Colorado Springs needs a bike trail system second to none, or as one advocate of a better trails network called it: “a big unified system.”
When a family or corporation considers packing up and moving to the Springs, the most exciting aspect of the prospective move is usually our city’s unique location at the base of Pikes Peak, the most famous mountain in North America. People move here for the relatively temperate climate and the prospect of leading more of life in the great outdoors among beautiful rocks, trees and wildlife nestled in the region’s high rugged terrain.
Few urban environments offer more of the great outdoors.
So it’s great to hear of new efforts to update, expand and connect city trails with others.
The Colorado Springs City Council on Tuesday gave their approval to an agreement with the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments for the two entities to work together toward an ambitious new plan to improve bicycle trails throughout the region. As explained in a story by Gazette reporter Barbara Cotter, the city will contribute $85,000 to PPACG to create the subplan, with $70,000 coming from the city’s bike-tax proceeds. An additional $15,000 will come from a grant.
It could lead to “a big unified system,” said Craig Casper, regional transportation director for the PPACG.
“We started talking with the city — we like to collaborate with local entities — and figured out we could get more done together than working individually, and it would reduce duplication of effort,” Casper said. “And we just get better coordination. Everybody is on the same page.”
In addition to the funds provided by Colorado Springs, Woodland Park and El Paso County are also planning to contribute funds to the PPACG effort to coordinate the drafting of plans. Ultimately, the effort will lead to plans for a seamless system with links to bike trails through all parts of El Paso County and up the Ute Pass into Teller County.
“This is a huge deal,” said Allen Beauchamp, of the Colorado Springs Cycling Club. “We have the Portlands of the world, and the Minneapolises, and the other cities that have been making a lot of effort in the last 10 to 15 years, working on a comprehensive nonmotorized plan.
It shows that if you develop a very solid plan and fund the creation of what you plan for, it can be pretty much very transformational for a community.”
Absolutely, it can be transformational. By investing in bicycle trails — mostly at a cost of those who buy bicycles — we invest in one aspect of the healthful, recreational lifestyles that set this city apart from others that compete with us for economic development.
We invest in enhancing the city’s quality of life, which is what draws people to the area and keeps them here.
While developing a plan makes great sense, it cannot stop there. No one can ride a bicycle on the best of plans. The community needs to think of creative ways to fund the extension and connection of existing trails and the construction of new trails after the plan is complete.
We should set a goal to be known as a city of great, comprehensive bicycle trails — which meander through some to the country’s greatest urban terrain — ideally in a manner that doesn’t burden noncycling taxpayers in the least.