Mo McCanna

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!

Kids ride through the community "bike rodeo" at Prairie Park.
Kids ride through a community “bike rodeo” at Prairie Park.

The city’s efforts

Colonel Hart promotes bike safety, delivering helmets to children riding without them.
Corporal Hart promotes bike safety, delivering helmets to children riding without them.

“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.

Elementary students eagerly participate in a safety lesson.
Elementary students eagerly participate in a safety lesson.

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.

Outside Sterling Bicycle Works, a bike sculpture and a mural painted for Pedal the Plains 2014 and 2015.
Outside Sterling Bicycle Works, a bike sculpture and a mural painted for Pedal the Plains 2014 and 2015.

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, right, monitors the bike rodeo, ensuring kids are having fun and staying safe!

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 for more information. The grant application deadline is Friday, December 2.

Mo McCanna

About the Author: Mo McCanna

Maureen (Mo) coordinates Bicycle Colorado’s Bike School, Safe Routes to School programs and education to encourage sustainable travel choices. She is passionate about working with kids and active transportation for its positive environmental, health and community impacts. Mo enjoys seeing live music and taking in great scenery, commuting and exploring the city by bike.


Rob Nichols - Reply

We’re a slightly undiscovered biking area with many great riding loops and not much traffic. More an more of the pieces are in place for a great escape including upcoming hotels and Northeastern Colorado’s only brewry opening in December. Checkout Parts & Labor Brewing Company’s Facebook page !

    Mo McCanna - Reply

    Thanks for your comment, Rob! Yes, we look forward to seeing Sterling’s biking options and popularity among bicyclists continue to grow. We’ll have to stop into Parts & Labor if BC is able to fit in another trip to Sterling this spring!

Lori - Reply

Now if we could get the goat head stickers under control, we would be in even better shape. Any one in sterling knows what a pain and how man flat tires you get from these. Not to mention how painful they are to step on.


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