Colorado Springs has made another top 10 list of cool, hip, trend-setting American cities. This place has been the best big city in the country (Money, 2006) and often ranks among the top five fittest cities in the country. We've been the second-best city to live with pets, the eighth-best city in which to retire and often rank among a few of the best cities in which to start businesses and careers. The list of recent accolades is long and distinguished, but few would have expected the latest.
Colorado Springs is setting trends for getting to and from work on bicycles, by foot and with public transportation.
On a list topped by New York, Washington and San Francisco, Colorado Springs came in eighth for the "largest decline in proportion of workers commuting by private car or van." Residents of cities on the list are opting for bicycles, sidewalks and buses. That's because young professionals - the kind who makes this city among the fittest in the country - are into alternative transportation. They don't like getting stuck in traffic, driving around looking for parking spaces or shopping for the cheapest fuel. They prefer exercise and fresh air whenever possible.
The study was released Wednesday by the Colorado-based CoPIRG foundation, which studied hard data from the Federal Highway Administration, the Transit Administration and the Census Bureau for all of America's 100 most populous metropolitan areas - places that collectively make up half the country's population.
We know what's likely coming in response, from the vocal cadre of Debbie Downers who live in the Springs and take delight in trashing it as backwards, unsophisticated and unattractive to cool young hipsters. They'll argue that fewer drive because of lousy economic conditions that make it hard to afford vehicles and fuel. It's not going to fly.
"The study found that cities with the largest decreases in driving were not those hit hardest by the recession. On the contrary, the economies of urbanized areas with the largest declines in driving appear to have been less affected by the recession according to unemployment, income and poverty indicators," wrote the reports authors.
They added: "Across the nation, young people have shown the steepest reductions in driving. Americans 16 to 34 years of age reduced their average driving miles by 23 percent between 2001 and 2009."
While this may seem like a car town, it's really not. Bicycling magazine ranks it among the 50 most "Bike-Friendly Cities." We're the home of USA Cycling. We're a host city for the 2014 USA Pro Challenge bike race. City administration has added more bus service at night and on Sundays.
The recent notion that Colorado Springs can't appeal to young, up-and-coming professionals - members of the millennial generation - doesn't conform with facts.
Throughout the country, those looking for outdoor lifestyles of health and fitness should give positive consideration to Colorado Springs. It's only an hour from another great city, Denver, which is the top draw in the country for millennials. Like Colorado Springs, Denver ranked high in CoPIRG's study. On a list of urbanized areas with the largest declines in vehicle miles traveled per capita, one of only two categories in the report, the Denver-Aurora metropolitan statistical area came in ninth.
Colorado Springs offers easy access to the amenities of Denver, but this community's transit-friendly, pedestrian-friendly, bicycle friendly landscape sits among rolling hills and trees at the base of Pikes Peak. Our future is bright, if we collectively choose to embrace success and the gifts God gave this extraordinary region.