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Shuttle experiment at Garden this summer

       It will only go a short way into the park and using it is optional, but a free shuttle service is being tested for the first time this summer in the Garden of the Gods.

During the city's five-hour "Motorless Morning" April 22 for the Garden of the Gods, vehicles from 30th Street (seen in foreground) were allowed to turn onto Gateway Road and park in the city-owned Rock Ledge Ranch property. Where the cars were parked that morning (as shown in this photo, with the main Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site area hidden among the trees beyond the hikers in the mid-background) is the basic location where the city plans to develop a 400-vehicle parking lot for this summer's optional Garden shuttle service.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Planned by the Colorado Springs Parks Department and the Garden of the Gods Foundation, the service is scheduled daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from the end of May to the beginning of September. That's when the city park “experiences the greatest number of visitors,” a press release states.
       The release explains that the shuttle fleet will consist of two 14-passenger vans, running in a concurrent loop to allow stops every 15 minutes at three locations: Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center and the intersection of Gateway Road and Juniper Way Loop.

A westerly view along Gateway Road during the "Motorless Morning" April 22 shows bicyclists and hikers proceeding along Gateway into the Garden of the Gods. In the foreground is Gateway's closure point beside the driveway into the Rock Ledge Ranch parking lot.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The latter intersection connects to a short trail leading into the popular Central Garden zone.
       A 400-space shuttle-user parking lot - described by the press release as “temporary” - is to be created in May, with timbers to delineate parking spaces and either gravel or mulch as surface material. The location is the southwest corner of 30th Street and Gateway Road, on the city-owned Rock Ledge property, in a dirt area that's been used in the past for overflow event parking.
       “Launching the shuttle system this summer is part of our incremental approach to apply small-scale pilot programs to gauge impact and measure feedback on utilization patterns,” said Kim King, administration manager for City Parks. “We know we won't have all the answers right away, but because we want to increase alternative ways to experience the Garden, it's critically important to test programs like this shuttle.”
       The shuttle operation is being managed by Adventures Out West, a private company that already offers jeep, Segway and trolley tours through the Garden.
       A summertime-shuttle concept had been outlined at a city-hosted public meeting in the Westside Community Center in March. Proposed by a hired transportation consultant (Volpe National Transportation Systems Center), the idea was prioritized by city staff based on findings that the Garden is, on average, 450 parking spaces short during the summer and up to 600 during peak times.
       In addition, using information from roadway vehicle counters installed by the city in 2017, Volpe gauges that 5.8 million people visit the Garden of the Gods annually - more than double what the city had estimated before.
       The city intent with the shuttle, as stated at the March meeting, is to implement the service a little at a time. Eventually, Volpe suggests a system that would bus people all over the Garden.
       The city recently tried a different sort of nonmotorized experiment, “Motorless Morning,” which shut off the Garden to cars Sunday, April 22 between 5 and 10 a.m. Estimating that “hundreds” of hikers and cyclists took advantage of the opportunity that day, King described the response as “overwhelmingly very positive from the folks who came.”
       A Volpe/city proposal for car-free days on a monthly basis had been presented at the March meeting, receiving strong support from attendees.

Westside Pioneer article