Steamboat planning commission finalizes greener transportation mobility plan
Plan moves forward to City Council for vote
Steamboat Springs City Council will vote next week to finalize a transportation mobility plan that prioritizes bicycles, walking and public transit as opposed to driving.
In a 64-page document created with help from Toole Design, a project firm hired by the city, the plan breaks down the city’s transportation issues into sections to address key issues. If council members adopt the plan, it will be used to guide decision-making regarding transportation issues for years to come.
“We’re really thinking about a multi-modal level for the future,” said Trung Vo, project manager with Toole Design. “We’re saying that in the future, we want to make it as easy as possible for someone to get where they need to go by walking, biking or taking transit.”
Vehicle congestion was identified as the city’s top issue, particularly in downtown areas along Lincoln Avenue and Yampa Street. In addition to slowing the flow of vehicle and bicycle traffic, congestion leads to high numbers of crashes, with 3,047 vehicle-involved crashes between 2014 and 2019.
Kelly Douglas, senior city planner, said a large share of those crashes occurred downtown, but did not have the exact percentage.
The second issue outlined was the city’s fragmented and disconnected sidewalks, particularly in residential neighborhoods and on the west side of U.S. Highway 40.
Planners also said the area around Steamboat Resort lacks pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, which makes it difficult for people to commute around without a car.
Steamboat’s over-reliance on U.S. 40 was said to contribute to congestion and lead to commercial and mixed-use areas having limited options for circulation, according to Douglas. For biking, the Yampa River Core Trail serves as a backbone network, but Douglas said it lacks effective connections to destinations that aren’t directly adjacent to the trail.
While 16.3% of Steamboat commuters walk, bike or take public transit to work, Douglas said enhancing these networks is essential to increasing that number, as well as meeting transit demands in conjunction with the city’s sustainability goals.
Other areas of importance as noted in the plan include Steamboat’s current bicycle network, which features 13 miles of paved trails, 24 miles of on-street bike lanes and 18 miles of signed bicycle routes. While Steamboat is widely known as a bicycle-friendly community, planners felt biking through town was limited to the Yampa River Core Trail and biking on roads is much more difficult, as bicycle lanes are narrow and not far from vehicles.
In order to address these issues, planners are hoping to expand the on-street bicycle network between the Core Trail and community destinations.
“This will hopefully make it easier for people to choose to bicycle rather than driving for short trips,” Vo said.
While most neighborhoods and businesses in the city are located within a half-mile of a public transit route, the plan also hopes to broaden transit to include more residents and visitors so they’ll opt to ride a bus rather than driving.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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