Fewer Road Closures for Bike Race Next Year?
The USA Pro Challenge finished just over a month ago, and planning for next year’s edition has already begun. Aspen plans to apply to host the race again in 2014... and officials have started looking at whether to improve on how things went during the 2013 edition of the race. Discussions range from road closures to conversations with international cycling officials in Europe.
Reporter: Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron is fresh back from Italy, where he and three other city employees reviewed a possible sister city... and took a look at how officials in Florence handle a major international cycling race. You could see some of the planning decisions right away.
Steve Skadron: “The tenting they used to host the event was enormous. Enormous as it, I think, we estimated three Food & Wine tents. That’s the VIP tent!”
Reporter: Skadron is waiting to hear more details on how communities near Florence helped pay to host the race. And he also plans to call on officials there if other questions come up in the coming months. Skadron says Aspen is definitely putting in a bid to host the Pro Challenge next year. Pitkin County Commissioners also recently discussed how to plan for the race. In a meeting last week on October 1st, officials seemed to agree the race would have to be organized differently next year. Commissioner Rob Ittner pointed to an informal poll taken by the Aspen Times after this year’s race. The paper asked readers if they wanted the Pro Challenge to return to Aspen next year.
Rob Ittner: “Nine hundred and eighty people said no, it’s bad for business, and four hundred and fifty nine said yes, it's great for Aspen. I do believe there are people there are out there who believe we can do a better job.”
Reporter: Many complaints about this year’s race revolved around road closures. They were longer and more widespread than in years past. This year the town was literally shut down and it wasn’t possible to get in and out of Aspen or Snowmass Village for several hours. Commissioner Rachel Richards described one way to avoid repeating that scenario.
Rachel Richards: “There will be an in-town, constant pick up drop off shuttle at the intercept lot every ten minutes, and they will depart as quickly as possible when they’re given the go ahead in the race, and you can get back out to your car.”
Reporter: On his trip, Mayor Steve Skadron looked at how the Italians handled that issue during a major bike race there last month.
Steve Skadron: “Quite interestingly, Florence apparently was shut down for many days. Not just one day like we were, but I think they said a week.”
Reporter: Although he’s not proposing that for Aspen or the Roaring Fork Valley. The City of Aspen surveyed area business owners for their take on the Pro Challenge this summer. The final report isn’t out yet, but preliminary results show a number of requests for keeping Highway 82 open.