In memory of Steve Sander, Denver bicycling advocate and marketer
Steve Sander rode a bike to meetings, usually wearing a suit. (Photo by Evan Semón Photography)
We are saddened at the death of Steve Sander, a long-time Bicycle Colorado and Denver Streets Partnership partner, supporter, and donor.
Steve exemplified bike-riding joy. He rode a bike to meetings, usually wearing a suit with a fluorescent bicycle pinned to his lapel. A marketing and connecting maven, Steve included bikes – or made them the star – in promotional campaigns for the City and County of Denver, the Denver metro community, local events, and nonprofit organizations.
Steve invested his time in lifestyles that included two wheels. He was a tremendous champion for biking and bike-sharing in Denver. Steve was the creative behind two of Denver’s most notable bicycling efforts: the launch of Denver B-Cycle as Denver’s first bike-sharing program in 2010 and the ¡Viva! Streets ciclovia series in 2023.
Steve was a founding board member of Denver B-Cycle and perhaps its biggest cheerleader. He contributed to every aspect of Denver B-cycle’s hugely successful run and landed the sponsorships that underwrote the system. Piep van Heuven, former Bike Denver Executive Director and former Bicycle Policy Director, said that Steve “helped make bike commuting cool with sponsorships and art on the street. If you rode a bike, people respected you. And B-Cycle further opened bike commuting for women.
“Steve picked up the effort to launch bike sharing in Denver and carried it on his back. It was a seminal moment for biking in Denver and helped legitimize bicycling in downtown. The stations and the bikes themselves were physical, visual proof of Denver’s intent to be a bike-friendly city, and Steve led the way – making virtually every trip he took downtown by bike, in his suit and tie.”
When Denver B-Cycle launched in 2010, it was “the first large-scale bike-sharing program in the nation, on par with international programs in Paris and Montreal.” Denver B-cycle, run by the nonprofit Denver Bike Sharing, became an asset to Denver’s transportation system and an iconic part of our city. Between launching on April 22, 2010 and the end of its run in 2020, B-cycle saw:
- 540,530 total memberships
- 2,753,421 trips taken by residents and visitors
- 5,863,381 miles ridden (that’s nearly 215 trips around the equator, or 11 trips to the moon and back)
- An average of more than 1,000 trips per day on the fleet
As the nation’s first large-scale bike-sharing system, Denver B-cycle established Colorado’s reputation as an early leader in providing mobility choices for people with trusted partnerships and community engagement. After its rollout, city leaders from around the U.S. looked to Denver as the model to follow, with more than 75 bike share systems launching and expanding in all corners of the country.
Steve’s real passion at Denver B-cycle was partnerships. Whether it was creating a bike valet and parking at every home Denver Broncos game, connecting companies and their employees to alternative transportation, to local event promotion, he loved connecting the dots. Steve was dedicated to the nonprofit until its very end when Denver B-Cycle shut down in August 2020.
¡Viva! Streets Denver
During the summer of 2023, another of Steve’s passions came to life: ¡Viva! Streets Denver is a series of free community events to celebrate Denver’s vibrant neighborhoods and supports local business with temporary car-free streets. During four summer Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., car-free streets allowed Denverites to explore Broadway and Welton Street by bike, on foot, skates, pedicabs, and more.
Sam McCrory, Open Streets Program Manager for the Denver Streets Partnership, wrote, “From the beginning, Steve was incredibly passionate about making ¡Viva! Streets a success. He saw the true value of what a program like ¡Viva! Streets could do for the Denver region, and it showed in his work. He showed up to every meeting and every event with a positive attitude and an infectious smile on his face. Every time I shared a room with Steve, his mind was on how to make ¡Viva! Streets better. His energy was passed along to not only me but our entire team.
“While Steve’s contributions to ¡Viva! Streets were vital, the memories of getting to know him as a person stick with me the most. Over our time together working together on ¡Viva! Streets, I got to know a bit more about Steve Sander each day. I got to know about all the great things he had done for Denver before ¡Viva! Streets, who he was as a person, and the value he saw in the work we were doing. Steve will be in our thoughts for every ¡Viva! Streets event that happens going forward. He will always be remembered as an important figure in the genesis of this program and his presence on ¡Viva! Streets Sunday mornings will be greatly missed.”
Steve died by suicide. His friend Jackie Brown-Griggs wrote, “This tragic loss serves as a stark reminder of the importance of addressing mental health issues and providing support to those in need. We encourage community members to reach out to their friends, family, and neighbors and offer a listening ear, helping hand, and compassionate heart to those who may be struggling.” If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call or text 988, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
Friends of Steve Sander will host a public memorial event on Sunday, October 22. Organizers encourage attendees to wear casual clothing with sports logos in honor of Steve’s love of sports.
Before the event, members of the Denver bike community will meet at 10 a.m. at 29th and Larimer – near the former B-Cycle headquarters – to bike to the Greek Amphitheater at Civic Center Park for the 11:30 a.m. event
Ride organizers Sue Baldwin, Piep van Heuven, and Maggie Thompson wrote: “We want to send off our dear friend Steve with a short group ride to his service. As you know, he was an over-the-top supporter – whether it was as a founding board member of Denver B-Cycle to Viva Streets – he was committed to making biking better in Denver.”
Group bike ride and memorial event
Location: 30th and Larimer
10:00 a.m. (ride departs 10:30 a.m.)
Details: Bring your own bike and lock
Route: Larimer to 29th, to Champa, to 14th, into Civic Center Park from Bannock Street.
Facebook event page
11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.; program begins at 12 noon
Greek Amphitheater at Civic Center Park
Read more tributes to Steve Sander:
- Westword: Remembering Steve Sander, Marketing Mensch
- Denver Gazette: Denver’s business community mourns the loss of a legend
Steve Sander (middle) with Emily Snyder (left), the City and County of Denver’s first full-time bike infrastructure planner, and Maggie Thompson (right), former Bicycle Colorado and Bike Denver staff member, celebrating Denver B-Cycle.