Boulder County - Letter to the Cycling Community

October 10, 2013
Dear Boulder County Cyclists and Cycling Community:

We are writing to ask for your patience and cooperation as Boulder County continues its extensive flood recovery efforts. We know that cycling opportunities throughout the county have decreased due to the sheer magnitude of damage to our roadway system caused by the historic September flooding.

We also know that these extenuating conditions have been frustrating and have adversely impacted the way you live, travel, and recreate.

Since the flood, it has been the county’s priority to help our most impacted residents gain safe access to their homes. We’ve done this by working to repair affected roads as quickly as possible. In order for our crews to work to restore road access to all users, we have asked both motorists and bicyclists to limit their use of county roads west of the foothills.

Despite our public pleas, however, we continue to experience traffic congestion that is impeding our road work in these heavily damaged areas.

We are asking for this limitation on all modes of travel so that local residents, emergency responders, utility providers and road maintenance work crews can engage in essential rebuilding activities

In addition to this request, we are also particularly concerned about unsafe cycling conditions that will continue as extensive road repairs are made throughout our mountain communities.

These unsafe conditions include:
• Increased volumes of heavy construction and road maintenance equipment along our compromised roadways
• Steep drop-offs along many roadways from washed-away ditches
• Destroyed, damaged or washed-away roadway shoulders that typically serve to separate vehicle and bicycle travel, allow pull-offs by cyclists, and enable safe passing by vehicles
• Persistent debris on roadways from existing and recurring rock slide activity

While these conditions are experienced by both motorists and bicyclists, bicyclists are much more likely to have their safety compromised by them. For this reason, the county has temporarily closed several roads to cycling while we work to restore our roadway infrastructure. We recognize this may not feel fair, but we believe these closures are necessary until our roads can properly function for all modes of travel.

Like you, we wish cycling opportunities could return to their pre-flood status more quickly. The county has invested considerably in developing its bicycle facilities, both on roads and regional trails, and is committed to encouraging bicycling and building roads that are safe for all users. We know how important this activity is for residents and visitors and how it adds significant value to our area.

Until we reconstruct the damaged roads so they are safe for all users, we encourage cyclists to use the east county roads that are open, or to take your bike on the bus or drive up Boulder Canyon with your bike and take advantage of the Peak to Peak Highway and stop in for lunch or coffee in Nederland.

As the weeks continue, we will keep you informed of roadway conditions on our website at

In addition, we will continue the discussion with you about how the county can help create safe, enjoyable cycling opportunities in Boulder County during this most unusual time.

As we go forward together, we thank you again for your understanding and patience.


George Gerstle

News Item: 


Cycling and safety

It’s reasonable to ask people to avoid unnecessary trips up or down canyon roads that are being rebuilt after their destruction by devastating floods. If traffic of any sort is allowed on the roads, however, is an outright ban on bicycle traffic reasonable? I don't think so.

Our transportation director seems to believe that safe passing by vehicles is dependent on not having cyclists in their way. See his comment, for example, about how "shoulders allow pull-offs by cyclists, and enable safe passing by vehicles,"

In fact, safe passing is more dependent on cyclists and motorists alike being responsible and obeying traffic laws.

If the roads are not safe for traffic, they should be closed to everyone. We are all traffic.

Boulder Canyon

I was stupid enough to ride a mile on Boulder Canyon yesterday. Not technically closed to bicycle traffic but it is a very bad idea. There is no room on the sides due to all of the debris and the road is jammed with huge trucks and traffic. I am reminded that it is the only way up into the mountains from Boulder County right now. I don't think that we need to exercise our rights as cyclists by getting in the way of workers, residents and others that need this road. I am staying on the flats and building my quads for fall. Hope you all join me!


Thank you for your work rebuilding the roads for everyone. If construction work is actually going on on these roads, then closing them to cycling *while construction is actually happening* may make sense. Is construction work happening on the weekends? Early mornings? Maybe something other than a blanket closure would feel much fairer.

Also, closing the road because of a little shoulder damage is nanny statism at its worst - especially with the accompanying suggestion of riding Peak 2 Peak. Traffic up there is insane right now (I was there today and last Tues). I'll take my chances on some abrupt shoulder (it was limited before anyway) rather than fight a ton of high speed traffic.

Finally, I'm left wondering what law allows highway closures to just a specific mode of transportation. Is this even legal?

Sunshine closed to bikes

Where can we find out which roads are open to cyclists? I've searched, and can't find any information about whether bikes are allowed to ride Sunshine Canyon. The online city path/underpass closure map doesn't say. The online county road closure map doesn't say.

One day last week I road most of the way up the paved section, and it seemed fully repaired, about as safe as usual, and not particularly congested. The next day there was a "no bicycles: heavy truck traffic" sign at the entrance. And in about 5 minutes of sitting there, I saw one truck, and only a moderate number of cars.