Currently, two surveys are seeking the public’s input about pedestrian, biker and driver safety within Carbondale.
Niki Delson, a steering committee member for Age-Friendly Carbondale, formerly known as CAFCI, spoke with The Sopris Sun about a survey they are conducting to gather input about crashes or near misses along Highway 133. It is available online or in hard copy in both English and Spanish.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has jurisdiction over Highway 133 but only collects data on crashes, nothing on near misses. To date, CDOT reported 37 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in the state this year.
In recent years, as development has increased along the 133 corridor, so has vehicle traffic. What may have been considered safe crossing areas for pedestrians and bikers just a few years ago are now more precarious. The looming question today is how to move drivers, bikers and pedestrians to their destination in the safest possible way.
Delson explained that since CAFCI’s formation in 2019, “We’ve always been interested in mobility and being able to get around town without a car, since the whole town is only two square miles.”
In 2022, Delson, as a member of the Carbondale Bike, Pedestrian and Trails Commission (BPTC), and Susan Zislis, as a CAFCI steering committee member, applied for and were awarded six-month fellowships to America Walks’ Walking College whose mission is to assist community advocates in developing action plans to make their places more pedestrian-friendly.
“As we’re going through the training, Sue and I are thinking that what is going on in the United States is a big movement away from suburban design into one of building things more closely compacted,” Delson said, “where people could walk and ride bikes, making it more environmentally friendly.”
What became evident to Delson and Zislis was that experiential data needed to be collected from the public. CAFCI then enlisted the expertise of Matt Farrar, an experienced municipal planner, to create and finalize a survey. Delson said Farrar did the work pro-bono, and “we couldn’t have done this survey without him.”
At community events, like July’s First Friday, they had a booth and collected data on a map and a poster board. Recommendations, based on this data, will be shared with Master Plan consultants to be presented to the Town Trustees.
Delson said, “It breaks down to people not feeling safe in crosswalks. Those most concerned are parents of young children. If you look at Lewies Lane, across from Weant Boulevard, where the Montessori School is, there’s no crossing. For kids to cross, they have to either go to the crossing by Wells Fargo or the traffic light at Snowmass Drive. And others, going to Bridges High School or the Third Street Center, they’re just going to try to dodge traffic.”
Many of the 12-person Age-Friendly Carbondale steering committee members are assisting with the survey, and part of the funding to print copies came from the Rebekah Lodge. One of Delson’s neighbors helped translate the survey into Spanish.
A second survey, belonging to the Town of Carbondale’s Public Works Department, is called MAP Carbondale. “MAP” stands for Mobility and Access Plan and, according to the Carbondale Connect page, is “the beginning of a project to study transportation challenges, identify mobility issues and develop recommendations to make Carbondale comfortable and accessible by any mode.”
The campaign kicked off during July’s First Friday, also with a booth. Kevin Schorzman, Carbondale’s Public Works Director, said the online survey includes a map where you can place a digital pin to mark any intersection that you perceive as unsafe.
“We also encourage people to point out places where we’re doing things right,” he added.
Schorzman shared that BPTC Chairperson Matt Gworek and fellow member Rick Blauvelt “have been very active in getting the word out about the survey.”
They will continue to have booths at the Wednesday Farmers Market in Carbondale.
Upon the completion of both surveys, the data will be analyzed and make its way to the appropriate Town commissions, that will, in turn, offer recommendations to the Board of Town Trustees.