“I don’t care if one more 65 or older person moves to this city.”

The Gazette’s “Battle of the Bike Lanes” panel last night overall went very well. Seats for perhaps 200-250 people were all filled, with plenty of additional people standing. Overall both the audience and the panelists remained civil, but there was one moment when the audience did jeer a response.

As one justification for pushing certain kinds of bike infrastructure, City Councilmember Jill Gaebler argued that younger people don’t drive as much as their predecessors and are more interested in bike amenities. She explained,

As the Mayor has said many times now, and I will just speak his words, it is important for this city to add three to four thousand 35-year-olds every year for the next who-knows-how-many years because we need them to be our work force, to take our tech jobs, to take those software designer jobs. The Mayor will actually go further and say “I don’t care if one more 65 or older person moves to this city. But I need those three to four thousand…”

The audience did not appreciate the comment. Here is a clip:

We would be interested to learn how the City arrives at the 3-4k number for Millennials. According to US Census data on Colorado Springs from 20102017:

  • Population has grown by almost 10% in just 7 years.
  • The amount of people age 25-34 has grown 14%, even higher growth rate than the population as a whole.
  • Colorado Springs is younger than the US national average. In 2017:
    • National median age was 38.1 years old, but the Springs’ median age was 34.6.
    • Nationally people 25-34 made up 13.8% of the country; in the Springs they were 15.5%.

In other words, the Springs isn’t struggling to thrive or to attract younger people.

Moreover, people don’t choose where to move primarily based on bike infrastructure. It is probably a consideration for some, however minor, but Millennials, like most people, decide where to move largely based on housing and jobs.

We are skeptical that pushing specific types of bike infrastructure on a population that disagrees is crucial or even necessary to ensure Colorado Springs thrives. It certainly doesn’t seem like sufficient reason to dismiss the very citizens who have lived, worked in, and contributed to the community the longest.

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