Pros and Cons of the ONEN Safety Plan. You Decide!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

In early 2016, the ONEN board formulated a Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Plan to improve the safety of our neighborhood streets. This plan has been presented to the city and is currently working through the approval process. We have developed this list to address some concerns that have been raised about the plan that ONEN developed.

Cons (from Pros
Narrowing lanes will make it more difficult for emergency vehicles to reach Penrose Hospital when time is of the essence. It could potentially cost lives. By reducing the travel lanes from 2 to 1, and turning one of the existing lanes into a bike lane, it will be easier for cars to move over into the bike lanes to allow emergency vehicles to pass.
Carbon emissions increase when traffic has to spend more time idling rather than moving towards their destination. City Engineering has evaluated current traffic counts and determined a single lane in each direction can adequately handle it without backups. If this plan does cause unexpected backups, the plan will be reverted after the trial period. Also, it is quite possible that by giving more people a safe way to ride bikes to downtown, there will be more zero-emission bicycles and fewer gas-guzzling cars on the road.
Side streets will become more dangerous as traffic seeks to avoid bottlenecks. City Engineering does not expect bottlenecks or cut-through traffic based on the current traffic counts. However, they plan to monitor the adjacent streets closely. If it becomes a problem they have other ways to discourage cut-through traffic. If this does not work, the plan will be reverted after the trial period.
The CC students have been lulled into a false sense of security. There are more pedestrian/vehicle accidents on Cascade than on Nevada because the students are more careful when they cross Nevada. The ONEN safety plan was developed to improve the safety on the major north-south streets through ONEN as well as E Fontanero St. The reduction of traffic lanes on these streets will improve pedestrian safety through Colorado College, ONEN, North Downtown and Patty Jewett (Fontanero St). Students heading to Steele Elementary, Corpus Christi, North Middle and Palmer High Schools will all enjoy safer walks and bike rides.
If the CC students took responsibility for their own safety, there would be no need for any additional safety enhancements to help them cross the street without getting run over. The latest CC pedestrian accident in January 2016 happened in the customary manner on a two-lanes-in-each-direction street. One automobile in the first lane stopped for the young woman as she entered the well-marked crosswalk. A second automobile in the second lane did not stop and hit the young woman as she came past the first automobile. The driver of the second vehicle could not see the young woman in the crosswalk because the student was hidden behind the stopped vehicle. Removing a traffic lane in each direction will improve safety for all pedestrians at CC including students, faculty, staff and visitors.
Constricting traffic is only a temporary fix. It will be necessary to continue to have this same dialogue again in 5 or 10 more years as CC wants to make further traffic modifications. CC’s long term plan states that they want to narrow Nevada to one lane through the campus area. City Engineering has stated that they will not reduce lanes if the reduced lanes cannot carry the traffic without congestion. They stated that the traffic counts on Nevada south of Uintah through the CC campus do not support safety sizing at this time. They will continue to evaluate streets in and around downtown for further safety-sizing opportunities.
The majority of people that do not live on the streets which would be narrowed are displeased their streets would get more traffic City Engineering does not expect cut-through traffic based on the current traffic counts. However if this plan is a success in the Old North End, other neighborhoods could expect to benefit from similar traffic calming efforts in the future. ONEN wants all of our downtown neighborhoods to be safe, calm, walk-able and bike-able. Complete streets that are not solely focused on the automobile will improve the vitality of our city.
CC is more concerned about shuttling traffic around their campus than they are about their student’s safety. City Engineering does not expect cut-through traffic based on the current traffic counts. CC is most certainly concerned about pedestrian safety through their campus. CC is working with traffic engineering to improve the Cascade Ave corridor through campus by cutting the number of crosswalks in half and adding landscaping to direct pedestrians to those remaining crosswalks.
Constricting traffic will negatively impact downtown merchants as it will be less likely that people in between downtown and Chapel Hills will head south rather than north. City Engineering does not expect backups based on the current traffic counts. The Downtown Master Plan includes the following action item: “Design and implement the Urban and Neighborhood Greenways with protected bike facilities and narrower and/or fewer travel lanes to prioritize their function as primary routes for bicycle movement through the core and to and from the Legacy Loop. Immediate priority streets are Weber and Cascade to improve connectivity to Colorado College and neighborhoods to the North.”
It is very difficult to get on the interstate at Fillmore. It’s unlikely that the affected traffic will just move to I-25 as the somewhat optimistic traffic estimates project. City Engineering does not expect backups based on the current traffic counts. The redesigned Fillmore interchange is nearly complete and should incentivize using I-25 over cutting through ONEN. The Cimarron Interchange will also significantly improve access to downtown from I-25.
If the interstate is shut down (i.e., a tanker tips over) the traffic jams on Nevada and the rest will be of apocalyptic proportions. This is no different than it is today. We do not want Nevada or any roads in the Old North End to act as a highway bypass. A better solution would be to use the numerous eastern arterials such as Union, Circle, Academy, or Powers. In October 1, 2007, CDOT relinquished Nevada as a business route and converted it to a city street. It is also no longer a truck route thanks to many years of effort by the ONEN Board.
Traffic calming will affect businesses productivity. The more time spent either driving out of the way or else idling behind someone looking for an address, the less effective we are. City Engineering does not expect backups based on the current traffic counts. City Engineering does not expect cut-through traffic based on the current traffic counts. Added pedestrian and bicycle access will increase access to downtown for business and pleasure.
No study has been done to estimate the extra resources Colorado Springs will have to spend needlessly in extra gas and time wasted navigating the traffic constrictions. City Engineering does not expect backups based on the current traffic counts. By enhancing our neighborhoods, decreasing accidents in excess of 30%, improving the health of our residents through exercise, we cannot afford NOT to do this plan.
The more traffic is clogged, the less pleasurable the experience for tourists, the less likely that tourists will return. City Engineering does not expect backups based on the current traffic counts. By transforming our city into a walk-able, bike-able city, Colorado Springs will become an even more desirable place to visit.


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