COBWEB CORNERS: The first traffic light

By Mel McFarland

       Along Colorado Avenue, it was big news when the first traffic light went in. Part of the problems along the avenue have not changed in 50, or even 80 years! The main traffic problem was speeding. The speed limit back then was just under what it is today between 24th and 26th (25 mph), but even then there were those who disregarded it.
       Before the traffic light, there were regular crashes at 25th Street and Colorado Avenue - the busiest corner in Colorado City. Through the summer, seeing cars on their side along the avenue was fairly common. Back then when two cars came together, or a car and a wagon, usually one of them wound up on its side. Cars were a lot higher off the ground than today. For the first few weeks, many drivers merely drove through the intersection, not looking for a traffic light. Many of the business owners had begged for some kind of traffic control along the avenue. Once the light was put in, they demanded better enforcement.
       The policemen in Colorado City were new to traffic enforcement. The patrols in the problem areas were normally a nightly problem. A couple of men walked a beat up and down Pikes Peak and Colorado avenues during the day. Law enforcement might turn up people who were not taking care of their sidewalk or their ash pits. Yes, everyone had an ash pit and a trash burner in their back yard. With most of the heat coming from coal furnaces, many had a nice supply of ashes. The ashes were used in the winter for grit on icy sidewalks, among other things.
       Anyone who rode a bicycle recognized that there were some specific rules for them. Wheels, as they were commonly called, were to be ridden in the street, not on sidewalks. Woe be it for anyone who rode his wheel through Bancroft or Thorndale parks. That could get you a $5 fine. Not only that, but wheels even had speed limits! I remember my grandfather got a speeding ticket while riding his bicycle to Colorado Springs. He was rounding the corner at Seventh Street down the hill to Spruce. It is a nice, gentle hill going east, but he got up to more than 30 mph. At least that is what the policeman said he was doing. No, they did not have radar back then, but I guess they did not argue the points that much.