Locals sound off on Springs bike lanes 

Soap Box

click to enlarge This car was trying to turn into a private parking lot and nearly struck a cyclist, exactly what naysayers about Weber Street's new striping plan predicted. The cyclist appeared to be knocked to the ground just prior to this photo being shot (2017). - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • This car was trying to turn into a private parking lot and nearly struck a cyclist, exactly what naysayers about Weber Street's new striping plan predicted. The cyclist appeared to be knocked to the ground just prior to this photo being shot (2017).

Though snow still blankets the local landscape, bike lanes are on the mind. In this week's issue the Indy looks at lingering questions and emotions surrounding the story of John Jesmer, 69, who was struck by a vehicle while riding his bicycle on Weber Street in 2018; he later died of his injuries. We also stopped in for the "Battle of the Bike Lanes," event, hosted by the Gazette, for a glimpse on the public's perspective on the issue. 
In short, bike lanes and "road diets" are still a hot issue, further evidenced by our inbox this week.

Editor's note: The following have been submitted by Indy readers, unedited, un-fact-checked, and presented in whole. Join the conversation in the comment section below, or via email to letters@csindy.com

Save a life

Colorado Springs has 7431 miles of streets and is the 42nd largest city in America. Most of the streets in Colorado Springs have sidewalks on both sides of the streets for pedestrians to use for their transportation. This configuration has been a standard across America for a long time. Everything changes and more and more cities in America are taking steps for multi-modal transportation models. We now have fewer horses on the road and faster traffic; therefore, creating safe passage for pedestrians, bicyclists, vehicles, and mass transportation systems is critical. More people, more traffic. more congestion equates more demand for transportation access.

The greatest killer and cause of death of American children under 19 years old is vehicles. Bicycle lanes save lives and provide freedom of movement and access to the city. With good bicycle lanes, children can have access to school and church and living and not have to depend on an adult to drive them everywhere. Children can make healthy choices which will affect their future and their health.

Cities compete for recognition, population, jobs, business, and other indicators that they can offer a successful and high-quality lifestyle. The League of American Bicyclists ranks Colorado Springs as a Silver designation for “Bicycle Friendly Communities,” giving us the third level ranking beneath Platinum and Gold. The AARP advocates “Live-able Communities” for a healthy and happy population. Infrastructures such as bicycle lanes that are designed and built to accommodate citizens who live there, with consideration for all, represent a desirable, achievable milestone for our growing community. Colorado Springs success as a city in part rests on good bicycle infrastructure.

— Nard Claar

Restore our roads

I am against converting existing road lanes into bike lanes. Existing road lanes for vehicles should never be converted or re-purposed. There aren’t enough car lanes for the amount of vehicle traffic we have in Colorado Springs already. I truly hope that the bike lanes downtown will be removed and that our roads will be restored to what they used to be - two lanes in each direction for cars. If the city would like to pay for and build bike lanes next to the existing four lanes of traffic dedicated to vehicles (once restored to 2 lanes in each direction for vehicles) and without raising taxes, I might support that.

Though the mayor’s office and city council argue that these bike lanes improve safety, as a bike rider myself, I would never want to ride in a bike lane that is next to or shared with vehicle traffic. It’s too dangerous. I value my life too much to place myself next to unpredictable drivers and their heavy vehicles that will most likely kill you if there is any kind of collision.

Dedicated infrastructure for bicyclists is fine, but I cannot support losing existing vehicle lanes to bicyclists, and these bike lanes would need to be physically separated from vehicle traffic to possibly convince me to use them.

Please restore our roads to what they were. If anything, the city should be expanding our roads and vehicle infrastructure instead of dieting and restricting what little we currently have. The loss of an existing vehicle lane anywhere is unacceptable and makes commuting through Colorado Springs even more unpleasant than it should be.

— Eric Arnol-Martin

Let Democracy decide

To Mayor Suthers and all concerned, I do not know too many people in this community that want direction about what is “good for them” before a full exposition of all opinions relevant to the issues. Come on, do the bike lane poll! It might be instructive to observe the confused mess about these same sorts of street use problems developing in Denver — and fully developed in Hong Kong.

— Gael Bennett

Hood life

Dear Mayor Suthers,

This letter is written in response to the numerous emails, press releases and flyers we have received concerning road narrowing and the addition of bike lanes, specifically on Cascade Avenue in the Old North End (ONE) and the Near North End (NNE), in August 2018.

Restore our Roads, a small number of inconvenienced drivers, has been very vocal in stating opinions that are not representative of either affected neighborhoods nor are they supported by road-safety and pedestrian safety experts who provide information based on documented facts and statistics. Simply stated, road narrowing and traffic calming through the use of bicycle lanes, on-street parking, pedestrian crossings, etc., improve city vitality, support the stabilization and growth of downtown historic neighborhoods, support downtown economic growth and provide for all levels of urban campus life and safety (primary, secondary and post-secondary).

Please recall, Mr. Mayor, City Traffic Engineering Department sponsored and facilitated several meetings and workshops at which time the topic to be considered was effective traffic calming measures through road narrowing and, specifically, the addition of bicycle lanes. The meetings were open to all citizens of Colorado Springs. City Council members were encouraged to attend as were all members of the community with any vested interest in the proposed traffic engineering project. Many of those in attendance came with highly charged emotional “opinions.” Others took a more informed approach to the question being put forward and did their own research and information gathering prior to hearing the facts presented by the engineers and traffic experts. At the end of the process the vast majority of those residents in attendance made an informed decision, based on facts and knowledge that the narrowing of Cascade Avenue, and other urban roads, by using one of the existing traffic lanes for a bicycle lane would:

1. (Obviously) Increase bicycle safety
2. Increase pedestrian safety. Pedestrians now have only one automotive traffic lane to cross. Pedestrians also have better visibility as to oncoming automotive traffic.
3. Road narrowing through the use of bicycle lanes help reduce automotive traffic speed, thereby
a. Decreasing traffic noise through historic neighborhood and the urban center
b. Again, increasing both bicycle and pedestrian safety
4. The combined effects of each of the above result in increased property values in both the Near North End and the Old North End thereby ensuring the growth and stability of the neighborhoods that are essential to the prosperity and economic vitality of the historic downtown and all businesses and organizations within its boundaries.
5. The bicycle lanes are part of a larger strategic plan to provide for bicycle and pedestrian safety and access throughout the city, e.g., Fontanero Street and The Legacy Loop, and to
encourage the further development of historic tourism, sports and athletes based tourism and family tourism activities as major drawing points for Colorado Springs.
6. Finally, by increasing access to the urban center of Colorado Springs, bicycle lanes, pedestrian safety and, in general, increased outdoor safety, add economic vitality to Our City.

We have been told that the question of “bicycle lanes” is not a question to be put to our City Council. This is rather disingenuous. These people have been elected. They have been chosen as “leaders” of this community. It is their responsibility to lead and to inform their districts with substantiated facts. It is the responsibility of every council person to perform the necessary research or to consult proven experts and to understand complex issues and educate their constituents. It is not the responsibility of council members to succumb to arbitrary opinions or to abdicate their responsibilities by supporting highly non-scientific opinions regardless of the exhibited emotion and/or passion.

Let us remind all council members that Colorado Springs is composed of several districts but the districts when joined together are The City of Colorado Springs. The whole is (strictly) greater than the sum of the parts. No neighborhood or community should be degraded for the “perceived” convenience of another neighborhood or, for that matter, for personal self-interest.

It is understood that there is a small, vocal, opinionated, ill-informed group of individuals who fail to recognize and accept the above stated facts and information, facts and information that has been studied, implemented, and found successful in multiple cities across the United States and Europe. The leaders of this community, e.g., the Mayor’s office and City Council, need to recognize that in a public forum, one’s “opinion” is not equal to an informed fact based decision, regardless of the passionate and emotional behavior of the person or group behind the outcry of being “wronged.”

It is disappointing that both the Gazette Telegraph and the City of Colorado Springs are giving “credibility” to these individuals by holding and supporting a “conversation” on this topic which was previously decided in public forum. This “movement” is a 21st century equivalent of the 18th century Luddite movement: a purely uninformed emotional debate based on self-interest and lack of knowledge.

One final comment please. This is directed at the concession made by The City and Colorado College in the hopes of calming some of the impending storm. Let’s return to the early days of Colorado Springs and The Colorado College. General Palmer set a standard at that time, over a hundred years ago, when Palmer Hall was sited on the campus to specifically block the northward extension of Tejon Street and the street car line. Thus the building reflects the influence of the college on the growth of Colorado Springs.

Should not the leadership of Colorado Springs and Colorado College today recognize that the emotional and Pavlovian “car-centric” mindset shown by groups such as Restore Our Roads is
obsolete and has been shown to be detrimental to the prosperity and stability of the neighborhoods upon which the city of Colorado Springs and Colorado College are reliant? It defies logic to remove the pedestrian crossing areas most used by students, faculty and staff and to fail to recognize that Cascade Avenue and Nevada Avenue in fact “cut through” a college campus. Colorado College is a highly ranked institution of higher learning. It is very disappointing that more effort on the part of the college is not spent on educating the City and all citizens of Colorado Springs on the vital need for critical thinking. Further it is extremely disappointing that the City of Colorado Springs fails to apply critical thinking throughout their planning and implementation processes and allows uninformed individuals to force alternative solutions based on self-interest.

— Joyce and Steve Stivers, Near North End Neighborhood

A healthy diet

The premise that “road diets” creates traffic congestion is a prime example of a fear based headline since such a statement is contrary to published scientific studies by cities, states and the Federal Highway Administration which shows that road dieting is a highly effective way to reduces congestion and collisions. Just do an internet search on “Road Diets and the Federal Highway Administration Safety Program”.

Road dieting is taking a four lane street and creating two lanes of traffic in either direction with a center turn lane, allowing the extra space to be used for parking or bike lanes according to the Federal Highway Administration. Those who clamor against “road diets” either do not understand or know what a “road diet” is or the facts related to the benefits of road diets which include:

• Vehicle collisions reduced by 19% to 47%
• Reduction in the number of speeders without additional police presence along with calmer traffic flows, which reduces the number of crashes and the severity of crashes.
• Reduction in rear-end and left-turn crashes with a dedicated left-turn lane.
• Reducing in sideswipe crashes due to lane changes.
• Reduced right-angle crashes as side street motorists must cross only three lanes of traffic instead of four. Fewer lanes for pedestrians to cross.
• 60% reduction in vehicle/bicycle collisions when bike lanes are installed
• Reduction in traffic delays associated with left-turning traffic
• Allowing for safer left hand turns which not backing up traffic.
• Reduction in traffic not being delayed by cyclists in the traffic lanes
• Increase pedestrian traffic which increases interactions with local businesses
• Opportunity to install bicycle lanes or additional parking.

For those sowing fear and opposition to road diets; What is their plan to reduce to congestion and improve safety for all users (drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists) of our streets in comparison to the proven safety benefits provided by “road diets”?

I support putting more of our 4 lane streets on a diet.

— Gary Nesbit

For the greater good

Why is the city into using half of a street for a couple of bikes per hour and inconveniencing 100 motorists per hour??? There is an excellent bike path 1 block west of Cascade Ave. with no traffic, no stop lights and no stop signs!! Your reasoning for bike paths is just another ploy to give Colorado College what it wants and the public be damned.

— Mary Jean Nelson


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