Bicycle Colorado

Colorado Pedals Project Year 2: Becoming the #1 Bike State

In September 2015, Governor Hickenlooper announced The Colorado Pedals’ Project, a bold, four-year vision to make Colorado the best state in the nation to ride a bike. Housed in Bicycle Colorado, the Pedals Project is wrapping up its second year of working across agencies and across the state to wrangle projects, programs, policies and people together in pursuit of #1. You can read a high level summary of Pedals Project goals and accomplishments by clicking here.

So … what does it take to become #1? Saddle up as we review the first two years on this journey.

Start with dedicated leadership and dedicated resources.

If you want to move the dial across the state, you need high-level leadership and resources aligned from the get-go. Thanks to Governor Hickenlooper, Bicycle Colorado and Ken Gart–the state’s bike czar–the Pedals Project was able to get out the gate and stay on track with funded programs and coordinated leadership across agencies, including regular meetings with the governor’s office to track and report progress.

Here are a few of the funding sources and dedicated resources that make the Pedals Project possible:

  • Safe Routes to School. The Colorado Department of Transportation reinstated funding for Safe Routes to School at $2.5 million each year, contributing $10 million over four years.

  • Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). GOCO pledged $30 million over three years to plan, build and improve local trails across the state as part of its “Connect” initiative.

  • Colorado 16 Trails Initiative. In 2016, the Governor announced the “16 in 16 Trails Initiative” which identified 16 high priority trails. Renamed the “Colorado 16,” focused local coalitions working with state and local agencies to champion these trails.

  • Grants. Thanks to generous support from the Colorado Health Foundation and the Gates Family Foundation, Bicycle Colorado hired two new positions on the policy team to support Pedals Project activities and advance policies supporting active transportation.

  • Culture change. Over the past 2 years, the Governor and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) now-former-director Shailen Bhatt spoke at both the Colorado Bicycle Summit and Moving People Forward Conference.

Colorado Pedals Project Partners


Foster amazing partnerships.

Thanks to the leadership of Gart and the governor’s office, the Pedals Project and Bicycle Colorado are working across agencies to break down silos and cultivate partnerships to elevate bicycling.

  • State agencies. Becoming #1 isn’t possible without cooperation and collaboration from state agencies including: CDOT, the Department of Natural Resources, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) and the Department of Local Affairs.

  • Great Outdoors Colorado. Through a variety of initiatives and grant programs, GOCO is a primary funding source to plan, build and connect trails. GOCO is working closely with state and local agencies to leverage these funds, more than doubling the initial investments.

  • Local jurisdictions. Through Pedals Project programs, Bicycle Colorado is working with numerous cities, towns and counties to support planning, building and celebrating bicycle-friendly projects.

Act like we are #1 and then prove it.

In Colorado, riding a bike for recreation and transportation is part of our cultural identity. We have unmatched terrain diversity with mountains, plains, deserts and cities within hours of each other. We have the perfect climate and one of the healthiest populations in the nation. We have industry leaders headquartered in Colorado and a robust bicycle tourism market.

  • Economic and Health Benefits of Bicycling and Walking in Colorado Report. In Colorado, riding a bike is an important vehicle for health, both physical and economic. Last year, CDOT, CDPHE and OEDIT published a report documenting the $1.6 billion in economic and health benefits bicycling brought to Colorado in 2015. A number that is increasing annually thanks to more people riding and more places to safely ride.

  • Colorado Trail Experience Resource (COTREX). On 2017 National Trails Day, the Department of Natural Resources launched COTREX, a comprehensive digital resource with nearly every trail in Colorado. This enormous undertaking is the first in the country to include federal, state, regional and local trails all in one place.

  • League of American Bicyclists Rankings After taking a year off to revise the state ranking methodology, the League of American Bicyclists recently announced the 2017 Bicycle Friendly States rankings. Colorado moved up from #7 to #6. We are on our way up!

  • Bring back professional racing. In 2017, professional racing returned to Colorado with the Colorado Classic and Velorama Festival drawing worldwide bicycle attention to the state once again.

  • Land the Outdoor Retailer Expo and Convention. Beginning January 2018, Colorado will host the Outdoor Retailer Expo and Convention shows. This trade show will bring 45,000 attendees and $45 million in economic impact to Colorado.

Innovate and work with partners.

  • Thanks to the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado is the first state to make Strava Metro data available to cities, counties and other qualified partners to enhance active transportation planning and accommodations.

  • More people have been trained by Strava to use data for improved bicycle and pedestrian planning in Colorado than any other state.

  • The RoadX Bicycle and Pedestrian Challenge was the first state-sponsored innovation challenge to harness technology to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. Over 300 ideas from around the world were submitted, five of which were awarded prizes for ideas and three awarded prizes to pilot their technology in Colorado in 2018.

Bicycle Colorado

About the Author: Bicycle Colorado

Bicycle Colorado is a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in Denver. We use advocacy, education and passion to make Colorado one of the most bicycle-friendly states in the nation. We encourage and promote bicycling, increase safety, improve conditions and provide a voice for people who ride bicycles in Colorado. With the support of our members and numerous partnerships across the public and private sector, we’ve made significant strides in improving bicycling since 1992.


Jon Suzuki - Reply

Looking forward to soon being a Colorado resident (Durango), and being able to not only enjoy the tremendous variety of trails and roads, but hopefully become (personally) involved in helping Colorado achieve it’s goal of being the number one cycling state!

Steve Litt - Reply

I love your picture of recumbent trikes cruising on the bike path. I just “graduated” to a recumbent tadpole trike last year. Make cycling safe and accessible to all. We need more protected lanes and paths. Make them wide, too. Trikes and pedestrians need width.

Mark Drake - Reply

I was delighted to see the picture of the recumbent cycle. I am a disabled cyclist and ride a handcycle. Recumbents and
Handcycles have a wider footprint and there are still some obstacles on paths the only allow a bicycle to enter or proceed some trails that are also used by pedestrians. I was pleased to see that many such entrances have been widened. Because of mobility limitations many adaptive riders in the past been unable to overcome those obstacles.
I have worked on many municipal cycling projects in the Sacramento California area and owned two Bicycle Shops in Southern Sacramento County. I would be interested in participating in planning and promoting adaptive and able bodied cycling in Northern Colorado and the Front Range.


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