Committee discusses proposed street safety proposals

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On Feb. 26, CC’s Transportation Master Plan Working Group met for a review of the comprehensive plan’s goals. The most favored solution for student safety: reducing the number of lanes on Cascade and Nevada Avenue.

 

The Transportation Master Plan is a seven-month collaborative endeavor spearheaded by a Working Group made up of CC students, faculty, and administrators, as well as residents and public officials of Colorado Springs.

 

Junior Garrett Benisch is a student member of the Working Group and has a unique understanding of the factors at play.

 

“I would say that the Working Group is looking towards trying to bind all the areas of the town,” Benisch said. “They’re looking to create a community. Whether that means bike lanes, trolleys, things like that, they’re looking to create more of a neighborhood in the North End and less of a thoroughfare.”

 

Discussion at previous meetings has largely centered on the Cascade and Nevada Avenue areas and how to make them both safer for pedestrians and more convenient for drivers.

 

The most recent meeting intended to narrow down the plans that have been suggested so far.

 

It involved a series of three workshops: traffic calming through parking and lane reduction, different options for the pedestrian crossings, and overpass solutions. Group members were divided into sets that participated in the workshops together.

 

According to CC’s news release on the meeting, President Jill Tiefenthaler described the meeting’s purpose as a community-oriented one. “During this

 

 

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next meeting they will cull the best suggestions by determining potential implications and weighing how well each alternative meets community values,” Tiefenthaler said.

 

The overall consensus on overpass and underpass remedies was negative. Lane reduction seems to be a popular and potentially effective method of improving safety in the Cascade and Nevada areas.

 

The city has refused to install pedestrian flashing lights at the Nevada Avenue crosswalks.

 

“We are undoubtedly going to look at lighting on the Cascade crosswalks,” Benisch said.  “The flashing lights do their job, but are more of a Band-Aid fix than a permanent fix.”

 

Benisch also highlighted the exceptional nature of the Cascade and Nevada areas. “It’s interesting because we have more accidents on Cascade than we do on Nevada. And that is because Nevada is dangerous enough to make pedestrians pay attention.”

 

“And there’s no confusion,” Benisch said. “Because those blinking lights (on Cascade) are so obscure. That signal is not used anywhere else in the world, as far as we are concerned. So who needs to stop there, you know?”

 

Some dismissed propositions include rumble strips, speed bumps, the closure of Cascade, and pedestrian tables.

 

The overarching purpose of the Working Group is to ensure that all parties with a vested interest in the safety and mobility of the area are represented in any long-term plans that are produced.

 

“It’s become a system-wide proposal,” Benisch said. “We’re talking about all the way into downtown and all the way up into the North End and combining all those master plans.”

 

Those master plans include the interests of the Downtown Partnership, the Old North End Neighborhood, as well as CC’s Long Range Development Plan. Links to detailed information on all of these plans are available on the transportation master plan’s web page on the CC website.

 

Thus far, the Working Group has met four times over the course of the year. It meets on the final Tuesday of each month.

 

Discussion has also included talk about orienting cities to make them primarily friendly to pedestrians, rather than designing the city around the automobile. This perspective most often cites a study by Geoffrey Stack, who conducted a study on the topic several years ago.

 

Unfortunately, this has proved an elusive goal. “It’s hard because of the way the city’s built. It comes from a visionary mentality, but that’s just not the reality of what we want anymore,” Benisch said.

 

The Master Plan has seen a limited amount of student presence at meetings, which is due in part to a lack of advertising. “It has not been advertised very well,” Benisch said. “But we do really need students there.”

Eliza Carter

Guest Writer

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