Update: I heard from Heaven Fest organizers. Thanks for your attention on this!
This isn’t a city or county government, but a private event. The Heaven Fest Colorado Christian Music Festival at Longmont’s Union Reservoir have banned biking and walking to the event as part of their traffic management plan.”
30,000 or more people are expected to come from all over the Rocky Mountain region to attend a huge Christian music festival in Weld County, Colorado. Union Reservoir, which sits just east of the Boulder County line, is owned by the city of Longmont, Colorado. Most traffic is expected to come in from the east on State Highway 119, although several thousand attendees can be expected to come in from Boulder County as well.
The event on July 31 will generate several thousands of trips, and Heaven Fest planners are spending about $20,000 just on transportation management. The traffic plan, however, encourages motorized vehicle travel to the venue to the exclusion of all other modes of transportation.
“Safety is our first concern,” Heaven Fest organizers explain on their website, but then they spill the beans and reveal their true intent on the final sentence: “So that we can keep things moving fast for concert-goers over on Hwy 119.”
They further explain, “Because the concert gets out around midnight, there are serious concerns about tons of bikes (some without the proper lighting) and pedestrians being released onto County, State and local highways and roads late at night.” How about placing the concern where it belongs, which is with the large motorized vehicles that actually cause the safety problems? When you have a bull in the china shop, do you pack the china away in the attic? Or do you lasso that bull and tie it down?
One of the reasons organizers moved the event to Longmont was because of long waits from people who had to park! PEOPLE WHO RIDE THEIR BIKES OR WALK CAN AVOID THIS PARKING WAIT ALMOST COMPLETELY. More bikes and feet = fewer cars = more parking for everybody else. These traffic planners from the stone ages should encourage biking and walking, not ban it!
I once lived within shouting distance of Union Reservoir just over the county line in Longmont. Event organizers are correct that their location on the edge of town means narrow roads with few pedestrian facilities, although there is a path on the west side of County Line. The solution for this volume of traffic, of course, is for everybody to slow down!
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Weld County Road (WCR) 26 from Deerwood Drive in Longmont is a dirt road that comes into the festival area straight from County Line Road that bypasses the death monster parking area off of Hwy 119 completely. The Heaven Fest organizers acknowledge that WCR26 is the logical place for bike and walking access, but because there’s no crosswalk at that location, they went for the nuclear option and banned human powered traffic completely. They’ll even have volunteer traffic marshals posted along County Line Road to turn back people who try to cross the road!
Here’s a suggestion: You’re already using several volunteer and paid traffic wardens to direct traffic on Highway 119 into the parking area. You already have the goon squad turning those walkers away. Why not put those traffic wardens to good use at WCR26 & County Line Road stopping the real danger — motor traffic — to allow those pedestrians and cyclists to safely pass? It’s not difficult. Here are the advantages of this for you and your event — you:
(1) ensure safe passage of non-motorized transportation;
(2) encourage biking and walking to Heaven Fest in Longmont;
(3) decrease parking and traffic pressure on Highway 119, which especially decreases the pressure of the left turning traffic into the parking arean coming from Boulder County;
(4) avoid aggravating the east Longmont residents who’d rather walk or bike to the festival anyway.
(5) BONUS: Better access and traffic flow for those emergency vehicles, vendors and band traffic that will be coming in on WCR 26 anyway.
There’s also a multi million dollar multi use trail that runs all the way across Longmont straight to Sandstone Ranch Park, which is directly across from the Fairview Lane event entry! Gah — Heaven Fest’s transportation plan is so misinformed and — sorry to say it, but — stupid! that I’m literally sputtering with frustration as I type this. Yes, it’s a private event and the organizers can do what they want, but this type of ignorance really needs to be fought. It’s the same mindset behind Black Hawk’s bike ban, or the proposed bike ban in St Charles County Missouri.
By the way, if you’re going to ban *all* bikes because there are “some without the proper lighting” (sheesh!), how about banning all cars and trucks because a good fraction of them have equipment violations? 20% of Colorado drivers are uninsured! It’s a ridiculous non-sequitor to punish an entire population based on the actions of a few.
Permitting was in March so perhaps it’s a little late, but perhaps your voice can make a difference for next year. If you’re so inclined, please let Heaven Fest organizers know how you feel on Twitter and Facebook, or try their email contacts, especially if you live in Boulder or Weld Counties, and especially if you might be inclined to attend at least part of the festivities. Let them know:
- Banning bike and pedestrian access is unfairly and needlessly discrimantory;
- The safety and vehicle equipment concerns Heaven Fest cites are more applicable to cars and trucks than they are to bikes and walkers;
- Encouraging bike and walk access will encourage more local participation;
- Encouraging bike and walk access will ease transportation and parking issues;
- Access through WCR 26 is easily handled by stationing traffic wardens on County Line Road at Deerwood / WCR 26.
Union Reservoir is owned by the city of Longmont, Colorado. I’ve already contacted that city’s transportation planners for their commentary, but this is under the purview of the parks department.
The Longmont Times Call agrees with me in their editorial:
If traffic is such an issue, accommodating alternative means of transportation should be a priority. Other major events, even those in high-traffic locations, somehow find a way to safely welcome walkers and bikers. The Mile High Music Festival, which draws thousands of people to Commerce City every summer, even provides instructions on how to find bike racks.