Boulder bike summit aiming high: Gathering focuses on the future of cycling in Boulder

Suppose you fall asleep and don't wake up for 20 years. When you finally snap out of your slumber, Time Magazine has done a cover story titled, "Boulder: America's Best Bicycle City." What would the article look like?

Published September 8, 2007 by DailyCamera.com
By Zak Brown 

Suppose you fall asleep and don't wake up for 20 years.

When you finally snap out of your slumber, Time Magazine has done a cover story titled, "Boulder: America's Best Bicycle City." What would the article look like?

That was the hypothetical scenario posed to more than 100 of Boulder County's influential bike- and recreation-oriented people Friday. The city's Go Boulder transit program brought them together for the Boulder Bike Summit, a discussion about what could make Boulder a better place for bikes in the next 20 years.

The city is already nationally known as a bike-friendly town, but those gathered for the summit at the Outlook Hotel wanted to make it even friendlier.

"There is a whole laundry list (of topics discussed), and I'm not exactly sure what is going to come out of it," City Councilman Shaun McGrath said. "But what I hope comes out of it is the vision that encompasses all the things that can take us to a new era."

The summit came out of a City Council initiative to pursue a discussion with local bike leaders. Go Boulder will make a report from the daylong meeting, and McGrath said he hopes the report will be presented to the City Council at its Oct. 18 meeting.

There were several ideas at the summit describing what the bike community of Boulder could look like in two decades. They included:

Car-free zones. Instead of just having bike lanes, Boulder would have entire bike streets or bike neighborhoods. The definition of the zones could change, depending on time of day or year. Some streets would be bike-only during rush hour, or some neighborhoods wouldn't allow cars at all.

"Downtown, for instance, could be car-free," said Josh Brown, a volunteer board member with Community Cycles. "It's actually easier to move around downtown without a car."

Bike service stations. Some of the summit members said they envisioned a time when bike service stations would outnumber gas stations. If your chain snaps or tire goes flat, a service station would be close to help you.

Education-based initiatives. A major topic at the summit — in different forms — was education. There were suggestions to include bike skills, safety and maintenance in physical-education classes. Safer bike-to-school routes and informing parents how their children could safely ride to school were mentioned often. Educating adults about the same topics would be part of a wide-reaching Boulder bike-education program.

Integrated transit. Buses inBoulder and surrounding areas already have bike racks, but there would be more bike racks in the future and not just on buses. They would be on commuter rails and any other mass transit.

Trails would also link all communities in Boulder County to make commuting by bike between towns more of a reality. Essentially, a cyclist could go from any point in the county to any other without getting off his or her bike.

"I think, very much so, these things can be a reality," County Commissioner Will Toor said. "Other places, especially in northern Europe, have four or five times the cyclists we do, and there's no reason Boulder County can't achieve that."

World-class bicycle recreation. There would be world-class racing — both on-road and trail — in the new era of Boulder bikes. Open Space and Mountain Parks trails could be opened for racing, and races would be held at Valmont Park, which could include cross-country mountain bike and cyclo-cross courses. Major road races, like the defunct Coors Classic, would also be part of the new Boulder. And all those opportunities would be available to residents when not used for racing.