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City to work with PPACG on regional bike trail plan
Colorado Springs is setting off on an ambitious path to improve the city’s bike trails and biking infrastructure, working in tandem with a regional group to form a seamless, coordinated “nonmotorized transportation” system in the Pikes Peak region.
The city’s master bike plan, which focuses on on-street use, hasn’t been updated since the mid-’90s; its master trails plan, which targets off-street use, was last updated in 2000.
“Colorado Springs has changed a little bit since then,” said Allen Beauchamp of the Colorado Springs Cycling Club. “We have a woefully outdated plan ... so there’s been a big push to get a new one done.”
City officials could have gone it alone, but they figured it would be wiser to be part of a regional effort to leverage funding and brainpower. Colorado Springs City Council agreed, and on Tuesday gave the OK to an agreement with the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments for the two entities to work together.
PPACG is in the midst of updating its long-range “Non-motorized Transportation Plan,” which also looks at pedestrian needs. Under the agreement, Colorado Springs will create its own “subplan” to improve the biking infrastructure within its borders, but will collaborate and coordinate with PPACG.
“We started talking with the city — we like to collaborate with local entities — and figured out we could get more done together than working individually, and it would reduce duplication of effort,” said Craig Casper, regional transportation director for PPACG. “And we just get better coordination. Everybody is on the same page.”
The city will contribute $85,000 to PPACG to create the subplan, with $70,000 coming from the city’s bike tax proceeds, and $15,000 from a grant.
It’s too early to tell what the plan will look like, and the public will have plenty of opportunity to weigh in, but officials with the city’s parks department are aware of some problems — such as trails that don’t connect to each other.
“I think some of the very early feedback we’ve gotten are about sometimes crucial mission pieces, like a short piece to fill a gap or connect a trail and on-street bike trail,” said Chris Lieber of the Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department.
Woodland Park and El Paso County also have tied into the PPACG effort, Casper said, and will contribute funds. Like Colorado Springs, PPACG wants to identify barriers to a seamless system and see what it might take to link bike routes through all parts of El Paso County and up Ute Pass into Teller County.
“We’re trying to figure out what we can do to create a big unified system,” said Casper, who expects the regional plan to be completed by next February.
Beauchamp welcomes the regional approach. It hopes it will provide for more uniformity in signs and trail markings, encourage more biking for commuting, improve connectivity between trails and make it easier for bikers to get from Point A to Point B without having to cross busy streets.
“This is a huge deal,” he said. “We have the Portlands of the world, and the Minneapolises, and the other cities that have been making a lot of effort in the last 10 to 15 years, working on a comprehensive nonmotorized plan. If shows that if you develop a very solid plan and fund the creation of what you plan for, it can be pretty much very transformational for a community.”