Creating Greater Support for Bikes:
Colorado Springs has an incredible number and type of bicycling organizations, programs, and events. This energy should be used to create a city identity that includes bicycling. And because the City has committed to becoming a Gold-Level Bicycle Friendly Community, increased bicycle-related education and encouragement efforts, stronger traffic enforcement, and better planning and evaluation processes are needed.
This chapter presents recommendations for new bicycling programs, focusing on those that will be most effective at strengthening support for bicycling in Colorado Springs.
These actions are critical to achieving the goals of COS Bikes! Organizations best suited to shepherd these programs and policies through implementation are identified, recognizing that the City’s resources and reach are limited and that community partners are essential to success. Lead organizations may change over time as new partners emerge.
2.01 Begin Near-Term Program Recommendations First
The recommendations that follow include some near-term actions that could be completed relatively quickly or easily. The City should take these actions first, concurrent with mentation discussed in Chapter 4. By creating these programs, the City will lay a foundation for a community that recognizes the importance of bicycling to many of its residents, which in turn could support more ambitious Vision Network implementation.
Encouragement programs and events help create and maintain a strong and fun bicycle community. They are focused on generating enthusiasm and excitement for bicycling and often include a social element, such as a community bike ride. The following recommendations aim to reach all types of bicyclists, but especially those who need a little encouragement to ride.
2.02 Increase Partnerships with Community Bicycle Organizations
The most bicycle friendly cities are ones where the City government and community partners have worked together towards common goals. COS Bikes! recommends forming a strong relationship between the City and bicycle advocates to realize the Plan vision and goals.
In 2015, the city’s first bicycle transportation advocacy organization, Bike Colorado Springs (BCS), was founded to promote bicycling. BCS has advocated for better bike infrastructure and collaborated with other advocacy groups to generate support for biking. BCS and the City regularly meet to discuss bicycle efforts; these meetings should continue to build and formalize the relationship between the organizations. Through this coordination, BCS and the City’s public works department should identify and implement a mutually beneficial project to strengthen Colorado Springs’ bike culture.
Lead: Public Works, BCS | Time: Long-term
2.03 Hold Open Streets Events
By closing a corridor to motorized traffic on a pre-determined day, Open Streets events allow people to walk, bike, skateboard, run, and roll freely without motor vehicles. Events like these allow people to comfortably bike on streets that may not be bicycle friendly today. More importantly, they provide positive experiences for all types of riders, especially the Interested but Concerned, and demonstrate the potential benefits of re-configuring public space.
The City and its partners should implement Open Streets events and seek ways to ensure participation from neighborhoods across the city. Open Streets locations should be chosen based on the popularity of surrounding destinations, ease of controlling access points, street surface condition, and anticipated support from implementing partners. Garden of the Gods Park, along with other locations, could be considered as a pilot location.
Lead: Public Works, Parks & Recreation | Time: Near-term
2.04 Promote and Enhance the City Bike Map
The City’s online bike map inventories on-street bicycle facilities, off-street trails, and bike routes. The City should increase awareness of the bike map with the help of community partners. In 2018, in coordination with the launch of PikeCycle bike share, a more focused downtown paper map should be created, with an emphasis on providing for tourists and people new to bicycling. As the City implements the Vision Network (see Chapter 3) and major infrastructure changes occur, the map(s) should be updated. Lead: Public Works, Parks & Recreation | Time: Near-term
2.05 Create a Bicycle Loving Business program
Bicycle friendly business programs promote both bicycling and local business. BCS is developing a pilot “Bicycle Loving Business” program, in which businesses become “Bicycle Loving” by providing amenities and benefits like bike parking, discounts, and rewards for riding, while bicyclists support businesses with their dollars. This program will lend visibility to the importance of bicycling in Colorado Springs, while incentivizing biking and making riding more fun. Continuing with their pilot, BCS should develop a formal Bicycle Loving Business program, focusing initial efforts on Bicycle Priority Areas (see Chapter 4). Downtown Colorado Springs would be an ideal area to begin because the Bicycle Loving Business program can bolster bike share and downtown-focused network implementation.
Lead: BCS, Downtown Partnership | Time: Near-term
2.06 Develop a Bike Ambassador Program
Bike ambassadors provide peer-to-peer education and bicycle-related outreach. Bike Ambassadors often assume several roles: teachers of bicycle skills and learn-to-ride classes, event hosts, and in-the-field bicycle infrastructure educators.
The City, in partnership with BCS and other bicycle organizations, should develop a Bike Ambassador Program to provide bicycle education and outreach. The program should explore new and innovative ways to message bicycle safety effectively to the community and, where possible, coordinate efforts with implementation of the Vision Network. Specific recommendations for the Bike Ambassador Program include:
- Conduct neighborhood-based bicycle education and outreach
- Foster partnerships with organizations like Bicycle Colorado to provide bicycle safety education to a wider, more inclusive audience
- Provide additional in-the-field, infra-structure based education and outreach in conjunction with implementation of the Vision Network
- Work with area higher education including Colorado College and University of Colorado Colorado Springs to provide campus-focused education and outreach initiatives
- Coordinate with groups like Kids on Bikes and CS Cycling club on bicycle safety
Lead: Public Works | Time: Long-term
Education gives people of all ages the skills and confidence to ride. Several organizations in Colorado Springs provide bicycle education for people to learn how to ride a bike or improve their bicycling skills and these programs should be continued. New education program recommendations presented below fill existing bicycle education gaps.
2.07 Expand In-School Education for Grades 5 through 8
Bicycle education classes, whether learn-to-ride or bicycle safety classes, are often targeted toward school children because they are enthusiastic learners and early bike instruction fosters the development of lifelong habits. Kids on Bikes offers bicycle safety classes for elementary school-aged children, teaching them to safely cross busy streets and of the importance of wearing helmets, among other topics. Kids on Bikes should continue its in-school education, while expanding bike-related programming for children in grades 5-8, an age when children seek greater independence but are not able to drive. In addition, the City should continue supporting Safe Routes to School work throughout the city.
Lead: Kids on Bikes, Middle Schools | Time: Long-term
2.08 Enhance Bicycle and Motorist Education
Increased bicyclist and motorist education was rated as a high priority by the public at the COS Bikes! open house. Greater awareness of safety, laws, and mutually respectful behavior is needed among both bicyclists and motorists to reduce conflicts. The City and its partners should create a program to foster better understanding of safety needs of all users. This may include bicycle related educational materials covering the rules of the road or safe driving and biking tips. These materials should be coupled with enforcement recommendation 2.11.
Lead: Public Works, Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) | Time: Near-term
2.09 Develop a Media Strategy for Bicycle Messaging
Broad community support is needed to realize the vision set forth in COS Bikes! To educate residents and decision makers, a comprehensive media strategy should be developed to promote consistent and accurate messaging about bicycle projects, enforcement, safety, and funding sources, among other topics, and their overall impact on the city.
Lead: Communications, Public Works, Downtown Partnership | Time: Near-term
2.10 Develop a Trail Etiquette Campaign
The Vision Network presented in Chapter 3 includes comfortable and accessible on- and off-street networks, but feedback from the public during COS Bikes! suggests that speeding bicyclists, unleashed dogs, and distracted or unaware users hinder enjoyment and comfort for all users of the multiuse trail network. The City should develop a trail etiquette campaign to promote safe speeds and friendly behavior on trails. The campaign could include signs, public service announcements, speed measurement signs, or trail stewards. While COS Bikes! focuses on on-street bicycling, safe and comfortable trails are also an important piece of a complete bike network.
Lead: Parks & Recreation | Time: Long-term
Enforcement plays a vital role in correcting improper and unsafe behavior by bicyclists and motorists. The most common factor contributing to bicycle crashes was largely behavioral: a driver failing to yield was responsible for almost a quarter of the reported crashes in Colorado Springs from 2011 through 2015 (see Appendix A). Although enforcement is a critical part of a bicycle friendly community, enforcement programs require a commitment from the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD). Because CSPD resources are limited, COS Bikes! recommends two new enforcement programs to strategically target actions to improve traffic safety for everyone. As resources increase, consideration should be given to increasing enforcement and providing bicycle related officer training.
2.11 Explore Diversion Programs
Explore the creation of diversion programs for both bicyclists and motorists, in lieu of traffic fines. Through a diversion program, a person who breaks the law would take a bicycle safety education class instead of receiving a fine and/or appearing in court, focusing on positive reinforcement and community engagement.
Lead: CSPD, BCS | Time: Long-term
2.12 Consider Automated Motor Vehicle Enforcement
Explore the possibility of automated enforcement such as red light cameras or speed cameras. Automated enforcement is an effective approach to improving traffic safety with limited resources by enforcing speed limits and red light stop compliance. Safer streets, without speeding and red light running, make the frequency and severity of crashes less likely. Safe streets benefit everyone, including bicyclists.
In 2011, Colorado Springs removed its red light cameras, so public engagement about red light cameras and speed cameras, including their safety and revenue benefits, is an essential part of this recommendation.
Lead: CSPD | Time: Long-term
Evaluation and Planning
Evaluation and planning serve to track progress in implementing a bicycle plan and to identify what’s working, what’s not, and where additional effort is needed. Developing this understanding will require greater attention to data collection and clear metrics for gauging success. Proper evaluation also adds power to overall messaging of the “why” of bicycle projects, which will be critical to increased understanding for and support of bike programs and infrastructure in Colorado Springs.
2.13 Develop and Conduct Recurring Citywide Surveys
Recurring surveys provide elected officials and decision makers with objective data for determining the City’s performance and attitudes related to a variety of topics. They are an important part of providing the highest quality of services to residents, businesses, and visitors. Along the Front Range, the cities of Arvada, Fort Collins, and Boulder conduct annual or biannual resident surveys that measure satisfaction related to quality of life and community amenities, including bicycle infrastructure.
In Colorado Springs, a citywide survey would be useful in recognizing the importance of bicycling infrastructure and programs by: providing data on how many people bicycle for different trip purposes, to track over time; and providing information on people’s attitudes and satisfaction towards existing bicycling facilities. If desired, the survey could be focused downtown to help support the COS Bikes! target of a downtown bicycle mode share of 10 percent.
Lead: Communications, Downtown Partnership | Time: Long-term
2.14 Conduct Pre-and Post-Studies of New Bicycle Infrastructure Projects
As the proposed Vision Network is implemented, the City should evaluate the effects of major new bicycle infrastructure projects on ridership, safety, and other measures, depending on the project. The data should be publicly available and used to tell a story about the City’s investments. Studies should be paired with appropriate messaging about the time it can take to realize the impacts of new projects.
Lead: Public Works, El Paso County Public Health | Time: Near-term
2.15 Maintain Better Crash Data to Improve Safety
Safer streets for all modes of transportation are needed in Colorado Springs. Bicyclists were involved in between 100 and 125 crashes each year from 2011 through 2015. Almost half of all bike crashes involve an injury or fatality (46 percent), compared to only 8 percent of all crashes.
Reliable, consistent, and sufficiently detailed crash and near miss crash data is essential to improving traffic safety. By understanding what types of problems are occurring, where, and in what context, the City can make data-driven decisions to achieve its long-term goal of zero bicycle related fatalities. The City should improve its crash data to be geocoded, easily accessible, and regularly reviewed and/or analyzed. The City should also work to integrate near-miss crash reporting (e.g., via an online platform) into its safety analyses.
Lead: Public Works, CSPD, El Paso County Public Health | Time: Near-term
2.16 Establish a Bike Count Program
Bicycle count data provides crucial information related to bicyclist use patterns and trends that help planners, engineers, and decision makers evaluate the performance of existing and potential new bicycle facilities. The City and CDOT have begun to conduct limited bicycle counts in Colorado Springs. This is an important first step in tracking bicycle ridership, but a more comprehensive count program would be beneficial. Building upon CDOT’s program, the City should establish a bike count program to strategically implement continuous and short-duration counters and use ‘big data’ sources such as CDOT’s statewide Strava data. Count data collected through the program would inform infrastructure, program, and policy choices.
Moving forward, the City should continue to monitor counting innovations and develop partnerships with technology companies to augment city-collected count data.
Lead: Public Works, Parks & Recreation | Time: Long-term