Top Down or Bottom Up: An Interview with Colorado Public Radio

John Olson, of CSUI, spoke with Colorado Public Radio a couple weeks ago about Tactical Urbanism. The discussion was about the inclusiveness of Government in interventions and experiences from the Public Sector in Denver and the organizational level in Colorado Springs with CSUI.

Story and Audio:


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Do YOU have an Intervention Idea that You want to See in our Area?

We want to hear from YOU! Join your peers of Urban Intervention on Thursday, March 13 at the “Machine Shop”, an innovative very new (not quite finished), co-working space at 4 South Wahsatch Avenue in Downtown Colorado Springs.

We want to hear your thoughts in a brief 7-minute presentation of what you would like to see happen. Your ideas don’t have to be in Downtown Colorado Springs, in fact they don’t even have to be IN Colorado Springs. They just need to be accessible and cool ideas! Join us, present, or simply observe and be ready to assist. We will have a computer and projector ready and yes, we are encouraging a Pecha Kucha format (20 slides, 20 seconds each).

The audience will decide on at least one intervention from the evening to take on, and you’ll have many hands in assisting making your intervention ideas a reality! For ideas and inspiration, a great article on Tactical Urbanism can be found here:

A great Denver resource of Tactical Urbanism can be found here:

And of course we post many ideas and thoughts on interventions on our Facebook Page here:

For those who are unaware of what Colorado Springs Urban Intervention is, please check the About Section. The brief synopsis is that we are a multi-award-winning organization of people who get $hit done. In the past two years, we have won awards from USGBC Colorado, Colorado Springs Downtown Partnership, and Fort Carson for Better Block Pikes Peak and Curbside Cuisine.

Hope to see you there, follow the comments at this web page for updates on the event!

Date: February 13, 2014
Time: 5:30 pm – ?


Location: The Machine Shop, 4 South Wahsatch
An Architectural Rendering of the Machine Shop, currently under construction, provided by Echo Architecture.

An Architectural Rendering of the Machine Shop, currently under construction, provided by Echo Architecture.

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Help Us Find Our Way To Walkability

Colorado Springs Urban Intervention is planning a new project and we need your help.

Our mission:
We want to show visitors and downtown regulars alike just how walkable downtown Colorado Springs really is.

Our means:
We will place temporary pedestrian wayfinding signs on the existing downtown wayfinding signs, which you might not have ever noticed as they tend to blend in and fail offer much direction.

The signposts are located on the northwest and southeast corners of all intersections along Tejon between Vermijo and Platte and on the southeast corners along Cascade and northwest corners along Nevada.

How you can help:
The next step in the process is to plan out which signs will go where and how they will all fit together. In order to do that, we need several eager volunteers and perhaps their helpful friends to take a couple blank cardboard pieces and zip ties out with a list of destinations and their imaginations.

When and where you can help:
If you want to help us plan out these downtown wayfinding signs, meet up with us at Phantom Canyon at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 6. When we’re all finished, we can celebrate with drinks. The more people we have helping, the sooner we’ll get to happy hour, so invite you’re friends to help. We’ll give you more detail and direction when you arrive.

Contact Amanda if you have questions or comments:

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Better Block Pikes Peak Video – 2012

It has been one year since a community of “do-ers” came together to demonstrate how a prominent good street in Downtown Colorado Springs could be a Great Street for People! Please explore our prior blog posts for statistics and valuable data that came from Better Block Pikes Peak.

The Art of Better Block Pikes Peak:
Better Block Pikes Peak Vehicular Traffic Data:
Time Lapse Video from Better Block Pikes Peak:

Enjoy our video as we celebrate the accomplishments from Better Block Pikes Peak, 2012.

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Introducing Curbside Cuisine: Colorado Springs Premier Food Truck Park


Press Release Curbside Cuisine 4/22/2013

The Food Trucks are Coming! The Food Trucks are Coming

Great news! Curbside Cuisine, Colorado Spring’s own food truck mall is ready to fly! We have found a terrific downtown location next to the Downtown YMCA at the corner of Nevada and Platte across from Palmer High School and Acacia Park at 225 North Nevada Avenue. Where once there was a gas station and car repair service, you will soon find Curbside Cuisine. The property is owned by the YMCA who is one of our key partners in this venture. General Palmer and his horse oversee a very busy intersection that is perfect. Opening Day is projected for May 15! We are hoping you will be part of this exciting, new project which is a clear signal of change for downtown Colorado Springs.

Spend a few minutes in the space and you will be amazed at the number of pedestrians who are in the immediate area — students and staff from Palmer High School, YMCA members before and after a workout, downtown residents who cross through Acacia Park on their way to an appointment, office workers escaping from their offices at lunch time, bike riders with children in tow. Add to that easy parking for the high volume of vehicles on Nevada and Platte who will turn in and find super easy parking.

The transformation from a broken down corner in our downtown to a bustling, vibrant happening will be fast and wonderfully exciting. There is a lot to do and we are ready to start. Here is the plan:

  • First we are going to transform what has become an eyesore… power wash the building, repair the canopies, hang banners from the existing sign posts, and add paint… lots of paint! Remember the transformation for Better Block? Using the Better Block model, we are lining up a ton of volunteers to help with a warp speed cleanup, add greenery in the big horse troughs, add chalkboard art, and painted tires to completely change the space.
  • Imagine 6-8 food trucks or trailers setup facing Nevada Avenue with a line of folks waiting to place orders, the menu signs out front, diners sitting under the canopies or walking across the street to the park to eat at one of the unique street food choices, and you are part of a new downtown experience. Make plans to join us as we help transform downtown Colorado Springs.
  • No more need to drive around to find your favorite food truck. Here they are all in one place ready to tempt you with breakfast crepes, barbeque smoked wings, wood-fired pizza, organic juices, Korean kimchi tacos, poor boys, gumbo, mini bundt cakes and desserts.

Curbside Cuisine’s primary goal is to provide a food truck pod in downtown Colorado Springs which will give unique street food options. Curbside Cuisine is a semi-permanent installation that will enhance the walkable environment and provide outdoor dining in an under-utilized space in the center of our downtown area. With the launch of Curbside Cuisine, Colorado Springs will join the highly successful models of Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Denver who have helped launch culinary entrepreneurs while creating 15%+ gains in pedestrian traffic for nearby businesses.

The local concept is the brainchild of a group of downtown advocates who are excited to be doing something to enhance our community. As an Organizing Team, we have resisted the urge to overcomplicate the initial steps leading to startup, but rather have chosen to act. We found in the Colorado Springs Urban Intervention (CSUI) at the Pikes Peak Community Foundation a group of like-minded folks willing to serve as our not-for-profit organizational structure. The Organizing Team serves as an intermediary between the independent food truck vendors and CSUI.

Curbside Cuisine will contract with food truck owners for space on a month-to-month basis who are selected on their unique, freshly created, healthy food offerings sold in price range from $ 5.00-$8.00. The selection criteria will include the décor of the truck/trailer, the uniqueness of the menu, and the quality of the products. Hours of operation are 6:30am to 8:00pm, seven days a week. To maximize offerings during the high demand lunch hour and cover the breakfast and evening openings, vendors will be able to select either a morning/lunch or a lunch/evening schedule. Trucks/Trailers will remain on-site for the length of the contract with overnight security provided. The large amount of real estate at 225 North Nevada allows for future expansion to include up to 15 food trucks and 2-3 related businesses to occupy the existing structure. We are committed to operating Curbside Cuisine with a goal of zero waste and encouraging vendors to use local food suppliers where possible.

We are looking for volunteers and a few unique additions to our food truck options. Interested?

Contact: Sandra Vanderstoep 719-330-8979




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The Art of Better Block Pikes Peak

The following post is part of a larger series of posts sharing the photographs provided by Bussanich~Kjeldsen Art during Better Block Pikes Peak. Better Block Pikes Peak was a 24-hour urban intervention testing the built environment in Downtown Colorado Springs from Friday, September 21 at noon until Saturday, September 22 at noon.

Art played a very large role in Better Block Pikes Peak. The demonstration in its entirety could be viewed as a temporary art piece in itself, however the components of the non-event were also carefully incorporated. The following photos illustrate some of the artistic contributions of Better Block Pikes Peak. Enjoy!

A chalkboard wall, graciously borrowed from Sk8-Strong, was used to gather comments and feedback from the public. Some chose to use the chalkboard, and sidewalk below, for creating their own art.

The median served as a place for people to gather and perform on the evening of Friday, September 21. Other street performances during Better Block included Hula-Hooping and guitar playing, as can be seen in the Time Lapse Video (prior post).

Tires served the purpose of planters for Better Block Pikes Peak and as barriers between the automobile traffic and pedestrian traffic. Recycled tires were provided by Rex Tires, painted white by the team, and colorfully painted again by children and adults who experienced the What If Festival in Colorado Springs the week before Better Block Pikes Peak.

The modifications to the median of Pikes Peak Avenue invited visitors to not only experience the median, but also to provide opportunities to experience art that previously existed, as in the photo above. New temporary art was incorporated by Colorado Springs artist, Bill Burgess.

This photograph illustrates the juxtaposition of the Heritage of Colorado Springs with Spencer Penrose (a permanent feature of Pikes Peak Avenue), with the kiosk for Better Block Pikes Peak at the entrance of Pikes Peak from Tejon. The Better Block Pikes Peak kiosk was designed and created by Scott Schuster of RTA Architects with recycled fiber barrels and refuse from the City signs.

Several pieces of sculpture were brought in to create the sculpture garden of Pikes Peak Avenue. All new sculpture pieces are the work of Bill Burgess, also the sculptor of “Continuum”, or otherwise known as the “Julie Penrose Fountain” in America the Beautiful Park.

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Better Block Pikes Peak Vehicular Traffic Data

As we have told many people before, during and after Better Block Pikes Peak (BBPP), the fundamental purpose of BBPP was to experiment with the public realm. One of the experiments conducted was to see how vehicular traffic experienced the urban intervention. We discussed and debated what and how much that we would modify for the experiment. Some of our variables were mandated by the City of Colorado Springs, such as the width of the lanes that were maintained. For Pikes Peak Avenue, we maintained the width of one the two outside lanes on the street – or twelve feet (12′).

This photo taken in the late afternoon of Friday, September 21, captures the temporary improvements of Better Block Pikes Peak. Image Credit: BUSSANICH~KJELDSEN Art

We also wanted to make sure that the intervention gave some preference to the pedestrian and bicyclist, so our largest debate was whether or not we changed the speed limit of the street to 5 mph. We started to make signs and prepare for this until…

Before I get to that… Let me start by saying that there were a LOT of great ideas from the community in putting BBPP in place. But perhaps one of the greatest ideas/suggestions came from Mr. Gerrit Slater, of Matrix Design Group. He suggested the use of the City’s new measurement equipment that measured the volume and velocity of vehicular traffic. When this started to fall in place, we decided to scrap the signs because we wanted a true measurement of how traffic would actually interact, rather than a sign suggesting that vehicles only travel 5 mph.

This proved to be the right choice. Although, we did not experience 5 mph vehicular traffic, the traffic speeds were slowed down enough to safely walk across one lane of traffic.

Because this was an experiment, we were prepared and equipped with our hypothesis, control data, the variable of the intervention to the street, data and our conclusions.

  • Experiment: To Transform auto-dominated street, Pikes Peak Avenue, between Nevada and Tejon, into an urban street that becomes pedestrian-oriented. The 4-lane street with 60-degree angle parking on both sides of the street and in the center median is to be transformed into a 2-lane street, maintaining the 60-degree angle parking on the outer sides of the street only. The median is to become ‘a place for people’, and allow the people to experience amazing vista of ‘America’s Mountain’, Pikes Peak in a downtown setting.
  • Hypothesis: The team expected to see a decrease in vehicular velocities, and potentially slow traffic to two red light cycles. We also expected to see a decrease in the volume of vehicles on the street.
  • Control: Travel lanes were to remain as they are today, or 12-foot lanes. On-street parking was to remain for the outer lanes of traffic. Measurements for Pikes Peak Avenue commenced on Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 8:00 am and measured volume and velocity until Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 12:00 am.
  • Variable: Decrease of two lanes of vehicular traffic for 24-hours, plus set up and take down time. The times where traffic was reduced to two lanes were from 6:00 am on Friday, September 21, 2012 until approximately 4:00 pm on Saturday, September 22, 2012. Set up occurred on Friday until 12:00 pm (noon); Take down occurred Saturday from noon until 4:00 pm.
  • Data: The following charts, provided by Matrix Design Group and the City of Colorado Springs, show the changes in volume and velocity of Pikes Peak Avenue.

Pikes Peak Avenue, Westbound Velocity (Bar Graph) and Westbound Volume (Line Graph). See Legend above for the different days. Modifications occurred between 6 am on 9/21 through 4 pm on 9/22.

Pikes Peak Avenue, Eastbound Velocity (Bar Graph) and Eastbound Volume (Line Graph). See Legend above for the different days. Modifications occurred between 6 am on 9/21 through 4 pm on 9/22.
  • Conclusion: By transforming Pikes Peak Avenue to a street where all modes of transportation can still occur, with an increased emphasis toward the pedestrian, vehicular traffic volumes increased and vehicular traffic velocities decreased.

This experiment of Better Block Pikes Peak was seen to be a great success, especially when it is combined with the time lapse video showing an increase of pedestrian traffic from normal conditions. The time lapse video also shows that vehicular traffic was not impeded by anymore than it is in its present condition. Traffic still made it through the block in one street light cycle.

Thank you again to the City of Colorado Springs and the Gerrit Slater for their efforts in the traffic experiment/intervention!

~ John W. Olson, RLA | LEED-AP | CNU-a

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