Colorado Springs Sustainability Bike Tour 2011: Recap

Another successful Sustainability Bicycle Tour is now behind us in Colorado Springs.  On Saturday, July 16, 2011, approximately fifty people participated in the three-stage Sustainability Bike Tour.  We were extremely pleased with the turn out for the event and thankful to be joined by two of the newest City Council Members, Lisa Czelatdko and Tim Leigh.

The intentions of the bicycle tour were for the attendees to get a better understanding of the otherwise hidden sustainability features of our great city.  The Bicycle Tour was book-ended at Gold Hill Mesa where we had the opportunity to listen to the on-site developer of the neo-traditional neighborhood, Bob Willard, speak about why Gold Hill Mesa is sustainable.  He referenced what sustainability means to him and how it is being met at Gold Hill Mesa.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Gold Hill Mesa, it is a neo-traditional neighborhood constructed in what was previously the tailing of a historic Gold Mine.  It is located between downtown Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak near Historic Old Colorado City.  Major environmental impacts were mitigated to create a neighborhood that will ultimately be a self-sufficient automobile-independent neighborhood.  Without the major commitment that Mr. Willard and his fellow partners have taken at Gold Hill Mesa, the hill would remain as a blighted eyesore near downtown Colorado Springs.

In his brief statements, Mr. Willard mentioned a key component of sustainability—that is that a place is not sustainable without the right economics.  Sustainability must consider the Triple Bottom Line, or People, Planet, Profit.

If you are a consistent reader of this blog, you probably have a good grasp of the understanding the triple bottom line and that sustainability begins with the bones of the place.  You understand that the transportation networks in and around a place are crucial to the economic vitality.  Too often, the achievement of sustainability does not consider the fossil fuels required in transport or the economics required making sustainability occur.  For example, the most energy-efficient place that requires fifty miles of daily transport is still far from sustainable. The same is true for the highly rated, super-gizmo building that does not see a return on investment for 30-plus years.

In addition to learning about Gold Hill Mesa, other themes of the Sustainability Bike Tour included the importance of adaptive reuse, bicycle infrastructure, community amenities, urban agriculture and local sustainable foods.  (Photos from the bicycle tour will come soon in a separate blog post).

In the next blog post, Infill: A Term with a Variety of Scales, I will write further about the infill sites that were visited throughout the bicycle tour including specific data from the El Paso County Assessor site regarding a few of them.

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