Although there are arguably more pressing matters in our city, lately it seems the residents of Colorado Springs are heavily focused on the increase of bike infrastructure in or near our downtown.
Being a huge bicycle advocate, I am very pleased to see the active dialogue on this topic, knowing that the input and conversations can only make the city’s efforts to implement safe bike infrastructure even better for our residents.
Under Mayor John Suthers’ leadership, Colorado Springs has finally begun to create a safe and connected network of bike lanes for cyclists.
This doesn’t mean that every street will someday include a bike lane. It means a few of our streets will add bike lanes, creating safe and connected routes for those commuting to work or school by bike.
These routes were envisioned, planned, and now being executed from a yearlong public process that created the city’s Bike Master Plan.
This plan can be viewed at https://coloradosprings.gov/bikes/page/bike-master-plan.
I understand there are many residents critical of bike infrastructure. This is understandable, as change is hard, especially when it comes to our roads. Council members hear more from constituents about road issues than any other issue, as our roads impact our daily lives and are a constant indicator of the success or failure of a city.
Implementing connected and safe bike routes on our roads substantially increases the number of people who will ride their bikes.
This increase in ridership reduces overall congestion and wear and tear on our roads, which then delays the need for road construction and road maintenance, which saves tax dollars. Yes…saves tax dollars.
Even more important is that implementing bike infrastructure reduces speeding, which is especially important in residential neighborhoods, like the Old North End, where kids play nearby and walk to school.
If you need proof of this, I encourage you to drive up Cascade Avenue, where a bike lane now exists, and then back down Nevada Avenue, which has no bike lane. You will quickly understand that the bike lane on Cascade Avenue naturally reduces road speeds and feels safer for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike.
Cascade Avenue has become an extremely civilized road experience for all users, which is what all residential streets should be.
Colorado Springs also has many of residents who are unable to drive single-passenger vehicles, often due to a medical condition. As a compassionate city, we simply must provide alternate transportation modes for these citizens, to include transit and bike lanes, just as we provide ADA infrastructure for citizens who need accessibility options to safely navigate the city. No, there aren’t many citizens who need this type of infrastructure, but as a caring community, we strive to build a city that serves and benefits all.
I would not want to live in a city that did not provide mobility and accessibility options for all its residents. Would you?
And if you still need another argument for bikes, our city data reveals that residents under 40 years old want more bike infrastructure.
We might be a great city for retirees, but we must also become a desirable city for younger residents and families, who work and create jobs, and these residents want more transportation options, to include bike lanes.
We learned this during the public process to create a comprehensive plan for the future development of our city.
The majority of over 8,000 public comments want safe and connected bike amenities on our roads.
As we build a city that matches our scenery, we must continue to listen to the voices of all of our citizens and implement the infrastructure they want and need. But we must do this without sacrificing safety, as the safety and well-being of all of our citizens will always be our highest and most noble priority.
Jill Gaebler is the District 5 representative on Colorado Springs’ City Council.