Last week one of our members (Nanci) emailed different City officials, including City Councilwoman Jill Gaebler, to oppose road narrowing. Gaebler responded asking whether Nanci considered Cascade Avenue a thoroughfare. Here is Nanci’s response:
East of I-25, there are four very obvious major roads that can be considered thoroughfares transecting through the middle of Colorado Springs. From east to west, these routes are Academy, Union, Nevada, and Cascade. Academy and Union are obviously the two major routes, and while both continue well north and south of downtown, they also cross each other well north of downtown. Nevada is the next busiest while also being designated an I-25 business route, as well as a silent merging of Highways 87 and 85. Cascade, while being the least busy of the four, and not nearly as long from north to south, still carries a significant amount of traffic, as it is the first thoroughfare east of the interstate.
The traffic on Cascade is particularly problematic in that the majority of the thoroughfare goes through residential areas. Also, the Penrose main hospital is bordered on both sides by Cascade and Nevada. Then, as traffic proceeds south on Cascade, it enters what seems to be the increasingly restricted, if not eventually closed, Colorado College Campus.
I have sat at the intersection of Cascade and Cache Le Poudre, twice, in the single file driving lane, waiting through two complete light cycles, because traffic was so backed up both to the north and to the south, while people were trying to turn left from the driving lane; both times were in the early evening, and I saw no bikes in the biking lane.
Also, bike lanes are a problem the closer you get to downtown. At the right hand turn off of Cascade onto Uintah going west, cyclists are taking their lives into their hands trying to cross north to south. I have seen only one cyclist in the bike lane waiting at that intersection. That cyclist, more than a recreational cyclist, wore Olympics biking spandex. I have seen regular folks on bikes, always waiting on the sidewalks trying to get across. Before the creation of bike lanes, Cascade and Uintah was already bad. Now it is horrible.
One evening, pretty late and very dark, I counted 20 bikes headed north on Cascade. Very impressive. However, it doesn’t fill much of a bicycle quota for a lane that is vacant most all of the time.
A person jogging in the street and a woman pushing an infant in a stroller in the street, are tragedies waiting to happen. And no matter whether it is caused by a child or an adult in the street, it will be the fault of the motorist.
We have excellent, seldom-used bike routes in place already. The city should be promoting and building onto those infrastructures that are already in place. It is absurd to be closing much needed vehicle lanes and designating their use for the occasional bicycle. It is particularly dangerous to have pedestrians using them for jogging and women pushing baby strollers, while others allow their little children to ride tiny bicycles in the street. Yes, I have seen that also. Just a matter of time before a five year old decides to go out biking on the street by themselves without telling mommy or daddy.
Cascade IS a busy street. Even when Penrose Main eventually relocates west of I-25, it will STILL be a busy street. And, year long, regardless of the weather, and especially through the winter months, you will still see few or NO cyclists on Cascade.
Are the small numbers of cyclists using the biking lane really a justification for creating the congestion and traffic problems we now are experiencing in trying to get into downtown? Colorado Springs has a population of a little over a half million, with the metropolitan area having just under a half million. You may slow traffic a bit, but you are creating more dangerous situations. And for what purpose?
If you truly want to promote commerce in the downtown area, if you would like more of the population to come downtown to shop and visit, they won’t be coming on bicycles. If they want to come downtown to skate, they won’t come on bicycles. If you would like to promote night life and entertainment, the majority of them will NOT be coming on bicycles.
It appears that, in trying to cater to a very small demographic, you have created significant traffic problems, as well as chaotic use of Cascade Avenue.