Sterling says yes to becoming a bike-friendly city
One of the many perks of being on Bicycle Colorado’s education team is the opportunity to travel the state beyond the Front Range. Don’t get me wrong, the Front Range is wonderful, but other parts of Colorado have equally beautiful places and lovely people, especially when those people are fans of biking.
The small town of Sterling, located beyond the Denver metro area, may seem like an unlikely place for a bike movement, but it is happening!
The city’s efforts
“When the City of Sterling updated the Parks and Recreation Master Plan in 2013, pedestrian walking and biking paths were a high priority for citizens,” says Wade Gandee, Sterling’s Director of Parks, Library and Recreation. City Manager Don Saling and other officials also value this infrastructure and participated in Bike to School Day last spring.
In September, the Bicycle Colorado education team witnessed the city’s progress when we taught pedestrian and bike safety and skills at Ayers Elementary School, Campbell Elementary School and Sterling Middle School.
Our visit, plus 24 bikes to be distributed to these schools through Elevation Cycles, are part of the city’s Safe Routes to School grant awarded by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) that aims to get more kids walking and biking to school safely. In addition to the grant, two other major projects include a path connecting the schools and a loop around Sterling for which the city recently acquired land.
Sterling sights and stops
As we tooled around town on our bikes, my coworkers and I were excited by Sterling’s potential as a bike city with wide streets, manageable downtown traffic and the proximity of popular businesses and activities. We rode to local restaurants, the bowling alley, a softball game and, of course, to the bike shop.
Sterling Bicycle Works opened this year as the city’s first bike shop in 15 years. Owner Kory Stumpf explained that prior to his store, bikes were taken to Fort Morgan or sadly went unfixed. The storefront features beautiful bike art, more of which can be found at nearby Columbine Park.
Encouraging the community
Our week ended with a community event where kids rode a skills course, or “bike rodeo,” using their own bikes and helmets or those provided by Bicycle Colorado. Wade and his Parks, Library and Recreation colleagues were very pleased with a turnout of more than 60 kids, and hope to host another event prior to the official Bike to School Day in the spring.
Wade says the the community is enthusiastic about Sterling’s progress and its plans. Campbell physical education teacher Judy Beardsley says her students can’t wait to incorporate biking into the curriculum.
If you know of a community, school district or city looking to increase active transportation to schools, consider CDOT’s Safe Routes to School grant and write a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The grant application deadline is Friday, December 2.