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Colorado Springs Emphasizes Bike Friendliness

with Big Plans for the Future

The summer season might have ended. Not so for biking season. Fall in Colorado Springs might just be the best time to keep your bike ready for a weekend escape or after-work jaunt to enjoy autumn colors and the cooler, even crisp, temperatures.

Let’s take it a big step further. Why not enjoy riding your bike as an everyday part of life?

“We’re in the process of putting together a bicycle master plan to acknowledge that the city wants a more bicycle-friendly community,” city senior bicycle planner Kate Brady says. “We’re not giving that to them right now. The master plan is a chance to see how we can do that to ultimately create a low-stress and high-comfort bike network that can make bicycle riding easier and more convenient.”

Brady is at the forefront of big plans to make Colorado Springs a designated Gold-Level Bicycle Friendly City in the years ahead, perhaps being mentioned with its contemporaries, such as Minneapolis, Portland and Denver, as bike-friendly hot spots.

Heading into the summer travel season, RewardExpert ranked Colorado Springs as a top five Up & Coming city in its ranking of the year’s Best Destinations to Explore by Bike. The reward-program company noted the city’s emerging bike-share program in the works and creation of more designated bike lanes as key reasons for making the list.

Those improvements weren’t just made to reel in tourists and visitors for the summer months, though. Instead, the master plan’s big picture includes all cyclists from all levels, from the mountain biker in training to the one who’d rather bike five blocks to work than drive and hunt for a precious downtown parking spot.

“We want to be the kind of city where the everyday citizen can feel safe, on bike or on foot, all the time, regardless of age or ability,” says Susan Edmondson, the president and CEO of the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs. “If I had a safer route from my neighborhood to downtown, you bet I’d take advantage of that.”

According to city numbers, Colorado Springs has 100 miles of on-street bicycle routes, nearly 120 miles of urban bike trails and more than 60 miles of unpaved mountain bike trails.

Those numbers, however, seem to be offset by the frustration of many riders who just don’t feel comfortable with the current condition of many roads and the limited connectivity between bicycle facilities.

Already, change has taken place, not just downtown, but all over the city, in the name of bike-friendliness.

From buffered lanes, flasher beacons, contra-flow bike lanes along with protected and parking-protected areas, these additions all are the result from years of planning and public feedback as the master plan heads to final recommendations and final plans.

Another vision of the master plan is improving the network of connectivity from downtown to Legacy Loop, a 10-mile trail, park and recreation that encircles the downtown area. Roadway projects performed earlier this year created a connection across the Loop from the Pikes Peak Greenway to Shooks Run. 

Also, bike share is called “an important component toward Colorado Springs becoming a bicycle-friendly city as it provides transportation for visitors and local residents.” Implementation is planned for 2018.

To that end, the overall objective of the master plan isn’t to boast of an impressive number of bike lanes or miles of trails, but how it all connects.

“We’re looking forward and are excited for the future,” Brady says. “We want to make connections and get people where they need and want to go, and we want to provide the facilities that work well for people and work for our city, too. There are good reasons why the city wants to give people choices of how to get around. Not everyone has the access or ability to drive a car, but everyone wants to get around.” 

For additional information on the current initiatives to improve pedestrian and cycling efforts in Colorado Springs, visit coloradosprings.gov/bike. There, you can view the master plan, see maps and read more about current projects, along with the latest on bike safety and ways to get involved.

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