Better Solution: Pedestrian Underpass

Just as there is a history of trying to reduce lanes in ONEN, there is a history of calling for a pedestrian underpass instead.  As far back as 2007, Colorado Springs colleges have advocated for underpasses. Residents have been suggesting it starting as early as 2008 and repeatedly since then.  In fact, when CC started pushing for lane reductions again in 2013, ONEN residents attended a CC working group meeting to give a full presentation on why an underpass would be a preferable solution, citing the design of the underpass already present at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

Underpass Rendering

Rendering of the 2nd pedestrian underpass Colorado State University is adding to their campus.

An underpass ensures pedestrian safety more than lane reduction would.

Proponents of traffic restrictions point out that some of the 30 accidents in the last 12 years at CC involved a vehicle in the first lane yielding to pedestrians but blocking the view of a car in the second lane which didn’t yield.  Reducing roads to one lane would prevent this but would do nothing to stop the rest of the 30 accidents, when vehicles in the first lane failed to yield. Lane reduction also doesn’t prevent collisions like the one in April 2012, in which a skateboarder ran into a vehicle. City Transportation Manager Kathleen Krager has explained that part of the problem is some pedestrians aren’t patient enough to wait until it’s safe to cross the road. Completely decoupling pedestrians and cyclists from traffic would address all of these issues.  Decoupling traffic is the only completely effective and safe solution.

The Gazette points out that the University of Colorado, Boulder is largely unaffected by adjacent traffic, despite a much larger pedestrian population crossing a much busier thoroughfare (a state highway).  Boulder’s success is primarily thanks to their pedestrian underpass.  Likewise, in late 2015 Colorado State University began designing a second underpass after having so much success with its first.

CU Boulder underpass

CU Boulder’s underpass keeps pedestrians safe even though the campus abuts a state highway.

Underpasses are a solution with longevity.

Opponents of underpasses point out how much larger and busier Boulder is than CC, suggesting such a solution wouldn’t be as effective in Colorado Springs.  But the truth is quite the opposite; the fact that a busier, more populous area has had lasting success with pedestrian underpasses suggests our own underpass would continue to be effective as our city keeps growing around CC.  This is in sharp contrast with lane reductions, which become increasingly problematic with population growth.  A pedestrian underpass does not increase traffic congestion in either the near- or long-term.