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Durango starts pedestrian and cyclist count

City will use numbers to improve multimodal infrastructure
Cathy Hoch, a volunteer for the city of Durango, sits at the intersection of 12th Street and Camino del Rio counting cyclists and pedestrians for the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Volunteers working for the city of Durango on the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project will count passersby this week at intersections throughout Durango.

Where it’s happening

Intersections where the bicycle and pedestrian counts are taking place include:

  • U.S. Highway 160 and Three Springs Boulevard.
  • East Eighth Avenue and Third Street.
  • College Drive and East Eighth Avenue.
  • Camino del Rio and Ninth Street.
  • HAWK signal at Camino del Rio and 12th Street.
  • West Third Avenue and Park Avenue.
  • East Second Avenue and 15th Street.
  • East Third Avenue and Florida Road.
  • Main Avenue and 22nd Street (Junction Creek Bridge).
  • Main Avenue and 32nd Street.
  • Florida Road and East Animas Road (County Road 250).

The three-day count happens every two years. This year, volunteers are counting at 11 intersections. They started Tuesday and will resume Thursday and Saturday.

Durango has taken part in the biennial count since 2009.

“Basically, what this organization does is they’re getting counts from across the nation,” said Devin King, multimodal administrator for Durango. “These counts are really important for us.”

Data collected from the count will be used to inform future grants, as well as help determine the success of past infrastructure projects.

“It helps us look at whether or not the improvements we’re doing are increasing bicycle and pedestrian use in these areas,” King said. “People really like to see the data and see if we’re actually making an impact.”

Numbers from the 2019 count have informed a number of city projects, one of which is finishing up its design phase.

“A recent project that we’ve received grants for is the College Drive and Eighth Avenue project,” King said. “We’re finishing up design right now, and we’ll be going into construction in 2022. One of the grants for that project is specifically for bike and pedestrian infrastructure.”

As of Tuesday, King said the city had filled only 56 of the 77 volunteer spots. Volunteers take two-hour shifts in the mornings from 7 to 9 a.m., and in the evenings from 4 to 6 p.m.

“In the past, we’ve been able to fill pretty much all the spots, and then any spots left over, some of the staff in the transportation department will round up and fill out those last few spots,” King said.

One volunteer, Cathy Hoch, said this is her third time volunteering for the count, and her second time counting at the HAWK signal at Camino del Rio and 12th Street.

“I like to do it here because I cross here a lot and I think it’s super dangerous,” Hoch said. “I really feel like some of the crossings don’t get enough attention.”

Hoch said in previous years she’s counted as many as 50 people an hour who cross Camino del Rio at 12th Street.

“It’s important for people to know how many people cross in a two-hour time span,” Hoch said.

Pedestrians and cyclists throughout the city are proud of the city’s efforts to make Durango a place where people can walk and bike.

“They’ve done a great job,” said resident and pedestrian Janet Madden. “I like how things are maintained.”

Madden walks the Animas River Trail on her way to work downtown.

“Culturally, it’s an amazing place to ride a bicycle,” said Jo Hanrahan, owner of Durango Cyclery. “Bikes I feel have more respect in this town than most other places I’ve lived.”

Hanrahan said he hopes the city will provide more connectivity for cyclists on city streets.

“The most connected piece we have is the Animas River Trail, but it’s crowded,” Hanrahan said. “It’s not always nice to be a cyclist on the path, just because you almost feel like a jerk going past people.”

Hanrahan hopes for better connectivity right around his shop, where he says the north and south ends of town come together.

“The zone connecting north and south seems to be the issue,” Hanrahan said. “There’s not a really good way to get across main street, and where the river crosses.”

King said the city hears a lot of feedback from pedestrians and cyclists asking about safety updates.

Local cyclist Bryan Harris said he would like to see the city improve the crossing at Ninth Street where there is an option to go over or under the Ninth Street Bridge.

“A lot of tourists are taking that right-hand fork, and they’re going over and crossing that street there,” Harris said. “There really needs to be a set of lights there to let people know that there’s a bike crossing over. I’ve watched a couple people almost get hit there in the last few days.”

njohnson@durangoherald.com

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