Aspen City Council to Consider Mobility Lab Experiment
PRESS RELEASE

Aspen City Council to Consider Mobility Lab Experiment

Contact: Steven Skadron, Aspen Mayor at steve.skadron@cityofaspen.com or Ashley Perl, Climate Action Manager, 970-429-1798 or Ashley.perl@cityofaspen.com.

Aspen, Colorado – June 26, 2017 – On Tuesday, June 27 Aspen City Council in a work session will consider implementing an eight-week experiment in spring 2018 that tests the capacity for Aspen government, residents, visitors, and commuters to push the boundaries on alternative transit modes as well as reconsider downtown design that favors more pedestrian and bicyclists and traffic calming measures downtown.  Dubbed “Aspen Mobility Lab”, the experiment is meant to challenge the status quo of mobility options into, out of, and around Aspen.

“I want to take bold action to address Aspen’s congestion problem by championing modern mobility options. We must think and act in ways that go beyond relying solely on personal vehicle.  This is about mobility and exploring all the modes we can move people with besides the stop-and-go traffic entering and leaving Aspen and the congestion we see in the core, especially in the summer,” says Mayor Steven Skadron who has been pushing this idea since 2015.

“I want people who live here and people who move here to take a pride in the Aspen lifestyle.  For me that means embracing the historic character and small town charm.  We’re drowning in automobiles and we need to preserve the set of values that keep us a desirable town to live in and visit.  Congestion is antithetical to this,” he adds.  “This doesn’t mean we are banning cars, but the goal is to provide options that suit residents and commuters needs as well or better than what they are using today.”

The idea behind the Aspen Mobility Lab is to introduce the future of how we move people without solely relying on personal vehicles.  On the ground this means implementing solutions to congestion between The Intercept Lot and downtown including the entirety of Aspen.  

“Other than building a four-lane into Aspen, which I don’t support,” Skadron says, “something has to be done.  It’s not going to be easy but every single individual on the road is both part of the solution and part of the problem.  The question for everyone who drives is: Which end of the spectrum do you want to be on?”

While the physical boundaries of the project are defined, the scope and breadth of the Lab have yet to be determined.  The issue the project is meant to address is that Aspen’s transit options are not diverse enough to compete with the personal vehicle.  Creating diverse possibilities enticing enough to get people out of their cars is essential for the Lab’s success.  Examples might include a fleet of ride-share mopeds, a network of on-demand electric vehicle shuttles, quiet, pollution-free buses that run between Aspen and the Intercept lot every ten minutes, premium subscription commuter services tied to incentives and rewards like happy-hour concerts at the Intercept Lot, self-driving minivans, new transit apps, altering the configuration of downtown streets for smoother traffic flow, or lockers for down valley commuters to store gear.  Or maybe even a dog shuttle that allows people to ride as well.  The notion is that anything is up for consideration.

A significant part of the Lab will be reaching out to funders and innovators who are active participants already in the future of mobility.  Companies like Tesla or Ford or Google who might be interested in bringing a fleet of electric cars or autonomous vehicles to Aspen or Bloomberg Philanthropies, which is interested in helping cities rethink what is possible are examples of potential partners.

The Aspen Mobility Lab idea began with a conversation Mayor Skadron had with a representative from the Rocky Mountain Institute who suggested that the next wave of mobility options and those presenting them may need a willing city to test out the future.  One of the first steps in this process was convening the Aspen Community Forum on transportation hosted by the Aspen Institute.  

“I knew when I had this discussion that Aspen was forward-thinking enough and conscious enough to welcome an experiment that would not only address its congestion problems but serve the environmental good.  My goal is to begin to alter the ways we move people in the Roaring Fork Valley so we are not reliant on more lanes and more parking garages because that is an old world solution not appropriate for a progressive, innovative City,” Skadron said.
 
Council will discuss the idea of Aspen’s Mobility Lab in a work session on Tuesday, June 27 at 4pm in Council Chambers.


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Posted on Monday, June 26, 2017