Government Ruins Research Parkway
The City of Colorado Springs announced today (in part):
“The City announced today that the bicycle lane demonstration project along Research Parkway will be terminated. The bicycle lane striping and vertical delineators will be removed as soon as weather permits.
For the safety of the travelling public, the outside travel lane will continue to be a designated bicycle lane until lane markings can be changed to reflect vehicle travel.”
More information in an article in the Gazette.
Colorado Springs residents who live, visit or shop on the north side of town are familiar with Research Parkway. Between the Briargate Parkway and Academy Boulevard exits from I25, it is a main thoroughfare for residents on the east side of Colorado Springs to get to their jobs in Briargate, or downtown via the Interstate. And it’s a big, wide road as its name Research Parkway would indicate —3 lanes on each side, with a lovely landscaped median in the middle.
Imagine the surprise of those who use Research Parkway when, on September 28th 2016, the City of Colorado Springs removed one lane on each side of Research Parkway and turned them in to buffered bike lanes. This means that a full car lane is taken up with a buffered portion and a bike lane portion.
This seems odd, because Research Parkway already has a sidewalk on each side of the street. The south sidewalk is 10 feet wide and was constructed with the express intent of pedestrians and cyclists sharing that sidewalk.
In October, area residents launched a Facebook Page called Restore Research, and a website of the same name. On both pages, they have posted their reasons for being opposed to the bike lanes and the manner in which they were implemented. They also have a petition that will be delivered to City officials who are behind this project. They encourage petition signers to write a message to these officials in addition to simply signing the petition.
The change to Research Parkway isn’t the only change of concern to city residents. Another group called Safer CC is concerned about the safety of Colorado College students in the Old North End Neighborhood in the face of the city pushing a similar proposal there. Safer CC has responded with a website, Facebook page and petition of their own.
And all of this is happening while other cities —including Boulder Colorado— that have tried similar redesigns have rolled them back. Why? They cite worse congestion and more accidents.
So, why all the attention to bike lanes in the City of Colorado Springs? In March, the city hired Kate Brady to be its Senior Bicycle Planner. In an interview, Brady admits that, “change is hard,” but residents wonder why city officials made the decision without the consent of those who use Research Parkway. Mayor John Suthers said, “We do know that there is an adjustment factor,” while residents wonder why they should be the ones adjusting.
Colorado Springs currently has a Silver designation with the League of American Bicyclists. In order to have a Gold designation, the League suggest cities take three steps:
- Hire full-time bicycle coordinator and provide funding to implement a comprehensive program
- Continue to develop on-street bikeway network and improve crossings where trails intersect roadways
- Expand bicycle education efforts in elementary and secondary schools
Just doing some quick math here, it seems that the City of Colorado Springs is looking to raise its status with the League of American Bicyclists by making decisions without regard to the opinions of the citizens it impacts.
When I authored the book Government Ruins Nearly Everything, I encouraged ordinary Americans to take a stand when their government makes decisions that create problems or when it makes problems worse. I applaud the efforts of Restore Research and Safer CC for taking a stand to hold their government accountable.
Join these groups, sign their petitions, and demand a government that knows whom it serves.
12/3/16 Update: Restore Research has also started a GoFundMe Page to help with the expenses of signs, etc. Help with a few dollars if you can!
Fort Collins is making even more extreme policy decisions (at taxpayer expense) to earn a platinum designation. Seems like an awful lot of money, inconvenience and growth of government just so a bunch of bureaucrats can congratulate themselves on being oh so progressives.
I live right off Research and absolutely HATE the awful new bike lane that reduced traffic from 3 lanes to 2 each way and makes right turns onto the street dangerous! I’ve lived here 20 years and have rarely seen a bike on this street. Thousands in the neighborhood are giving our city council and traffic department an earful about what a short-sighted midbegotten lala land endeavor this is! So the leftist “roadless transportation” advocates who helped push this are driving up to the Albertsons shopping center at Research and Union with bikes on their cars and grouping up to ride this stupid lane to make it look like there is demand for this. There IS NOT! This is what happens when you have non-partisan elections and you have democrats on Colorado Springs City Council!! grumpy emoticon>:( The video link is courtesy of Rebecca Marshall Moore of Restore Research
Since the bike lanes were put in a couple months ago, I’ve seen the aftermath of at least five car accidents, including two in one day two Fridays ago. Plus, several near misses as people attempt hard right turns onto a now, even busier, street. And you can forget about turning left onto Research without a light during rush hour. All in the name of bike lanes which sit empty. The only time I’ve seen these lanes used by bicycles is during the two organized bike rides, where people who don’t live near Research transport their bikes by car to ride in them for a few minutes, load their bikes back on their cars, and drive away from this now less safe area thanks to these nonsensical bike lanes. Government bureaucracy at its worst, and not what I thought we were paying for when citizens passed the road improvement tax last year. Perhaps that should get repealed?
Some facts to help in this discussion:
The documented Research Parkway traffic counts through the corridor range from 20,000 to 22,000 vehicles per day depending on the location. The capacity of a 4-lane roadway with limited access like Research Parkway is 38,000 vehicles per day. No logically reason that Research needs 6 lanes and more lanes than I-25.
I ride & drive Research to and from work – there is no additional congestion with the buffered bike lanes.
* At least four public outreach meetings were conducted before the temporary striping for the buffered bike lanes were applied. Hard to say that this was a surprise.
Both vehicle drivers and cyclists have a right to use roads in Colorado:
*As a driver keeping cyclists in their own lane keeps them out of the flow of vehicle traffic. Removal of bike lanes and not having bike lanes only forces cyclists and cars to be in the same lane.
* As a cyclist having a protected lane allows me to be safe from 3,000 lbs vehicles – some of which are being driven by drivers who are distracted and or speeding.
* As a taxpayer – I appreciate the economic value that cyclists add to our economy and the additional tax revenue they generate. For each $1 dollar invested in cycling infrastructure $1.80 to $2.70 in direct economic benefits are received.
* As a supporter of local business – cyclists help support local businesses.
* As a home owner – my property value is higher if my home is near a bike path since 12 out of 14 home buyer want a new home near a bike path.
Those opposed to the buffered bike lanes – seem to entirely people who do not bike on Research. Prior to the buffer bike lanes – Research was too dangerous to ride a bike on. I have not heard of anyone opposing bike lanes also state that as a bike rider they want to and prefer to cycle on roads without a bike lane.
The agruements against bike lanes appear to the same emotional reasons promoted by international car and oil companies who promote their growth and pollution by claiming that transportation by cars is the only way.
I prefer a community to provides freedom of choice vs. one that seeks to dictate only one means of transportation on its citizens. Even if I did not own a bike – I would support bike lanes as a means to reduce pollution, a car center culture that wastes resources, increase the health of individuals and for the additional economic benefits cyclists add to our community.
Respectfully, those are absurd talking points. I’ve heard them before, in that order I believe, from a very close bicycle enthusiast friend. Interesting.
*Road capacity is based on design, the speed limit, and other factors. AND is really only relevant in this case during rush hour, where it now seems to be below desired capacity.
*There already is a bike path parallel to the parkway. This bike lane brings the cyclists closer to the cars. Does that make sense..?
*Cyclists support local taxes..? OK, alot of people do. That has nothing to do with removing two lanes from the parkway and turning them into a second bike path parallel to the bike path next to it.
*For every dollar invested in bicycle infrastructure, $1.80-2.70 is received..? Is that some kind of sad joke..? Who comes up with this..?
*Home values go up. Maybe, maybe not. Home values are based on a myriad of things. But again, there already is a bike path along side of Research Parkway, so it’s a moot point.
*The argument against the bike lanes are emotional and from oil companies..? Really? Oil companies are out to squash this..? Huh..? Did you really think about what you are copy/pasting before you did it..?
For my part, I love that Colorado Springs has so many bike paths. I think it’s great to ride all over the city and to be able to stay on safe bike paths for much of it. I am happy the city is investing in more bike path/lanes, but it should be reasonable and thought out. And when the buffered bike lanes on Research have basically only been used during the two organized rides where most (all?) of the riders drove there to participate, it seems to me like it just might be a bad idea.
I believe you are right Calvin. Gan isn’t making logical sense and sounds like a left-wing activist, hoping that someday there will be more bicycle traffic in the Springs on Research Parkway. For the Garden of the gods area I can see widening the roads and making wide bicycle paths, but on Research? He said 12 out of 14 home buyers want a new home near a bike path. Are you kidding me? That would have to mean that 6/7 of home buyers are bicyclists. To be nearby a park with shade trees, walking paths, a playground and picnic tables – yes, I do believe homeowners would like to have one of those nearby. But a bike path? They have their place. Who would want to ride a bicycle right alongside heavy traffic, be worried about swerving cars and have to deal with the noise and stench of diesel fuel? The very wide sidewalk parallel but away from the road is nicer for the cyclists, safer for them as well and won’t impede traffic in an area that is growing by leaps and bounds with new apartments and residential developments, which will bring in more and more traffic. Sounds like more political correctness from the govt. to me. More restrictions and regulations, heavier traffic and accidents, and foolhardy decisions based on the pressure of a few.
I live near research, I sometimes bike to work and I bike for recreation. What I’ve seen on this site regarding this issue is a population brain washed by big-oil. The automobile is King and anyone who says otherwise must be a lefty. Everyday when I go to work I have a choice between taking my car or my bicycle. Takes more time to ride my bike, but when I subtract the hours that I don’t go to the gym or go jogging to stay fit, I’m ahead of the game. I also have the pleasure of knowing I did not pollute the environment, did not waste money on gas, or use a finite resource. There is nothing more ironic in my mind like seeing all those cars parked in front of a gym. You all have that choice too, it seems the people who praise liberty and freedom the loudest are also the most chained to their cars for transportation.
It is safer for a bike to be on the street than on the sidewalk. I offer this challenge to anyone on here. We will ride our bikes from Powers to Chapel Hills on the sidewalk next to Research. Then on the way back we will ride on the street.
Wrong. The numbers for four-lanes that you site is not applicable to Colorado Springs. The city traffic engineering manual actually states that the lower threshold for a six-lane road like Research is 25,000 vehicles. So, current traffic counts are NOT as far off as you mention. However, as the Springs continues to grow and with the brand new apartments being built on the west end plus the growth happening on the east end it is not out of the question that Research will reach that in the near future. The new bike lanes have eliminated acceleration and deceleration lanes which are necessary for safety on parkways this size. It is a mess and this corridor was not even identified as a priority in the non-motorized transportation plan.
Are not the mayor and city council Republican? If so, why do they act like progressives?
Obviously, Mayor Sutlers is trying to appear more liberal to run for governor.
Thanks for writing about this!
This thing has been a mess. It’s caused accidents and endangered drivers all for what? The city wants to slow the road, but they haven’t achieved that. All they’ve done is caused accidents and made the speed that people are traveling more dangerous. Just wait until the snow and ice results in a “platoon” crash — the city calls it “platooning” when they force everyone together and use the slower drivers to block everyone else.
As for the bikers, I suspect they were an afterthought brought into this just to create some group to support the change. I live on Research and am on it every day multiple times, but have only seen a couple bikers in the past few months. Even City sponsored the couple of bike events produced few bikers and most of those came from other parts of town. This was never about bikers.
Honestly, if the city is interested in bikers, it should build them a legitimate bike lane that doesn’t interfere with traffic or cause them to vanish in your peripheral vision. If they want to make the street more safe, return the third lane.
The Research Parkway Demonstration Project was very poorly planned and implemented – even the homeowners whose property backed into Research were not contacted. Signage did not appear until the end of October and even today there’s no sign about the bike lanes being a “demonstration” and how citizens can provide input.
The bike lanes are an ugly distraction to drivers. Accidents and near-accidents are a common occurrence. It is impossible to safely merge onto Research from a side street, U-turns are very difficult, wait times at intersections increased, congestion increased and what used to be a beautiful road is now full of white lines, signs, poles – all for few neighborhood cyclists who think riding in the street is preferable to the wide sidewalk that is already designated as a bike path. For safety purposed alone, this project needs to be terminated immediately. Yes, the cycling clubs in town love the buffered-bike lane concept, but the majority of these members do not live in the impacted neighborhoods and do not use Research on a daily basis. It is inappropriate for these individuals to dictate the street configuration for which they have no vested interest.
As a taxpayer, I am outraged that 2C money is funding lane reductions and incorporating rarely-used, dangerous buffered bike lanes. I want the pot holes fixed.
I agree that the addition of bicycle lanes on Research Parkway was not well thought out and that the community who lives and works on and around Research Parkway was not adequately informed or given the opportunity to voice an opinion or preference before the City proceeded, based on their own agenda, to implement the change.
I live in a neighborhood very close to Rangewood and Research. I’ve lived in this area since before there was a stoplight at that intersection and have shopped, banked, and frequented medical facilities in the area for all those years. In all that time, I am not exaggerating when I say that I can count on one hand the number of bicyclists I’ve seen on Research Parkway! There is simply not a need. The new design creates hazards at every intersection when attempting a right hand turn onto Research. The space allowed for a driver to prepare for a right hand turn from Research onto a neighborhood street is short and requires them to brake and slow before crossing into the turn lane, which slows down the traffic in that lane. Rush hour traffic has become unnecessarily slow and crowded. I’m disappointed in city officials that disregard the majority of it’s citizens, in fact ruining two lanes of a well traveled and fully functional, free flowing street and replacing it with bicycle lanes that are minimally(at best)used by a small minority of citizens, all to get a “gold star” for being politically correct.
I agree with all the anti-bicycle lanes comments. Those barriers can really damage cars when the roads are icy and there will be no bicyclists. It’s probably already been noted but there are few east-west routes in the Springs as it is. Woodmen is a mess with the construction on Union and Academy. Austin Bluffs is also heavy and congested. Cyclists belong on scenic paths with less congestion where the sport is more enjoyable.
[…] and conservative activist Laura Carno brought our attention to a situation in Colorado Springs where a lane of traffic was removed from Research Parkway and replaced with a so-called buffered […]
This winter when we have snowy icy roads that will cover the white marked bike lanes, I’ll just act like there is a third lane and drive my car in that third lane to my street, Rangewood. Because that’s exactly what other drivers will do who have not driven their cars on Research Parkway and are not familiar with this street. They will just go around the little white posts when they are on Research and then drive in that third lane which is the buffered bike lane. I can’t wait!