GUEST COLUMN:
Support for PPACG goals
By Ryan Lloyd

       I recently read the article on the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) in the Feb. 3 issue of the Westside Pioneer and was very pleased with the PPACG's direction and goals for regional transportation. In the same issue I found an article by a guest columnist who was unsettled by them. I thought a letter in support of PPACG should be published as well.
       The PPACG would promote urban infill (developing empty lots). This is absolutely vital to the long-term success of our region. Vacant, abandoned and blighted urban lots pose a multitude of problems for our region. Firstly, they are unsafe; providing refuge for illegal behavior. To locals and visitors alike they represent a vision of neglect and failure, saying our region cannot support its own. Infill takes advantage of, and supports, the existing infrastructure of the city; the bus stops, the roads, the services and the utilities already exist. Infill development does not disproportionately burden the population like the current status quo of sprawl that caused the blighted lots in the first place. Finally, the density that infill could provide is essential to support the lifestyle that the rest of the PPACG goals tout.
       The PPACG would like to reduce vehicle miles traveled per capita and increase opportunity for travelers to choose methods of travel other than single-occupant motor vehicles. We need to face the facts in Colorado Springs. Our city cannot sustain itself and its current mode of vehicular-oriented growth. We cannot afford to maintain our streets. We can't afford to light our streets, plow our streets or hire the police to protect our streets. We have TOO MUCH asphalt and it is unsustainable, socially, economically, and environmentally. Our population has become isolated, our communities distended and our children obese. This is urged on by our love of cars. Promoting pedestrian and bike traffic is necessary to reshape our communities, meet our neighbors, and get eyes on the street to keep our neighborhoods safe and get healthy. Global warming can be debated, but the ills of air pollution, noise pollution, dependence on foreign oil and the tens of thousands of vehicle-related deaths per year cannot. It is a simple fact that we can reduce these problems by driving less.
       The cities in our country that provide density, a range of housing stock, choices in transit, fresh local food, and locally made wares, that the PPACG is promoting, exist and are vibrant and exciting. They are also the areas that young, educated, and talented professionals are flocking to, with high paying employers following them. They are successful. Our nation is transgressing out of the age of suburban sprawl and into vibrancy, density, and multiple choices. I am proud that the PPACG has the foresight to try and catch our region up with this national trend.
       I chose to live on the Westside, specifically Pleasant Valley, precisely because it already supports this lifestyle. From my home I can walk to my kids' school, the community pool, Garden of the Gods and Old Colorado City. This has allowed me to meet my neighbors, be involved and engage in my community. There is room for improvement, even on the Westside, and I look forward to seeing it happen as I leisurely stroll through my city.