By Bill Plock
What is your vision for the best biking experience possible in Colorado? Is it having safe, designated roads to help you bike to work? Perhaps it’s having trails and roads seamlessly connected and well-marked to make travel to other cities and regions easier. Maybe it’s simply riding in the dirt for fun, or climbing through our hundreds of miles of mountainous roads.
The vision is the key. But whose vision- or visions- drive the questions, and ultimately the answers?
Here, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Mikael Colville-Andersen, a global voice in urban planning from Copenhagen, Ken Gart, the Colorado Bike Czar, Tim Blunenthal, President of People for Bikes, and Shailen Bhatt Executive Director for the Colorado Department of Transportation all shared their vision of cycling in Colorado. Each with their own twists and experience, but with a common goal - to make cycling in Colorado the best it can possibly be.
Over 200 people ranging from local advocates, city planners, industry leaders and cycling enthusiasts came to listen and offer their visions about ways to keep moving Colorado forward toward Governor Hickenlooper’s ultimate goal - to be the "best bike-friendly state in the country."
In his presentation yesterday, the Governor committed to riding every one of his 16 trails for 2016 that were identified a few weeks back as part of his pledge to infuse 100 million dollars into making Colorado just that---the best biking state in the country.
But it starts with small visions, and the goals and hopes we all have. Mikael Colville-Andersen works with cities all over the world helping them craft their visions into realities. He says it begins with observations, and no assumptions. He studies human behavior and has coined the term “desire lanes” to help map where people want to go, not where they are forced to go. He looks at streets like democracy - venues to serve all people, not just cars. He boils it down to the simple, how many people can we move down streets. “A-to-B-ism,” he calls it, simply: people want to move from point A to point B as easily and efficiently as possible.
Executive Director of CDOT, Shailen Bhatt, admits the landscape is fiscally difficult to provide ideal roads for the safest possible cycling, but shared his vision for a future of safe biking in Colorado. He would not oppose a hike in the gas tax to help pay for it and said, “After the the Highway 36 project ribbon cutting and biking home to Stapleton, I’m lucky to be here-- it’s not safe.”
Of course cycling is much more than commuting as we all know. The Bike Summit brings all concerns and visions to light and gives everyone a chance to be heard. Breakout sessions tackled challenges specific to women cyclists who hope for more group rides, workshops and education and simple inclusion.
Groups conversed about ways to make roads safer and how to spread the word of concerns to lawmakers and city planners. Others shared thoughts on improving recreational paths and linking mountain bike trails.
Like the roads and trails we ride, it’s a network. Yesterday and today a network of people who all deeply care about cycling converged to make a difference. People for Bikes President Blenenthal rephrased a popular quote of John F. Kennedy when he said, “Think not what communities can do for cyclists, but what cyclists can do for communities!”
The Summit provides a framework for effective networking with people with unique visions while listening to those who influence populations the most. Today, attendees congregated at the Capitol to engage with state legislators and share all of these visions and challenges in hopes that together amenable solutions can be found for all citizens.
For detailed play-by-play of the presentations, and more photos, check out 303cycling's twitter feed