Courtesy of Pedestrian and Cycle Manitou

PaC-Man is the volunteer pedestrian and cycle citizens’ task force of Manitou Springs. We advocate for and encourage use of safe, connected, accessible bike and pedestrian infrastructure for Manitou Springs residents and visitors.

We envision a Manitou Springs that is environmentally friendly, safe, convenient and enjoyable to walk, bike and roll.

The Pikes Peak Bulletin recently featured an opinion piece that suggested that the forthcoming Creek Walk Trail should not be paved with concrete or asphalt, which is a requirement to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards if the city receives federal grant money to complete the project.

Several justifications are provided for the opinion, including the observation that these surfaces cause damage to the environment (pollution to the air, soil and water). These concerns about our planet, global warming and water quality are valid and we agree with their importance.

We, your neighbors, stand with you in defense of a healthier planet. We also feel compelled to do our part.

On this issue, we suggest balance in evaluating solutions. There’s no question that concrete and asphalt surfaces have drawbacks.

In this case, we suggest that the relatively small addition of hard surfaces is well worth the environmental cost because of the significant improvements it will add in making our city more accessible to those who choose to travel by foot, bicycle, wheelchair or other non-motorized means.

Imagine what it could mean for residents and tourists to have a continuous Creek Walk Trail that connects the east end at Fields Park all the way to Rainbow Falls! By providing this infrastructure, alternative modes of transportation including walking and cycling are promoted.

Fewer vehicles on our roads equals less pollution and congestion, less global warming and diminished need for pavement in the form of parking lots and roads.

Not only will creating a multimodal trail make Manitou Springs a more environmentally sustainable community, but also more equitable, diverse and inclusive. By creating infrastructure that serves all residents and visitors, including those who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices, we are creating spaces that are accessible to a much wider segment of our community. This is the reason that federal grants place such stipulations on projects.

Utilizing federal funds to fund this project wherever possible is an economically prudent and sustainable move for Manitou. This is especially true now as higher construction costs add to an uncertain financial future.

Improving sustainability is a major goal for our community. In 2021, the city of Manitou Springs hired a sustainability consultant. Konrad Schlarbaum provided guidance and training to the city on how to create a community that is more financially, socially and environmentally sustainable.

When focused on the core principles of sustainability and resilience, it is clear that investing in a paved, multi-use, accessible trail that promotes non-vehicular transportation is the right choice for Manitou. We commend the city for taking important steps toward making Manitou Springs a more sustainable community.

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