Exaggerated Problems

The ONEN Board is resurrecting the road dieting plan after a CC student was seriously injured crossing Cascade in January (2016). But the reality is the risks to CC students are minimal and vehicle-pedestrian accidents are rare.  There are well over 150,000 pedestrian crossings per school year[1] at CC, which means more than 1.8 million crossings from 2000 to 2012, yet the proposal only cites 30 pedestrian-vehicle collisions in that period.

And of those 30, only 10 actually involved people walking; the other 20 were skateboarders and, more often, cyclists inappropriately using the crosswalks. Furthermore, the report only lists 5 collisions in which the vehicle in the first lane stopped but the vehicle in the second lane failed to yield. The other collisions happened in the first lane, a problem lane reduction doesn’t even address. That means, out of 1.8 million crossings, the current proposal would address only 5 collisions.

City Senior Planner Ryan Tefertiller has agreed the frequency of accidents at CC is low, yet the ONEN Board has repeatedly acknowledged that the single accident from January is “the driving force” behind the far-reaching changes they propose.  And unlike pedestrian traffic at Colorado College, the road restrictions will remain in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, rain or snow, irrespective of traffic overflow for annual downtown events.[2]

The Festival of Lights draws tens of thousands of attendees, many of whom pass through ONEN.

The Festival of Lights draws tens of thousands of attendees, many of whom pass through ONEN.

If the plan cost nothing and provided a modest improvement in safety it might be worth it.  Unfortunately, a more likely outcome will be traffic congestion, which itself leads to higher accident rates and therefore less safety in ONEN and surrounding areas.

[1] Per the Colorado College Transportation Master Plan (2013), at peak times Cascade Ave sees 900 pedestrian crossings and Nevada sees 200.  These numbers don’t include the crossings during the rest of the day or at other locations.  1100 crosssings per day x 150 days per school year = 165,000 crossings, making 150,000 an extremely conservative estimate that doesn’t even include pedestrian crossings when school is out.

[2] Among many other year-round festivities, Downtown hosts the St. Patrick’s Day parade (draws thousands of people), the Summer Rodeo (draws about 7,500 people per event), and the Festival of Lights (draws tens of thousands of people).