The city of Colorado Springs shared results from a recent community-wide transportation survey that asked about strengths and weaknesses of the city’s current transportation system, citizen’s habits and community needs during an interactive virtual public meeting Feb. 18.
The survey and meeting are part of ConnectCOS, a citywide visionary transportation study that began in 2020 and will wrap up at the end of 2021. It will create a 20-year transportation plan that reflects the evolving needs of the community, including transportation planning, infrastructure, and improvements in Colorado Springs.
ConnectCOS will bring to life the goals, ideas and community values established in PlanCOS, the City’s comprehensive plan adopted by the City Council in 2019.
“Now is the time to review our current transportation system and develop a plan to ensure an efficient, accessible, safe and well-connected network for people who drive, walk, bike and take public transit,” states the city’s website.
Approximately 1,700 Colorado Springs residents responded to the ConnectCOS survey, which was open from Aug. 19 to Sept. 21, 2020. Survey respondents also shared 825 unique comments about community transportation strengths and weaknesses on an interactive map.
Based on the survey results, Colorado Springs is a car-centric community: 98% of survey respondents have at least one vehicle, and 70% drive their personal vehicle daily. Yet 65% of respondents feel it is extremely important to have transportation choices such as walking, biking, and taking the bus.
The two most important factors that determine the mode of transportation respondents choose are how quickly they could get to their destination and the impact of traffic congestion on travel times.
The city’s many trails were considered a top strength of the city’s transportation network while congested corridors and intersections were considered the top challenge facing the transportation system, according to the survey results.
Secondary challenges from the survey varied across different parts of the city. The most common secondary challenges were East-West driving connections, maintenance of existing roads, managing growth and development, and missing bike-pedestrian connections.
Over 50% of respondents feel that it is easy to walk or use a wheelchair to get to places they need to go within the city. However, respondents also said they would be more likely to use sidewalks and trails to reach their destination if the City had better sidewalk connectivity, better sidewalk condition, more crossings at major intersections, better lighting, shorter walking distance, landscaping including trees, wider sidewalks, and more way-finding signs.
Almost 40% of respondents identify as a casual bicyclist who ride for recreation and 12% commute by bicycle at least occasionally. More than half of respondents feel it is easy to get to places by bicycle.
Sixty-six percent of respondents feel safe driving in Colorado Springs and slightly more than half of respondents feel they spend too much time in traffic. Only eight percent of respondents use the bus at least monthly. When asked why they don’t take the bus, the top three responses were: it takes too long, it does not go where I need it to go, and I do not want to use public transit.
In addition to the survey, in 2020 the ConnectCOS project team collected a variety of data and analyzed the city’s existing transportation system.
The team mapped a variety of data, including areas of congestion, crash data and where people live versus where they work. They also compared the amount of time it takes to access essential services like hospitals while driving versus taking public transportation. It takes up to 90 minutes to access a major hospital by bus and an average of 20 minutes driving.
Using aggregate cell phone data, they looked at overall transportation patterns and access to 37 key destinations defined by PlanCOS. Some of the results weren’t what he expected said ConnectCOS Project Manager Ted Ritschard during the virtual public meeting.
“That’s why [mobile device data] helps us. We understand that not all parts of the City of Colorado Springs are the same, and people are exposed to different levels of traffic congestion,” Ritschard said.
Currently, the ConnectCOS team is using the data they’ve collected and community input to identify areas of need and potential strategies to address them. As they begin to develop and prioritize recommendations, they will take into account the effectiveness of solutions, PlanCOS goals, and input from the community. In late 2021, a draft transportation plan will be vetted with the broader public before going to City Council for final review.
Survey results and additional information about ConnectCOS are available on the ConnectCOS website, ColoradoSprings.gov/ConnectCOS.