The Popcycle Bridge might be the most inviting place to ride a bike in Colorado Springs. It has freshly paved asphalt with new paint, bike signs, nearby benches and best of all, no traffic.
But for years, the decrepit bridge straddling Monument Creek and hidden deep in Monument Valley Park wasn't exactly a destination spot. Paralleling an abandoned railroad track north of the park, it definitely wasn't the kind of place to take the kids on a bike ride.
Nonetheless, Colorado Springs residents have a group of parents with kids on bikes to thank for the transformation of the bridge, one of the first major improvements on the city's Legacy Loop, a downtown trail that has been the focus of a city effort to improve biking venues.. This weekend, the non-profit Kids on Bikes unveiled the improved bridge, transformed into an ideal destination where kids can learn to ride a bike and take a well-deserved break. On Sunday, more than 300 people - adults and kids on bikes - came to Monument Valley Park to celebrate the bridge's makeover with a bike ride and free carnival.
In 2011, Kids on Bikes started family rides to the bridge, where participants would stop to give the kids Popsicles - hence the name "Pop-cycle." But at the time, the bridge was far from inviting, said the group's Executive Director Nikki McComsey.
"It was not a really awesome place," said McComsey. She listed the detractions: "Chainlink fence. Beat up asphalt."
But in 2014, the non-profit started looking for ways to revamp the bridge, and persuaded Springs Fabrication, GE Johnson and Echo Architecture to donate $70,000 worth of time and materials to redesigning the bridge, McComsey said. Nine months later, the bridge is now a worthy destination for families - wooden benches line a bikes-only paved road, complete with bike signs. A massive industrial pipe, painted pink, now hides behind the row of benches. And there are still improvements to come - a permanent "fix station" with a bike pump for riders to use, McComsey said. For now, however, the bridge will be a good stop for the non-profit's weekly Popcycle Rides, which are every Sunday until the end of September.
"We want this to be a kind of destination so families can do there," McComsey said.
The bridge is also a small step in a direction that the city of Colorado Springs is hoping to head, namely becoming a more bike-friendly city.
"We just need more experiences like the Popcycle bridge," said McComsey.