Saturday, April 25, 2015

The cycle of love

Posted By on Sat, Apr 25, 2015 at 7:27 AM

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It’s no secret that Colorado is an outdoor recreation state, and Colorado Springs an outdoor recreation city. Just look around; hikers, runners and cyclists abound. Around here cycling isn’t just a form of exercise and recreation, it’s also a form of transportation for many people. More than that, two recent reports published by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) says that cycling may be a key to future economic growth in the Pikes Peak region ("Pedal pushers," News, April,15).

Interestingly, support for bike trails hasn’t always been embraced in the Springs, even in the recent past. In the early ‘90s, when the Garden of the Gods Park master plan was being developed, there was a push to eliminate all mountain biking trails in the park. According to Cory Sutela, president of Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates, they were going to "follow the lead" of Boulder and ban mountain bikes from the park.

The move caused a group of cyclists to fight the elimination of bike trails, working within the master plan process, and eventually led to some trails in the park being available to bikes in addition to new ones. The group became the precursor to Medicine Wheel, a participant in the annual Give! campaign, which continued to advocate for cyclists and building and maintaining bike trails. The group has since formalized its mission “to seek synergy with other trail users and cooperate with other groups,” according to Sutela, and designs its trails to be friendly to all users.

Today, if you’ve ridden a mountain bike around the Springs, chances are you’ve been on a trail that was either built or maintained by Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates. The group recently built an extension of the Chamberlain Trail, providing a safe connection between the Stratton Open Space and North Cheyenne Canon Park, and is currently working on a trail project in Red Rocks Canyon Open Space.

Whether it’s in our favorite parks or on our city streets, it’s obvious to see that the Springs is rapidly reaching traffic saturation. If bike trails and lane projects are going to expand in this region, it seems sensible that groups such as Medicine Wheel and many others would need to be an integral part of the process. Says Sutela: “The city really needs a bike planner.”

Bob Falcone is a firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and small business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 23 years. He is the board president of the Friends of Cheyenne Canon and a member of the El Paso County Parks Advisory Board. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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