New bikes lanes, traffic configurations and striping changes came to downtown Colorado Springs roads this summer.
Colorado Springs residents have mixed feelings about the changes, which you might have noticed in a few places downtown, including on Pikes Peak and Cascade avenues, and on Weber Street.
Some Gazette readers approve, and have praised the city for making downtown's streets safer and more accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists. Others have called the changes "futile" and "a waste of money."
What do you think? Take the poll below and keep scrolling to see what Gazette readers have say about it.
Hate it or love it: Downtown bike lanes
Background: Many of the changes implemented this summer are part of the city's Experience Downtown Master Plan, which includes a bike master plan that was adopted by city council in April.
Some roadway changes, first announced in January, drew fierce criticism from residents in the North End neighborhood in particular. A group of displeased residents went as far as seeking a temporary injunction on the street work—which they were granted by a judge in May. That injunction, however, was lifted the following month. Restriping on Cascade Avenue between Bijou and Jackson streets, near Colorado College and the Old North End neighborhood, was completed in August. (By the way, this wasn't the first time a bike lane got people fired up. The city removed a 3-mile bike lane from Research Parkway in December 2016—just a few months after putting it there—in large part because of opposition from residents.)
Here's what Gazette readers think about the recent changes to downtown roadways:
Cascade bike lanes a waste of money
After reading multiple opinions about Cascade Avenue, one of our (former) most beautiful streets, I finally drove there to see for myself. And: What the .....
I was expecting a multitude of bicycle riders, well, at least a good number, or at the very least, a few. To my surprise, there was one man with a bicycle, and he was pushing it on the sidewalk. All the white paint, serving absolutely no purpose, is ugly and distracting. Yes, cars do slow down, because there is nowhere to go, no way to pass, not even bicyclists to avoid.
A waste of money? Yes! Will I drive there again to enjoy the beauty of the tree-lined streets and the stately houses? Probably not. Nor will I show my visitors from out of state or abroad how we live here in Colorado Springs. Something I used to do and felt pride in doing so.
You might not print this, as I am sure much has been said and written on this topic, but I just had to voice my disappointment.
Doris (Finzel) McLeod, Colorado Springs
Bike lanes perplexing, unnecessary
Let us call the new bike lanes on Cascade what they really are: perplexing and unnecessary. As a lifelong Colorado Springs cyclist, I should naturally be in favor of all bike infrastructure projects and improvements, but the new lanes on Cascade make zero sense. Why take what is typically a bustling four lane road and converge it down into two? Especially when the Pikes Peak Greenway/Monument Valley Park trail (which has zero vehicular traffic) is just one block over?
What we are now left with is a “new” Cascade Avenue that resembles something similar of a funeral procession, making it even more of a hassle to cross. Infrastructure projects like this need to be studied, well thought out, not someone’s pet project. A simple request for our dear city leaders: focus on making east-west travel easier, not the opposite, and how about gauging the opinion of cyclists and other commuters first.
Tom McCord, Colorado Springs
Bike lanes a futile proposition
There have been several recent letters to the editor decrying the development of commuting bike lanes on Colorado Springs streets, mainly because of resultant traffic congestion from the elimination of traffic lanes.
I wonder how many of the bike lane proponents have ever tried to commute by bike in Colorado Springs. During my 40 working years in Southern California, I never had my own individual car. I commuted to and from work by bike, averaging from three to five thousand miles a year. This does not work in Colorado, for all but the most dedicated cyclists.
In the summer, the frequent afternoon thunderstorms make cycling home a risky proposition, and I found, after retiring here, that it wasn’t possible for me to find boots and gloves that would keep my hands and feet warm while cycling in frigid weather.
Altering traffic patterns for bike lanes that would be used, at the most, 30 or 40 percent of the time seems like a futile proposition. Let’s use the money for expanding our already wonderful recreational bike trails.
Knowles G. Curwen, Colorado Springs
Absurdity of new lanes
I have enjoyed reading the letters in the editorial section protesting the bike lanes, because now I don’t feel like a mean and hateful person for resenting all the street space being taken up for bike lanes that no one uses. Seriously, it was bad enough to try to dodge the endless and lethal potholes in our village (most of which are still there) without having to try to stay out of the equally lethal and annoying bike lanes that no one uses. I have never seen anyone on a bike in any of these bike lanes, although I continue to see the occasional biker riding on the sidewalks as they have for years. Between drivers yapping on their cellphones at crosswalks and sidewalk bike riders, it is more dangerous to be a pedestrian.
Somebody with common sense on our City Council needs to sit back, back up, and take out 99 percent of their clever little bike lanes that nobody uses and nobody will ever use. I am wondering if those members pushing this so hard own stock in cycling equipment or have some other dog in the fight. To think that because you paint bike lanes someone will come is absurd.
Geraldine Russell, Colorado Springs
Support for a safe, bikeable city
At Bike Colorado Springs, we feel that our city should be safe to get around by bike for anyone, no matter their age. We join the Old North End Neighborhood Association in welcoming this long-awaited traffic calming project to Cascade Avenue. Planning professionals agree that this type of lane reconfiguration, commonly referred to as a road diet, is proven to improve safety for all roadway users. The addition of bike lanes to the unused roadway is not the reason for a road diet but a fortunate side effect for bike riders in our community. As a driver and a new dad that hopes to bike with his family as soon as possible; all I want is for everybody on the road with me to safely get to their destination.
I chose to live in an older neighborhood because they are better suited to getting around by bike or foot than newer parts of our city. This is true in the Old North End as well due to businesses and commercial districts being close to or mixed with residential neighborhoods. Simple changes to roadways in these neighborhoods, such as road diets and bike lanes, will allow more people to feel comfortable walking or biking around their neighborhood.
We support giving our residents the freedom to decide how they get around our city and believe in the right to safety no matter what mode of travel they use to reach their destination. Cascade Avenue is one step in a well-documented plan to improve bicycle safety throughout Colorado Springs while making bicycling, as a way to get around our city, more appealing to a broader audience. The plan I speak of, the Colorado Springs Bike Masterplan, went through a robust public process, is supported by the mayor, and was unanimously supported by our City Council, showing that support for a safe, bikeable city is alive and well in Colorado Springs.
Cully Radvillas, Colorado Springs
Put bike lanes to a vote
I’ve heard, but I don’t know if it’s true, that these bike lanes are mainly the work of one lady in power to help make them happen. If so, the mayor and City Council need to get it together and do something about stopping this.
I drove a delivery vehicle from downtown to all parts of the city for about seven years. During that time, I rarely saw bike traffic. When I did, it was mostly Jimmy John’s delivery drivers and believe me, they didn’t stick to bike lanes. The others I saw were from the Olympic Training Center, and they seemed to stay on less traveled streets.
Traffic is getting heavier, and now you want to take away driving lanes to have bike lanes? Have you lost your common sense? You want to see what the taxpayers want? Put it to a vote. Then you’ll see what we want.
From what I’ve read, the city has spent a lot of money on surveys and studies to plan for more bike lanes to make us a super friendly bike city. Again, I think you forgot to ask the people who have to pay for this lunacy.
Colorado Springs covers a large area for a city its size. Most of those who work downtown come from far away and riding a bike is not convenient. You want to spend big money to downsize lanes and create more bike lanes for a tiny percent of the population that rarely uses them? You tried this in an area up northeast for a few years, and it failed miserably. You finally realized this and restored the lanes to vehicle traffic. Yet you want to make the same mistake again on a much larger scale? Why?
Ted Young, Colorado Springs
Who designed the bike lanes?
Seriously? Who designed the bike lanes downtown?
The ones in front of the VFW on Pikes Peak are especially dangerous! That bike lane has a guard rail between it and the cars parking on the street. Anyone leaving the VFW at night (a majority are seniors) will have difficulty seeing these guard rails and could fall.
The bike lanes that are being built around the downtown area are confusing and will increase traffic congestion. In addition, they are dangerous for pedestrians and automobiles.
I volunteer downtown and will have to reassess my availability if this trend continues.
Mary Gallivan, Colorado Springs
We need more bike lanes
A number of letters from readers have expressed frustration with the city’s bike lanes. These letters have mentioned concerns about the lanes’ impact on traffic patterns, their futility or low use, and more.
These are valid concerns, but the discussion has been largely one-sided, so I wanted to offer a different perspective on behalf of those who use the lanes and want more of them.
I ride my bike year-round all over town. I know a lot of riders, and see many I don’t know, who use the bike lanes.
I also know a lot of people who are interested in riding a bike, but who don’t because they (justifiably) feel unsafe without a dedicated lane.
One of the biggest challenges is the bike lanes we have often end abruptly, and strand riders in a high traffic area, leaving them wondering how to safely get to their destination.
Bike lanes need to be connected with other bike lanes to create a network that makes it easy to safely ride across the city. Bike lanes that don’t connect to larger networks are almost futile and will get much less use.
Bikes are a very effective way to address our traffic problems. Not only do they reduce the number of vehicle trips and demand for parking, they also give the rider some exercise, reduce pollution, and lessen demand for gas — all of which have tangible benefits.
An important intangible benefit is the increased connection the rider feels to the community.
With more effective bike lanes, we’ll have more riders, less traffic and pollution, and a healthier population closely connected to our community.
Zach Owen, Colorado Springs
Refuting need for new bike lanes
In addressing Zach Owens’ response to more bike lanes, he is correct, and he gives the (anti-bike lane) points validity by saying they are valid concerns. Those points being bike lanes having a negative impact on traffic patterns, their futility or low use, “and more.”
I don’t know what the “and more” means. It could possibly mean the added expense to tax payers of installing these lanes, or possibly a vehicle owner paying taxes to support bike lanes whereas a cyclist contributes literally nothing to the installation and upkeep of bicycle lanes.
Zach, as far as reducing pollution and lessening the demand for gas I would challenge that.
The bike lanes would cause an increase in traffic congestion, thereby causing more pollution and lowering a vehicle’s MPG, thus increasing, not lessening, the demand for gas.
I guess your “connection to the community,” whatever that means, can’t be refuted.
Leo Jones, Colorado Springs
Fewer cars on the roads
I am sorry that so many Gazette readers are unhappy with the city’s push to create more bike paths.
I spent two and a half hours this morning riding my bike all over the city, doing deliveries for my work.
I’d estimate 75 percent of that route was spent on bike paths, and I’m looking forward to having that last 25 percent sewn up.
Cyclists will commute by bicycle if they feel safe, and I feel much safer riding dedicated bike paths.
Keep up the good work, Colorado Springs.
To disgruntled car drivers, I can only say that every time you see a cyclist making their way through town, there is one less car on the road, cleaner air and less traffic for you to sit in.
Nicole Rosa, Colorado Springs
Happy with bike lanes
Today as my children and I biked, scootered and walked to the first day of school at Steele Elementary, I saw the new bike lanes being installed. I am beyond ecstatic! I grew up in the Old North End and Cascade Ave. has always been a haphazard street to drive down and to cross as a pedestrian. Now with the bike lanes, my three children can walk to their Nana’s home, a few blocks away, without having to navigate four lanes of traffic. Also, the bike lanes help calm traffic through the neighborhood by reducing the high speeds cars can go and thus enhancing the quality of life for people living and walking on Cascade. The bike lanes also serve the purpose to allow cyclists to have a dedicated lane to travel in to and from downtown. Raising my children in a walkable and bikeable community is important to me and another reason why I’m so happy to be living in Colorado Springs as it continues to reinvent itself.
Megan Retherford Murillo, Colorado Springs
Losing designated crosswalks
Driving through Colorado College on Cascade Avenue, I noted that the college is tearing out the crosswalks and warning lights they spent tens of thousands of dollars installing just a year or so ago, Then I recalled a statement recently that it said that the students will now be able to cross, call it what it is, J-walk across Cascade because of the reconfiguration into one lane and a bike lane any place they want.
Those poor babies. They had to cross at designated crosswalks, but now like sheep out to pasture they can now roam whereever they want. I wonder what they will do when the folly of the recent reconfiguration is realized, and Cascade is returned to two lanes.
Doug Gardner, Colorado Springs
It just has to be the ‘pot’
Last night was my first time driving downtown now that the city of Colorado Spring put the new bicycle lanes on Cascade Avenue. Wow, how neat is that! A double left-hand turn lane from westbound Platte on to southbound Cascade with two southbound lanes split in the middle by the new bicycle lane and in a city where the most drivers don’t know how to maintain a lane on a turn.
It might be best if the city wastes some more of the taxpayers money and just eliminate automobile traffic on Cascade and turn it back into a four-lane street. The middle lanes should be for the bicycle lane and a lane for walkers and joggers. One of the outside lanes should be for people walking pets. You need an outside lane for this group so their pets can do their business on the grass median up on the Old North End. The other outside lane should be for the homeless so they can have their lane to push their stolen grocery carts up the street and not block the sidewalk.
This lane should have more traffic than the bicycle lane because the number of homeless has to exceed the number of bike riders we have in town. If the city wants to waste more money, it can put in an ice rink piping system under the bike lane so in the five months when it’s too cold to ride a bike you can ice skate down the middle of Cascade Avenue. Maybe CC can run their Zamboni up the new skating/bicycle lane to resurface the ice in the winter.
What’s next, bicycle lanes on I-25? It just has to be the “pot” there is just no other explanation for the madness.
Jerry Stevens, Colorado Springs
City’s ‘Brave New Bicycle World’
On an errand downtown today, I encountered Kathleen Krager’s Brave New Bicycle World — streets embossed with so many lines, cross-hatchings, arrows and incomprehensible symbols, all to no apparent purpose, that I felt I’d become a citizen of M.C. Escher’s mind. I returned home on Cascade, in a lane that veered madly from one side of the street to the other as if designed to illustrate a pathway for a driver drunker than $17 million. We have all been told repeatedly by Krager and her various enablers in the city government that these markings are intended to make the city more welcoming for bicyclists, not to mention safer.
About halfway through this hazardous venture, I was struck by a question: Where are the bicyclists? On my entire journey, I saw one. She was riding in one of the few remaining automobile lanes, and looked damned convinced of her right to do so. Otherwise, no bicycles.
I was left with a question for our ostensible strong mayor. How does one woman gain the power to spend these inordinate sums on art projects designed for the use of people who don’t use them and, so far as I’ve ever noticed, don’t really exist?
Malcolm McCollum, Colorado Springs