Westword's Comprehensive Look at Denver Cycling

Denver Westword magazine takes a comprehensive look at the recent growth in cycling in Denver, how the Democratic National Convention may have been a catalyst and sparked the B-Cycle program, and how the city is addressing safety through engineering and educational efforts.

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Based on U.S. Census American Community Survey data, there has been a 57 percent rise in Denver commuters biking to work since 2005, and a 132 percent increase over the last twelve years. About 2.2 percent of Denver commuters now bike to work, which is four times the national average of about .5 percent bike commuters. A June report by the Downtown Denver Partnership estimates that around 7,000 employees ride bikes to downtown every day, which comes out to about 6 percent of those working downtown — with an average one-way commute of 3.57 miles. And B-cycle reports an average of about 844 checkouts a day so far this year.

If Denver is able to fill gaps in its bike infrastructure network so that cyclists can get around with ease, this could become a top-tier city for cycling, enthusiasts say.

"This is something I tell the advocates a lot: It will all get done, it's just a matter of how fast," Snyder says.

Dan Grunig, executive director of Bicycle Colorado, the statewide advocacy group, says he thinks Denver could be one of the best American cities for bikes, if it just built a transportation system that supported them. "What we're really talking about is paint," he points out. "Paint is cheap. We've got tons of concrete already. It's more just using what we have efficiently. It's just signage and setting that expectation.

"We have one of the strongest riderships for cities in the country just with the number of people biking to work," he adds. "But we are kind of middle, mediocre, in terms of the amount of bicycle facilities."...

Mayor Hancock wants to make Denver a world-class city where everyone matters. But do cyclists matter more than others?

Funding of bike-pedestrian projects — which include bicycle pavement markings, new trails and trail maintenance, and also major projects like bridges and underpasses for bikes and pedestrians — has increased dramatically in recent years. In 2006, the city spent $2.1 million in this area, which grew to $4.5 million in 2007, $7.7 million in 2009, and $10.5 million in 2011. Hancock likes to emphasize the vision of moving people and not just cars. "We're really working to build a culture where it's very multi-modal," he says. "It makes sense for us economically and it makes sense for us environmentally." Hancock, who says he tries to ride a bike once or twice a week for exercise, points out that cycling is a tourism draw, too: "There's nothing more gratifying to me than seeing families riding their bicycles...and enjoying themselves."

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