As part of the expanding Street Smart effort throughout Aspen, the City of Aspen took over ownership of the four downtown traffic signals in fall of 2021. This responsibility allowed the City to evaluate implementing changes to service that would go above and beyond the status quo and result in improvements benefiting pedestrians, vehicles and public safety.
In October, a study was implemented that incorporated five timing plans based on the time of day. Each plan was customized to the needs of traffic signals during that particular time of day. For example, during morning rush hour, the traffic signals prioritize the vehicles travelling into town (in bound traffic) and in the afternoon they adjust for those vehicles leaving town (out bound traffic). At night all signals remain on green on Main Street until a car pulls up or someone presses the pedestrian button to trigger a change in the signal direction.
Why is this important and how does it benefit safety?
MORE EFFICIENCY – Signals now have an automatic cycle during peak travel times from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. year-round. Pedestrians don’t need to push the button. From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., signals are triggered by vehicle movement or pedestrian buttons.
FOR VEHICLES – these cycles provide more efficient travel in, out and through town allowing for a better traffic flow. In addition, vehicles have a better line of sight to better see pedestrians.
FOR PEDESTRIANS – Shorter signal cycles give pedestrians more opportunities to cross the street while increasing convenience for those who are walking. In addition, a Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) has been implemented that gives pedestrians an opportunity to enter the crosswalk prior to vehicles. This allows better visibility and decreases accidents between turning vehicles and pedestrians.
Pedestrian Indicators will automatically be triggered (between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.) when it is the pedestrians’ turn which means that pedestrians don’t need to press the button. This increases convenience and access for pedestrians.
Average walking pace was taken into account for coordinating the signals.
BATTERY BACKUP SYSTEMS are beening installed at each intersection to provide back-up power in the event of a power outage. This allows the signals to continue functioning for multiple hours in the event of an emergency such as storms, accidents, or infrastructure on other construction sites.
The new signal program also includes preventative maintenance twice a year.