Thursday, June 22, 2017

Trail construction underway to connect Loveland and Fort Collins

Image credit: Larimer County Natural Resources

Construction crews broke ground this week on a 2-mile section of Colorado’s Front Range Trail connecting Loveland and Fort Collins. The trail will connect Loveland’s Recreation Trail at Boyd Lake State Park with Fossil Creek Trail at Carpenter Road. Two-thirds of the $1.2 million trail was funded through Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) grant funds and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife State Trails Program. The City of Fort Collins, City of Loveland, and Larimer County are splitting the remaining cost and will partner to maintain the trail into the future. The non-motorized trail will be part of the larger Front Range Trail System that will eventually connect New Mexico to Wyoming. The Front Range Trail was designated as one of twelve Regional Bicycle Corridors in the NFRMPO's 2013 Regional Bicycle Plan.

A second non-motorized trail connecting the western portions of Loveland and Fort Collins is scheduled to break ground in Fall 2017. The trail will follow North Taft Avenue in Loveland and South Shields Street in Fort Collins, and is also part of a Regional Bicycle Corridor.

Read more in the News Release from the City of Loveland. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Solving Infrastructure Problems from the Bottom Up

Source: Flickr; Photo Credit: IMB

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimate that it would take $4.6 trillion to fix all of our nation’s infrastructure problems. Unable to rely on federal funding streams, cities and states are looking for local solutions to issues ranging from under-performing roads to buildings with high-energy profiles. Innovations like Smart Lights, which contain sensors cable of collecting air quality data, electricity usage data, and more, are at the center of the technological revolution happening locally in cities like San Diego. Smart sensors like these could also improve traffic flow, ease the search for parking, and provide important information to first responders. In other cities, local innovators are thinking regionally about interconnected energy and electricity networks. Still other municipalities are exploring alternative funding mechanisms, leveraging private and public funds, to kick start energy efficient programs and retrofits. For more information on this topic, check out Kish Rajan’s article in Governing

The Transportation Side Effects of 'The Great Inversion'

Image Credit: Flickr
As urban centers become more in-demand, low-wage workers are being displaced while the number of low-wage jobs are increasingly concentrated in city centers. As a result, low-wage workers are facing longer commutes. The effects can be seen in revitalized downtowns as well as "edge cities" that developed as office centers in close-in suburbs. In many downtowns and edge cities, housing is becoming more expensive and urban amenities that rely on low-wage workers, such as restaurants and entertainment venues, are flourishing. For more on this topic, read William Fulton's column in Governing.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Progress Towards Vision Zero - Using Data to Decrease Traffic Deaths

Image Credit:

Across the United States, cities are joining the Vision Zero movement to help eliminate pedestrian and cyclist deaths and serious injuries. Vision Zero asserts that no traffic deaths are acceptable and participating cities are using data to help identify collision hot spots throughout the transportation network to inform where improvements are best implemented. Improvements to the pedestrian and bicycle network include wider sidewalks, shorter crosswalks, and clearer road markings.

Some cities, including New York and San Francisco, have experienced preliminary progress toward the goals of Vision Zero; however, there is still a long way to go. In some cases, improvements are not made in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods for pedestrians and cyclists. In New York, pedestrians in the ten poorest neighborhoods are nine percent more likely to be injured or killed in traffic accidents compared to all residential neighborhoods as a whole. 

Historically, pertinent data has proven difficult to collect and often requires an injury or death to identify areas in need of improvement. However, new data sources, including mobile phone apps, may provide useful data without the need for a collision. For instance, the mobile app Zendrive is able to sense risky driving behaviors such as excessive speed, aggressive acceleration, hard braking, and risky phone use. A decrease in these risky driving behaviors may indicate a safer road network for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists.

Learn more about the vision zero movement or learn about Colorado's plan for achieving zero traffic deaths

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Fort Collins in Top 10 for Job Growth

Image Credit: Joe Wolf/Flickr
Across the nation, local economies are growing. Some economies have attracted major employers, some have attracted fast growing industries, and others are simply recovering from severe economic setbacks. An analysis of federal jobs data shows that most metro areas with workforces of at least 100,000 have experienced economic growth when comparing the first four months of 2017 to the same time period in 2016. Twenty of the 223 metro areas identified had growth rates exceeding three percent. Fort Collins ranked 10th on this list, with a year-to-year increase of 3.1 percent. The January-April 2016 average of 159,475 jobs increased to an average of 164,475 jobs during the same time period in 2017. For more information visit Governing the States and Localities

Fort Collins City Council approves 365-day Transfort service

Image credit: Nick Armstrong/Flickr

At their meeting on Tuesday night, Fort Collins City Council approved addition funding for Transfort to provide service on Sundays and holidays. Other funding comes from the Associated Students of CSU (ASCSU) and CSU. ASCSU provided funding for Routes 2 and 3, with the expectation MAX will run. Additional routes which will be funded include Route 14 (Mulberry/SH14), Route 16 (Harmony Rd), and Route 8 (North College). Sunday and holiday service is not considered a pilot project. The service is seen as a benefit to transit-dependent populations, including those with disabilities, older adults, and college students. Additional information about schedules should be released soon.

Additional information is available at the Transfort website. Information in this post is from the Coloradoan.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

In Most States, a Spike in 'Super Commutes' Over 90 Minutes Long

Image Credit: Flickr
Long commutes are on the rise. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of commuters traveling 90 minutes or more increased by 23 percent nationwide, compared with an increase of 8 percent for commuters traveling less than 90 minutes. Census data indicates the increase in so-called "super commuters" occurred in 40 states. Hawaii experienced the largest increase, with a 63 percent increase in super commuters. In Colorado, the number of commuters traveling 90 minutes or more to work increased by 22.7 percent, increasing from 43,000 to 53,000. The increase is attributed to competitive housing markets and a reluctance to relocate for work due to fears of another economic recession.

Average commute time varies by job type and income. Workers in the oil and gas industry were the most likely to travel 90 minutes or more.

For more information, read the article in Governing.

Seat belts required for new school buses in Nevada

Image credit: Flickr
Last month in Las Vegas, more than a dozen students were injured in a school bus crash. In the last seven months, children in Massachusetts and Tennessee have been killed or injured in school bus accidents. In response, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has signed legislation requiring all new school buses in the State be equipped with seat belts. The law applies to bus purchases made on or after July 1, 2019. This puts Nevada in line with six other states – California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas – who have enacted similar laws. Although the new regulation addresses safety in crashes, some worry it inhibits a rider's ability to quickly escape in emergency situations. The cost of adding seat belts to a new bus is estimated between $7,000 and $10,000.

Read more from Governing.

Monday, June 5, 2017

New Colorado Trail Explorer map shows 39,000 miles of trails

Image credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW)
One day ahead of National Trails Day, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) launched and interactive map of trails in Colorado. ColoradoTrail Explorer went live last Friday (June 2nd) showing 17,000 trails and 1,400 trailheads across the state. Users can interactively explore trails and attributes such as pavement type, class, primary use, and total length. The idea was born out of Governor John Hickenlooper’s Colorado the Beautiful Initiative in Summer of 2015. Currently the website is best used on desktop, although a mobile app is on the way. Users can search the map using keywords or toggle between non-mechanized, multi-use, motorized, and bike route layers. Developers are working to add more data, especially for federal lands. If you see missing trails or incomplete information in your area, contact your local trail manager.

Read more in the Coloradoan.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The future of public transit in Greeley, Evans and northern Colorado

New GET bus. Image credit: City of Greeley Flickr

Transit could help shape the future of Greeley as multiple projects are underway. Ridership continues to grow, requiring Greeley-Evans Transit (GET) to buy new, larger buses - many buses have run at capacity over the past year. A new bus transfer center should open in September, creating a transit facility with bathrooms, waiting area, and customer service area. Additionally, GET staff continues to work on on the Regional Route Study to analyze the need for a regional route connecting the communities of Northern Colorado.  More than 1,800 people filled out a survey regarding their willingness to ride such a route.

For a more in-depth discussion, read the article from the Greeley Tribune.