Motorless Morning—A Spark To Change The City's Cycling Culture?

Oct 3, 2018

This Sunday morning, Garden of the Gods will once again be closed to vehicles. Motorless Morning is an opportunity for cyclists and pedestrians to take in the park without the sounds, commotion and worry of traffic. 

91.5 KRCC’s Abigail Beckman spoke with Allen Beauchamp and Susan Davies with the Colorado Springs Trails and Open Space Coalition about how Motorless Morning changes the experience at Garden of the Gods and how it could help promote a change in the city's cycling culture. 

Vehicles file into Garden of the Gods after the end of the first Motorless Morning in April 2018. File photo.
Credit Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

On the experience at the first Motorless Morning in April 2018

Davies: This is our day. This is our day, when as pedestrians and as bicyclists, we get to go in and experience the quiet...the way the folks that found the park in first place, what it must have been like when it was so quiet and so beautiful and it was just you and the rocks. That’s sort of what this day is like.

Beauchamp: [In April] we were out there at the crack of dawn and it was quite cold. As the sun was coming up over balanced rock, when we stopped, it was super quiet. All you could hear were the birds. And I can’t say that I’ve ever been in Garden of the Gods, when I’ve been able to just literally hear the wildlife and the natural sounds of the Garden. It’s such a protected area. It was quite beautiful.

On Colorado Springs as a biker-friendly city

Beauchamp: Depending on where you live in town, your version of what bike friendly looks and feels like can be radically different. We are almost 200 square miles and that lends itself to connecting some great trails, but it also lends itself to having to retrofit some of the new developments—20 years is what I’m considering new. Trying to connect those up and trying to put bike lanes in or trying to do trail connections can be slow work. But as we move forward, we are becoming more bike friendly as a city.

Davies: The good news is, we have excellent examples nearby. Fort Collins—spend some time in Fort Collins, take your bike up to Fort Collins and see how seamlessly you can ride between the trail and road system and you will realize why that is know a platinum bike-friendly city, whereas we’re silver. We’re Olympic City USA and we’re settling for silver. Excuse me?

There are certainly cities that are embracing bicycling and making it more bike friendly because they know it draws tourists. Now, we have a slice of the population that probably would be happy if tourism went down. And I understand that. At the same time, it is what it is. We have an amazing park and trail system that is minutes away from our downtown. That’s pretty unique. We’re going to draw the tourists. The best we can do is try to teach them how to responsibly use our trails, use good trail etiquette and wherever possible expand those trails and expand those areas of open space so that people don’t feel too crowded.

On becoming a more bike-friendly city

Davies: We have to change our culture. It’s not just just changing the roads. It’s not just finding more money. We’ve got to convince people that if you make room for bicycles, we’re not taking something from you. If anything, we’re taking a car off the road and making your commute in the car easier. I think it’s years away.

Beauchamp: We talk to people who have been here since the 70’s when Academy was a dirt road and there’s been so much change that’s happened so quickly, and so now we’re trying to, in a sense, force even more change. But, it’s really about choices and allowing our residents to have choices in the way they move through their community and not always have to be in a car. It’s creating that environment to where people can ride from their house to a park with their kids on the weekend, to be able to ride to the library, to be able to have kids ride to school again…

Pedestrians and bikers took full advantage of the roads through Garden of the Gods during the first Motorless Morning in April 2018. File photo.
Credit Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

On the impact of Motorless Morning

Beauchamp: It’s a nice thing to do, but that’s not going to create that culture on the east side of our town or in the far flung reaches of Colorado Springs. Us promoting how you can get to Motorless Morning easily, by bicycle, from your neighborhood to where you’re not having to drive to Garden of the Gods and helping to inspire and educate people...that’s pretty amazing.

Davies: I think Motorless [Morning] can bring a family out there, who have an amazing experience, and the a week later when mom and dad say, 'So, what do you want to do today?' chances are, ‘Hey, let’s go for a bike ride.’ It can be the spark. It can create an experience—create a memory—that will certainly carry with them, but may lead to activity that chips away at that change in culture.

Note: We originally misspelled Allen Beauchamp's name as "Alan." The post has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of his name.