By Nate SearingAugust 11, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- At least three days a week, weather permitting, Capt. Adam Tumblin, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), leaves the car keys at home and instead straps on a bike helmet for a ride to work.
A 25-mile round trip trek, Tumblin bikes onto post almost entirely on roadways alongside vehicle traffic.
“I wish cars would pay closer attention to us cyclists, but on post the drivers are great and the roads are ideal,” Tumblin says.
He’s not alone cycling to work. More and more frequently, cyclists are discovering the bike-friendly roadways and trails on Fort Carson and making the commute on two wheels instead of four.
“Riding to work, even just a few times a month, is a relaxing, soothing experience,” says Joe Wyka, Directorate of Public Works Engineering Division chief. “The Santa Fe Trail is a great asset and I simply love being able to ride for miles and miles without worrying about traffic.”
Though a recent move to Florissant has made the weekly commute impractical, Wyka is more than just another example of a pedal-powered commuter.
About three years ago, Wyka and Mark Hunsicker, DPW Infrastructure Branch chief, spearheaded the Fort Carson Bikeability Initiative. The ongoing effort has helped increase the number of bike lanes on post, connect trails, open shower facilities in buildings for commuters and improve safety for cyclists around the installation.
Today, cycling to and around post is a safer, faster and more environmentally-friendly way to commute " especially as traffic increases with the return of thousands of deployed Soldiers, Wyka said.
“The gas savings is pretty nice, too,” he said.
According to Directorate of Emergency Services officials, more and more bikes are passing through the gates each day. Part of that popularity comes from the greater availability of bike lanes and trails throughout Colorado Springs that connect to Fort Carson’s network of trails. Cyclists from as far away as Monument can pedal into Fort Carson with only a few yards of road-sharing among conventional vehicle traffic.
Off-post bike trails are also increasing at a rapid rate. According to Jennifer Irvine, El Paso County engineering manager, the county recently secured more than $315,000 for a new bike trail leading directly to Fort Carson, connecting the South Academy Station neighborhood to Pikes Peak Community College and then a separate extension from PPCC to Gate 4.
Similarly, there is a variety of bike lane and trail improvement projects going on this summer, according to Kristin Bennett, senior transportation planner for the city of Colorado Springs. They include:
• New bike lanes added on Motor City Drive and Fillmore, Water, Sierra Madre and Uintah streets.
• New sections of the Sand Creek Trail are under construction (Barnes Road and Stetson Hills Boulevard currently and Las Vegas Street and Hancock Expressway will be soon).
• Improvements along the Midland Trail from 21st Street to 31st Street are under way.
• The Pikes Peak Greenway is being extended from its intersection with Cottonwood Creek Trail south as far as the recently acquired grant funds will stretch.
Today, Fort Carson has more than 10 miles of hard-pack bike trails and bike lanes. Employees
with Department of Defense identification can enter from any gate on foot or by bike, and guests can do so through Gate 1. Recently, Gate 3 was specifically upgraded for foot and bike traffic via the multi-use trail on the west side of the gate approach.
With bike racks included in new construction and many buildings in the cantonment area, the transportation mode is a safe and healthier alternative to driving that can save thousands of dollars annually in avoided gas and vehicle maintenance costs.
The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and many other organizations on post offer a variety of bike rental options for Soldiers, Families and civilians. The DPW plans a bikeshare for employees when it moves into its new building, 1219. The Colorado Inn offers bikes to hotel guests and additional bike-sharing programs through Sustainable Fort Carson are in the works. Evans Army Community Hospital is also getting into the act, with a Summer Bike to Work Competition that recognizes the three employees with the most days and mileage biked to work.
The U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson and Soldiers in-processing can borrow bikes by the hour for free through the Charge of Quarters office at building 1013, part of a program spearheaded by Col. John D. Keenan, deputy garrison commander, and Capt. Daniel Kull, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison.
“Nearly all the Soldiers that come here don’t have a car,” Kull says. “We need to provide them with a service to get around post; and doing it in a sustainable way with a bicycle is even better.”
Congestion on Fort Carson is increasing -- especially with new units populating the expansion at Wilderness Road -- and cycling offers an opportunity for commuters to save money and avoid headaches.
Visit Sustainable Fort Carson on Facebook or call 526-9777 for more information regarding on- and off-post bike trails, cycling groups and bike commuter resources.