Kate Brady has roots in Colorado — her grandparents built a cabin in 1937 in nearby Cascade. So when her parents retired to Fort Collins, she seized an opportunity to be closer to the mountains and biking trails she loves.
The new city bike planner for Colorado Springs, Brady’s job is to bolster the city’s biking culture by connecting bike lanes to trails and providing more bike access throughout the city.
She took time to tell the Business Journal about her goals, her passion for cycling and her love of the outdoors.
Tell us about your background.
I have a bachelor’s degree in math from Carleton College in Minnesota and a master’s degree in urban and environmental planning from the University of Virginia. I consider myself from Minnesota, even though we moved around a lot when I was young. I moved here after working as the bicycle and pedestrian planner in Oklahoma City. I took a job as Monument’s city planner in October, and took the job as the bike planner when the position came open.
Why did the bike planner position in Colorado Springs appeal to you?
Oklahoma City and Colorado Springs have several things in common as far as the challenges they face in getting to be more bicycle-friendly. I’m proud of the progress we were able to make in Oklahoma City, and I thought I could bring that expertise here. The Springs has advantages that Oklahoma City doesn’t. There’s already a very active cycling community and the staff is doing some great work. It’s a great time to get involved because there is really a grassroots effort going on.
What are some of your goals?
We’re standing up a bike master plan and starting to select a consultant to begin the process. On June 3, we’ll have the inaugural Colorado Springs Bike Summit and on June 22, the city’s hosting Bike to Work day. I’m tangentially involved in both. It’s going to be a busy time — I’m really jumping into this, getting to understand the challenges and the solutions. I ride my bike everywhere I go, almost, so it’s good to have that firsthand experience.
We want to create a culture where people can have fun going where they need to go.
What are the challenges?
We’re mainly focusing on connecting existing pieces of the trails and bike lanes. We want to make sure you can ride your bike to the trails — and then connect downtown with Old Colorado City and Garden of the Gods — all the places people go on their bikes. I acknowledge that there’s a need for a solution to connect bike lanes and trails; it’s just challenging in the details.
There’s also another challenge, but it’s also an opportunity. We have a very strong recreational cycling culture here. People ride their bikes for fun. So, they look at their cars for when they want to go somewhere, and go to their bikes when they want to have fun. We want to combine the two. We want to create a culture where people can have fun going where they need to go — on their bikes.
The city isn’t really laid out for that, it’s very spread out and there are substantial natural and man-made barriers to that. But I think we can get there. There is so much opportunity here; so much has already been done.
Why is it important to develop a bike-friendly city?
There are so many reasons. There are the obvious health benefits. But there are some people who can’t or don’t drive — either from choice or circumstance —and they need to get around as well. Also, there are considerable environmental benefits to our infrastructure. And it’s fun.
Bicycling also has some economic benefits. The last study showed that there was $28 million in direct economic benefits to the region — from cycling alone.
Our biking culture comes up over and over again when companies are looking at Colorado Springs, considering a move. They want to know if you can get around by bicycle. Also, there are several biking companies that are located here because of the access to the outdoors. We need to support them as well.
What was the last book you read?
I read “Scribbling the Cat” by Alexandra Fuller. The book is a memoir about travels in Africa where the author befriends a battle-scarred veteran of the Rhodesian war. The two end up traveling to Zimbabwe together to meet other war veterans.
What do you do for fun?
I ride my bike; I do yoga; I read. I love hiking. The trails in Oklahoma City, I had them to myself. It’s great to be here and see so many people outside.