(Download a PDF of our full note here: The ONEN Plan: Paved With Good Intentions)
The Old North End Neighborhood (ONEN) Board of Directors, in collaboration with Colorado College (CC) and City Transportation Manager Kathleen Krager, has proposed a major reduction of traffic lanes on streets through ONEN. The proposal, labeled the Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Plan, calls for “safety sizing” (also known as “road dieting”) Nevada, Cascade, Wahsatch, and Weber to one lane in each direction, followed later by Fontanero and Uintah.
This is not the first time the ONEN Board and CC have pushed this plan. There were similar efforts in 2007, 2008, and again in 2013. In 2007 the proposal died after receiving “harsh opposition” from residents of the affected neighborhoods. Similarly, the City Council rejected the 2008 plan. The 2013 proposal was likewise opposed.
At that time the Citizens for Safer Streets advocated for a pedestrian underpass to decouple pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Unfortunately CC was unwilling to pay for an underpass.
Now, three short years later, the ONEN board is resurrecting the road dieting plan in the name of pedestrian safety. Safety is a worthwile goal, but trying to achieve it through road dieting causes more problems than it solves. Lane reduction provides little-to-no improvement in safety but does increase traffic congestion–just ask Boulder. In 2015, Boulder City Council learned the hard when they implemented road dieting only to quickly reverse the changes amid intense public backlash over the worsening traffic conditions.
We fear but expect similar results for Colorado Springs. The ONEN Board and CC are relying on questionable data to push an extreme solution in response to exaggerated problems, all while dismissing better solutions for achieving their goals.