Published: December 4, 2013
Lily Gil braved single-digit temperatures Wednesday and rode her bike from her home near the Colorado College campus into downtown Colorado Springs.
The 22-year-old CC senior is part of a growing number of young people and Colorado Springs residents in general who are parking their cars and riding their bikes more for transportation.
"I get great exercise and I get to interact with people more when I'm not driving," Gil said.
A recent study released Wednesday by the Colorado Public Interest Research Group placed Colorado Springs in the Top 10 among the nation's 100 largest cities when it comes to a reduction in traveling to work by private vehicle. The city was eighth in the ranking with a decrease of 3.4 percent.
Gil made it a point to move within a few blocks of campus specifically to avoid using her car. She said she drives maybe twice a week, a reflection of living most of her life in places with good public transportation.
Lisa Ritland of CoPIRG and Craig Blewitt, the transit services manager with the city of Colorado Springs, said if the trend continues that road congestion and traffic will likely begin to decrease in the city.
"That's a key as decision makers are deciding what to invest in," Ritland said.
Other residents in Colorado Springs have chosen to either to work from home, use more public transportation or simply walk to work.
"I am lucky enough to have found a place two blocks away from my work," said 26-year-old Courtney Stone, who lives and works in downtown Colorado Springs.
"It's a lot cheaper to walk," she said. "I don't have to worry as much about buying gas and maintenance on my vehicle."
Stone works at the Independence Center on South Tejon Street. The center helps people with disabilities live independently. Stone said she works every day with people who don't have the choice to use a car.
James Ivey, a 49-year-old who frequents the city's Mountain Metro bus system, falls into that category.
Ivey said he lost hearing in both ears in 2011 while working construction. He said both eardrums "burst" and he can't drive because he will lose balance "and when I lose balance, I crash," he said.
"If it wasn't for (the bus), I'd be stuck at home," Ivey said.
Blewitt said Wednesday that Mountain Metro Transit saw a 7 percent increase in riders from 2012 to 2013. October was the highest month for ridership in the last three years, he said.
The report released Wednesday comes on the heels of another report published in May by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. That study revealed that people age 16 to 34 have led the way in a decline in driving.
Ritland said the habits of this young demographic are becoming ways of life and will ensure that they continue to look for alternative forms of transportation.
"This trend is here to stay," Ritland said.
Matt Steiner, The Gazette