The car free in Colorado Springs experiment has successfully concluded (beginning of March). The hypothesis, that our city is not walkable, was accurate. We are still an automobile dependent community. Even in a location efficient community where I work five blocks from my house and both are less than two miles to the primary destinations of Downtown and Old Colorado City, it is not walkable.
The majority of our community is completely dependent on our personal vehicles.
Contributors to Automobile Dependency
The primary contributors that make us automobile dependent are: 1) an abysmal transit system; 2) lack of sidewalks; 3) fear of safety with the high transient population along trails.
I’m not going to go into depth about sidewalks and transient activity on this post, because frankly, it’s taken me a month to get what I have down out to you all. All three need addressed. They need to be addressed under the new Mayoral administration.
Our politicians need to stop with the band aid approach for transit. Putting a transit system in with one bus per hour IS checking the box. It’s not solving anything and it’s embarrassing.
IF Colorado Springs wants the transit system to be functional, it needs to be appropriately sized and funded. It needs to be accessible for the Choice riders to ride without major penalty. I’m not saying that it should be faster to ride transit than to take a personal vehicle (although that would be amazing). But it shouldn’t take someone who lives/works in a location efficient setting up to 10 times longer to get from point A to point B via transit than by personal automobile. That is not functional and inhibits our community ability for having choices in their mobility. We are furthering to make Colorado Springs more automobile dependent. We are removing choice in how our community and visitors to Colorado Springs spends their money.
The actual size of the buses should be smaller, less sterile and celebrated. Many cities have branded buses that look different and are special. Some look like old time trolleys or old streetcars, which is low hanging fruit for a east-west bus from Downtown to Manitou Springs. These are opportunities to increase ridership, both from our residents and the tourists.
Here is some data for you from my experiences with varying modes of travel to get from my office (142 South Raven Mine) to the Downtown City Administration Building (30 South Nevada). Keep in mind, these two places are 1.7 miles apart as the crow flies, theoretically location efficient.
Average Time with Varying Modes of Transportation
- Personal automobile: Average 10 minutes, including parking and paying the meter;
- Bicycle: Average 17 minutes, including locking my bike up;
- Uber/Lyft: Average 20 minutes, including waiting for the Uber/Lyft to arrive;
- Transit: Average 50 minutes (can be as little as 20 minutes if I catch the X:53 bus to 8th Street and don’t miss the transfer shortly after to Downtown… could also be 1:20 minutes if I miss it).
- Walk: Average 45 minutes, this becomes a hybrid approach with transit if/when you miss your bus.
This experiment has been eye opening for me and I recommend trying it – for a day or week, not two months in winter :). It was sometimes gratifying and liberating… other times, cold and inconvenient.
We have a Mayoral election underway, in fact, it’s in a runoff between two people that I believe would do a fantastic job in each of their own ways. My hope is that both candidates, Yemi Mobolade and Wayne Williams, understand the importance of transit to our city’s health, viability and prosperity. I don’t believe that any of our past mayors have understood it. It has not been a priority. Our system today is dysfunctional and merely present to check a box.