Meet Anthony, a Colorado transportation planner “riding the ride”
Anthony Avery is a bike-friendly multi-modal transportation planner, a member of the Millennial generation and a proud supporter of Bicycle Colorado. We’re pleased he shared his story with us and hope you enjoy.
Why, how and where do you ride?
Cycling is how I acclimated to the weather when I moved to east Denver from Arizona in 2014. I went from 110 degrees in the summer to 0 degrees in the winter. We have 300 days of sunshine and by incorporating cycling into my daily routine, I’m outside enjoying at least 250 of the gorgeous days (in addition to all the rainy and snowy days I enjoy by bike, as well).
For the most part, my riding consists of utilitarian trips. I have an 11-mile, one-way commute to work and otherwise mostly ride around town for errands. I just checked my Strava data and this year I haven’t done any strictly recreational rides. Every time I’ve gotten on a bike it’s been for a purpose.
What does “cycling community” mean to you?
I actually try to avoid pigeonholing people who use a bike for transportation or recreation into their own “community.” We’re all part of our local communities whether we walk, bike, skateboard, drive or take transit. The mode of transportation we use doesn’t define us.
It can also be a little scary for people who are interested in getting on a bike if they feel like they’re intruding on a sect of the population. Cycling is all-inclusive, and a great and healthy way for everybody in Colorado to get around town, explore our state, or just enjoy being outside!
The more I bike, the more in touch with my neighborhood I become. I interact more with the people I see on the street and feel more passion for improving my city.
Why are you a bicycling advocate?
I like to say I didn’t start advocating because I rode a bike, but I started riding a bike because I was advocating for better infrastructure and figured I should walk the walk. Or ride the ride, as it were.
Bike infrastructure has been terribly underfunded and under-engineered over time, and it takes real effort to overcome not only that past disinvestment, but also to change our current investment priorities. If we made biking easier, more people would bike. We’ve seen this be successful in other locations throughout the country and even around the world. It will create more vibrant downtowns and neighborhoods, safer streets and inject additional revenue into our economy because we’re not sending so much of our income out of state to pay for our cars.
How does bicycling fit into your professional work?
Some people have the perception that my passion is for bike, but the truth is my passion is for people. Bikes are an important tool in connecting people.
When you ride a bike or walk, you’re more connected to your community. You’re more likely to smile and wave to a stranger; it’s easier to stop to help someone out or to visit a new store. People who bike are happier and healthier, and thus can offer greater contributions to society, their family and their friends. When people bike places instead of driving, they take up less space which creates a better environment for commerce.
My effort with the city then, as it relates to bikes, is to help facilitate an environment where more people are comfortable riding by prioritizing where funds are spent on bike-related projects, identifying funding for new projects and collaborating with many of my great co-workers in departments all across the city to come up with the best possible design and implementation strategies.
Not everybody can or will ride a bike, but the primary barriers I want to remove in the city through my work are the things that make people afraid of riding. If someone wants to ride a bike, they should be able to do so safely and comfortably. And almost as important, they shouldn’t have to think about it. We are working to connect the facilities we do have and fill in a predictable and easily navigable network so people don’t necessarily have to consult a map before and during trips across town by bike to make sure they’re not getting lost.
If you could go one place on your bike, where would you go?
I’d love to ride the Continental Divide Trail all the way through Colorado. I haven’t done any mountain biking yet, but I love climbing and I love the view from the top of a mountain so that just makes sense. (You can! Here’s some info on the entire route from the Canadian to the Mexican border.)
If you could go on a ride with one individual (historical figures are fair game), who would you ride with?
My wife. She’s started to get used to being on a bike and she’s starting to be comfortable riding around town with me, but I’d love to have her come on some longer rides with me so we could explore some of the longer recreational rides available around Denver. I’d also like to have her join me and some of my other family members when we ride 200 miles from Seattle to Portland next year.
What has been your favorite adventure while riding a bike?
It’s the little things that I enjoy most during my rides. I’ve met a fox who lives around the Highline Canal over the past couple weeks. Every day on my commute, I get a picturesque view of the downtown Denver skyscrapers set against the Front Range.
I started naming my commute home about a year ago when I record it on my Strava account. Despite more than 150 rides, I have yet to repeat a title because every ride is unique and memorable in some way. I guess that’s my favorite adventure: every day I get to experience a new adventure!
Anthony would like to note that these are his views and do not necessarily represent his employer’s views.