses an induction loop system and can differentiate between cars, people and bicycles.

The metal on a bike is detected by wires that are embedded across the street.

It was a coincidence the speed limit was lowered on the same day the bike counter was being installed, but the CDOT employee did offer some feedback on the change, saying traffic studies have shown drops from 25 to 15 mph drastically can reduce the potential of cyclists and pedestrians getting seriously injured or killed in a collision with a car.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

bill schurman 10 months, 1 week ago

Will bicycle riders have to comply with the new speed limit ?

1

john bailey 10 months, 1 week ago

why? they don't do it anywhere else. good thing theres only 2 stop signs from 5th to 11th.~;0) oh and lets monitor em too. how about doing the same on the core trail. pesky little pedestrians.

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Michelle Hale 10 months, 1 week ago

This photo says it all. Look where this bike is right on the white line, and the handle bars are over the line. This is the complaint of many. People who ride bikes tend to be very inconsiderate of drivers. THEY hog the road, and in my view place danger to the driver. WE have to swing out of our lane into on coming traffic to go around them. I would think they need to learn to share the road, and remember a truck or a car is a large heavy machine, and is NOTHING to be playing chicken with. It is also about simple physics. It take more time to stop a larger vehicle.

For those who ride bikes, please remember your manors, and share the road.

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Pat West 10 months ago

Michelle, With respect, look up the road in the picture. You see a parked car, I would imagine the cyclist was toward the right, keeping safe from a door opening from a parked car. Also, just past where this photo was taken the bike lane gets overtaken by parked cars in from of the Sweetwater Grill. In my opinion, if the city paints a bike lane onto a road, any car parked inside the bike lane should be subject to towing, or a parking ticket. A cyclist must look down the road and use their judgement to move to a the safest place to the right of traffic. If the safest place is in the traffic lane it is the automobile drivers responsibility to pass with care, and only pass when safe. Not passing cyclist when there is oncomming traffic would be a good start. Remember cars and trucks are large and can easily hurt bikers, pedestrians, and even other drivers. No matter how irresponsible you feel a cyclist is riding, you have a greater responsiblity because of the vehicle you are operating. Current laws provide drivers the ability to cross double yellow lines to pass cyclists, but only when safe to do so. Please use patience around cyclists and understand that in no way does your automobile give you the right to "own the road" or never get slowed by other road users. Thanks

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Joe Solomon 10 months ago

Interesting comments Michelle, especially in regards to Yampa Street. If you've spent time down here (and our office is on Yampa, so we bike this lane and street daily), you would know that the bike lane actually shares space with parked cars in some spots and WE are forced to move left to avoid them (and a lot of doors that fly open unexpectedly). There are also pedestrians in the lane now as well as a few Segways recently, so the street as a whole is one big melting pot of usage. I am sorry that YOU feel that WE are so inconsiderate - a topic that has been debated here ad nauseum and will go the way of so many that will never be agreed upon - but to use this picture of an example of OUR "disregard" for the rules of the road is off base and misinformed.

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Scott Wedel 10 months ago

Or does Michelle's comment say it all?

A bicyclist is giving room to a parked trailer so if someone or some dog steps out from behind the trailer there is a chance to avoid a collision. The picture shows no vehicle being affected by the bicyclist and yet is being criticized for being closer to the traffic lane.

Do some people think a bike lane prohibits bicyclists from using the rest of the street as needed for safety?

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