City primed for Old Colorado City with 2-lane avenue, bike lanes, reverse diagonal parkingBarring strong public opposition, the city plans to neck Colorado Avenue down to two lanes of traffic (one each way) through Old Colorado City. The change could come as early as next year, according to City Transportation Manager Kathleen Krager.
The concept has been in discussion for about eight years - supported by representatives of the area's property owners and business people.
The two-lane layout would be created by restriping the pavement between 24th and 27th streets. Supporters believe
Krager had previously told Old Colorado City she liked the idea. But now she has technical support from a $12,000 traffic study, recently done for the city by the Kimley Horn company. In comments at the September meeting of the Old Colorado City Special Improvement Maintenance District (SIMD) advisory committee, Krager said the study revealed that the change could be made “with very little impact to traffic.”
In addition, there would be added parking spaces, resulting from changing the current parallel parking layout to diagonal, according to preliminary plans drawn up for the SIMD last year by design consultant John Olson.
After the meeting, Krager elaborated that public outreach would “absolutely” be part of the changeover process. “Nothing is ever final until we do public involvement,” she said. “Right now it is just a concept.”
A long-time advocate for the two-lane strategy is Jim Heikes, a property owner and avenue merchant who is a past chair of the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group and currently chairs the SIMD committee. He has commented at various times that the change would help set apart the three-block area as more of a tourist area and historic attraction.
A prominent element of the realignment is reverse diagonal parking, in which a car pulls past the space, then backs into it (see graphic and photo on this page). The driver can then pull into traffic by going forward.
The thinking is that while reverse-diagonal may take some getting used to, it is ultimately simpler and safer
In contrast, she noted that the downtown has forward-diagonal parking, which is easy to get into, but “when you back out, you're crossing your fingers that the car behind you wants your spot.”
Other cities that use reverse-diagonal include Fort Collins, Boulder, Wheat Ridge and Austin, Texas, Krager said.
The arrangement is being tried in Colorado Springs on a one-way block of Navajo Street in front of the Ivywild School, between Cascade Avenue and Tejon Street. "Ivywild was the pre-test,” Krager said, half-jokingly to the SIMD committee. “You're the SAT.”
If the Old Colorado City plan goes through as envisioned, another change would be the clear marking of bike lanes, as well as “bike boxes” at stoplights, where bikes would be allowed to wait in front of cars for lights to change.
Krager told the SIMD committee that for Old Colorado City she was OK with straight-in or back-in diagonal parking, but “my one demand is that bike lanes be there as well.” While many Westside cyclists prefer less busy east-west thoroughfares such as Cucharras - in fact, the city plans to use street markings to designate it as a “bike boulevard” - she said that a sizeable number of “commuter cyclists” like to ride fast and and need to be accommodated on West Colorado Avenue.
In general, she sees cycling as a “big boon for the community” and believes bike lanes would encourage more of that.
An earlier Olson drawing for Old Colorado City's two-laning had shown a center lane as well. But with bike lanes taking up some of the road width, the center lane has been eliminated. Instead, left-turn lanes would be striped in near each intersection, the new plan shows.
For a time, OCC's two-lane advocacy had been stalled because the SIMD lacked funding for a traffic study. But several months ago, Krager said she could free up money in her budget to take on that expense.
The change, if it happens, would continue a trend on Colorado/Manitou Avenue A two-lane scenario with bike lanes is also planned for the No Man's Land upgrade project (from 31st Street west to Manitou's Highway 24 interchange), which is due to start construction next year. And, downtown Manitou Springs has been two-laned for about 10 years.
Westside Pioneer article