By Phil Sarnoff –
At the end of August 2016, Bike Utah took a group of elected officials and staff from Utah on an active transportation tour of Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado. The goal of this tour was to open people’s eyes to all of the potential active transportation opportunities we have in Utah and how implementation can truly transform communities. Participating in this tour were elected officials and staff from Ogden City, Weber County, Davis County, Layton City, Provo City, BYU, Wasatch Front Regional Council, and UDOT.
Boulder and Fort Collins are two of the five Platinum Bicycle Friendly Communities nationally as designated by the League of American Bicyclists. These communities face many of the same challenges as we do in Utah: air quality; physical inactivity; and livability as well as topographic and seasonal challenges.
Boulder boasts more than 300 miles of dedicated bikeways, including a well-established multi-use pathway network that connects most of the major destinations across the city without ever having to get on a roadway. Boulder has 75 underpasses, making it possible for almost completely uninterrupted travel, no matter where you are headed. Our tour of Boulder included stops at Valmont Bike Park (one of the premiere urban bike parks in the country), Boulder Junction (a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented neighborhood), and Boulder’s protected, on-street bicycle network. This community is not without its challenges. They are facing excessively high housing costs and now dealing with the transportation impacts of having a designated urban growth boundary that is necessitating longer commute distances. Regardless, Boulder’s bicycle mode share in excess of 12% is an outstanding example of how serious investment in active transportation infrastructure can transform a community and how people get around.
Within the last few years, Fort Collins has truly ramped up their efforts and they show no sign of stopping. Their 2014 Bicycle Master Plan indicates a 7.4% bicycle mode share with a goal of 20% by 2020. They have an outstanding lineup of educational and encouragement programs, including numerous different bicycle ambassador programs targeting different populations, a wide variety of Safe Routes to School educational programs, and a bicycle friendly driver training program. Fort Collins’ bike share program launched earlier this year and is already showing early signs of success. The most inspiring part of our tour in Fort Collins was the integration of all groups in order to grow all types of bicycling. Bike Utah spoke at their monthly Northern Colorado (NoCo) Bike Show, which included city staff, advocacy group staff, trails group staff, riding clubs, and the racing community. If there is one key takeaway from Fort Collins it’s that everyone needs to be engaged collaboratively in order to get bicycling to a point where it is a widely accepted transportation and recreation mode.
Bike Utah plans to continue these tours on an annual basis and we look forward to bringing more elected officials and staff from across Utah with us.
For more information on Bike Utah, visit http://www.bikeutah.org.