City Parks to try 'Motorless Morning' April 22 for Garden of the GodsApril 5, 2018
On Earth Day, Sunday, April 22, the Colorado Springs Parks will hold a “pilot event” in which cars will be kept out of the Garden of the Gods from 5 to 10 a.m.
The experiment will follow the annual Earth Day programs the day before (April 21) at the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center and Rock Ledge
Calling April 22 a “Motorless Morning,” Parks had presented the concept to the general public at an open house/meeting March 12, suggesting monthly, all-day car-free days at some point in the future. Based on citizen feedback, in terms of yellow stickies placed on poster boards, the proposal was popular, with the ratio in favor about 4 to 1 over the “never” option.
“During the Motorless Morning, visitors will be encouraged to park their vehicles at the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center or Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site,” a city press release states. “As always, the park will remain free and open to the public, and all park rules and regulations will be in effect. At 10 a.m., the park will reopen to motor vehicles.”
In the past year, City Parks has installed gates for potential use at three of its access roads (Ridge Road, Garden Drive and Beckers Lane) but not the main entrance at Gateway Road off 30th Street. According to Vanessa Zink of City Communications, the gates will be closed during the "motorless" five hours; at Gateway, police officers will direct drivers to the Visitor Center or Rock Ledge lots (both of which are adjacent to Gateway and 30th).
The motorless idea came out of a recent consultant study by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center “designed to enhance the visitor experience and protect the natural elements” in the city-owned park, the press release states.
“After receiving feedback via e-mail and [at the open house], we think the time is right to try an event like this at Garden of the Gods Park,” the release quotes Kim King, the City Parks administration manager. “While we believe Earth Day's Motorless Morning will provide a truly unique and positive experience for visitors, we certainly want to emphasize that this is a pilot program, and we will look closely at survey feedback following the event.”
Other car-control proposals unveiled at the open house included a possible shuttle system for Garden visitors, as well as increased parking outside the Garden, possibly including an expansion/upgrade of the of the current Rock Ledge lot. But final decisions have not been announced.
Based on road-access counters installed in 2017, City Parks estimates that 5.8 million people visit the Garden of the Gods annually.
The press release adds that “all Motorless Morning attendees will be encouraged to participate in a short survey to share their feedback.”
The project website is ColoradoSprings.gov/gogtransportationstudy.
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