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During the city's five-hour "Motorless Morning" April 22 for the Garden of the Gods, vehicles coming from 30th Street (seen in foreground) were allowed to turn onto Gateway Road and then enter the city-owned Rock Ledge Ranch property for parking. Where the cars were parked that morning (as shown in this photo, with the main Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site area hidden among the trees beyond the hikers in the mid-background) is the same location that the city plans to develop into a 400-vehicle parking lot for this summer's optional Garden shuttle service.
Westside Pioneer photo

Optional shuttle service to be offered at Garden of the Gods this summer

May 2, 2018
       It will only go a short way into the park and using it is optional, but a free shuttle service will be tested for the first time this summer in the Garden of the Gods.
       Planned by the Colorado Springs Parks Department and the Garden of the Gods Foundation, the service is scheduled daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from the end of May to the
A westerly view along Gateway Road during the "Motorless Morning" April 22 shows bicyclists and hikers proceeding along Gateway into the Garden of the Gods. In the foreground is Gateway's closure point beside the driveway into the Rock Ledge Ranch parking lot. The nonmotorized event was the first time the city has tried closing the popular city park to cars.
Westside Pioneer photo
beginning of September. That's when the city park “experiences the greatest number of visitors,” a press release states.
       The release explains that the shuttle fleet will consist of two 14-passenger vans, running in a concurrent loop to allow stops every 15 minutes at three locations - Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center and the intersection of Gateway Road and Juniper Way Loop.
       The latter intersection connects to a short trail leading into the popular Central Garden zone.
       A 400-space shuttle-user parking lot - described by the press release as “temporary” - is to be created in May. The location is the southwest corner of 30th Street and Gateway Road, on the city-owned Rock Ledge property, in a dirt area that's been used in the past for overflow event parking.
       “Launching the shuttle system this summer is part of our incremental approach to apply small-scale pilot programs to gauge impact and measure feedback on utilization patterns,” said Kim King, administration manager for City Parks. “We know we won't have all the answers right away, but because we want to increase alternative ways to experience the Garden, it's critically important to test programs like this shuttle.”
       The operation will be managed by Adventures Out West, a private company that already offers jeep, Segway and trolley tours through the Garden.
       A summertime-shuttle concept had been outlined at a city-hosted public meeting in the Westside Community Center in March. Proposed by a hired transportation consultant (Volpe National Transportation Systems Center), the idea was prioritized by city staff based on findings that the Garden is, on average, 450 parking spaces short during the summer and up to 600 during peak times.
       In addition, using information from roadway vehicle counters installed by the city in 2017, Volpe gauges that 5.8 million people visit the Garden of the Gods
The planned shuttle route in the Garden of the Gods this summer is shown in dark blue, starting from a to-be-built Rock Ledge Ranch shuttle parking lot southwest of 30th Street and Gateway Road. The second stop will be the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center (outlined in light blue, at right), by way of an existing tunnel under 30th Street. From there, the vehicle will drive to Gateway Road's T-intersection with Juniper Way Loop (far left) and back to the Rock Ledge lot.
Courtesy of Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and Colorado Springs Parks
annually - more than double what the city had estimated before.
       The city intent with the shuttle, as stated at the March meeting, is to implement the service a little at a time. Eventually, Volpe suggests a system that would bus people all over the Garden.
       The Rock Ledge parking lot development is still in the planning stages, with the city “hoping” to have the work completed this month, said King, in response to Westside Pioneer e-mail questions.
       “We are still finalizing if it will be done in-house or by a contractor,” she elaborated, “We will utilize the same type of fencing currently in place for the small overflow lot at the ranch with timbers to delineate parking spaces and either gravel or mulch as surface material.”
       King added that half the project cost - total amount not yet determined - will be paid by Parks. The other half will be covered by the foundation, which owns and operates the Visitor Center at 1805 N. 30th St., adjacent to the park.
       The city recently tried a different sort of nonmotorized experiment, “Motorless Morning,” which shut off the Garden to cars Sunday, April 22 between 5 and 10 a.m. Estimating that “hundreds” of hikers and cyclists took advantage of the opportunity that day, King described the response as “overwhelmingly very positive from the folks who came.”
       A Volpe/city proposal for car-free days on a monthly basis had been presented at the March meeting, receiving strong support from attendees.
       Before that meeting, the city and consultant had met multiple times over several months with various "stakeholders" - entities with interests in the Garden of the Gods - to get their ideas. These included the Garden of the Gods Foundation, several city departments, other area governments, the Friends of the Garden of the Gods, the Trails and Open Space Coalition, the Pleasant Valley Neighborhood Association and several nearby or affected businesses and nonprofits.

Westside Pioneer article
(Outdoors: Garden of the Gods)

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