How schools across Colorado celebrated Bike & Roll to School Day 2021

How schools across Colorado celebrated Bike & Roll to School Day 2021

Bike & Roll to School Day celebrates getting to school using active transportation—biking, walking or rolling! Getting to school this way helps children exercise, move their bodies, get to know their neighborhoods and come to school energized and refreshed. 53 schools in Colorado registered to participate in 2021. We asked some schools around the state how they celebrated Bike & Roll to School Day, and here’s what they told us.

Some of the photos below are from this year’s Bike & Roll to School Day, while others are from previous years or other Bicycle Colorado education programs.

Coordinator: Cynthia Bahler, teacher
School: Holyoke Elementary School
City: Holyoke
Student population: 300
Years participated in Bike & Roll to School Day: 7+ years

Your school has participated in Bike & Roll to School Day for multiple years. What has made you want to keep celebrating?

We have written it into our Wellness Committee agenda for yearly repeat. The event is well liked.

A row of bicycles parked on pavement in the center of the image. On the left side is a lawn and then a building.

What education or encouragement activities did your school host this year?

Holyoke Elementary closes down the blocks surrounding the football field for a group ride and dismisses classes every five minutes to join the festivities. We partner with the local Lions Club, bike shop, police department and emergency services. We read reminders on the morning announcements, put up posters around the school and promote on the radio and in the newspaper. Students are given a word search and crossword puzzle and those who participate in the group ride receive certificates.

A sign on blue paper mounted on a fence, with a yellow balloon attached on the top right of it. It reads "Bike to School Day!" and there's a drawing of a bicycle.
A group of children ride toward the camera on a street.

 

How did you ensure your activities were inclusive and that as many students as possible could help celebrate?

We provided 15 bikes for those who do not have them. We also allowed scooters or skateboards and used a cart for kids who cannot otherwise participate—this was pedaled by a teacher.

How many students participated in your activities?

More than 250 students participated.

How do you plan to continue the momentum of Bike & Roll to School Day or use what you learned as a school or community to help more kids bike/walk/roll to school?

We plan to encourage more practice of bike riding and rules for riding handled in physical education classes.

Coordinator: Eric Buxman, teacher
School: Boltz Middle School
City: Fort Collins
Student population: 600
Years participated in Bike & Roll to School Day: 4-6 years

What education or encouragement activities did your school host this year?

We celebrate a week of biking to school at Boltz Middle School. Kids who participate are rewarded with daily snacks and their names are entered into a raffle drawing held at the end of the week. Raffle prizes are donated by local bike shops.
Our week-long celebration is student-centered. Most of the organizing and daily program management is accomplished with the help of student volunteers.

How did you ensure your activities were inclusive and that as many students as possible could help celebrate?

We also reward students for walking or rolling to school. For students who live too far away to ride, we allow their parents to drop them off a few blocks from school.

How many students participated in your activities?

Historically, we have 60-75 kids participate.

A few children ride bikes toward the camera in a parking lot. There are some cones and small domes on the ground nearby.
Four children stand facing each other but turned toward the camera. They are wearing bike helmets and a couple of them have bikes. They are on a sidewalk.

Coordinator: Angie Hill, PE teacher
School: Parkview Elementary School
City: Rangely
Student population: 202
Years participated in Bike & Roll to School Day (BRTSD): 2-3 years

Your school has participated in BRTSD for multiple years. What has made you want to keep celebrating? 
This is my first year getting to participate in Bike and Roll to School Day. I love to mountain bike and would love to get more kids interested in it. I wanted to continue our school’s participation so our students continue to learn bike safety and benefits of biking.

How did you ensure your activities were inclusive and that as many students as possible could help celebrate?
I did a bicycle obstacle course around our track at our school. I made it to where students who were not comfortable doing some of the obstacles had the option to go around them. I also had several extra bikes and helmets so those students that didn’t have a bike were still able to participate with us. For my younger grades, we talked about pedestrian safety and went for a walk to the park and practiced going through crosswalks.

How many students participated in your activities?
190 students participated in my activities.

How do you plan to continue the momentum of BRTSD or use what you learned as a school or community to help more kids bike/walk/roll to school?
Next year I would like to have a unit on teaching biking skills and spend more time on the rules of the road. I would also like to get helmets donated to every student that does not have one. I was shocked at how many students did not have one this year!

A group of children stand with their arms around each other and backs to the camera. They are wearing helmets and are in a school playground.

Coordinator: Stephanie Boone, teacher
School: Jenkins Middle School
City: Colorado Springs
Student population: 800
Years participated in BRTSD: 2-3 years

Your school has participated in BRTSD for multiple years. What has made you want to keep celebrating?

This is my first year as the coordinator. We decided to do this because we felt it an important activity to teach air quality and health.

What education or encouragement activities did your school host this year?

We hosted a spirit week, showed environmental videos during 7th period and held a raffle for those who walked or biked to school.

How many students participated in your activities?

At least half of our student population.

How did your BRTSD impact students and the community? Are there any particular successes, stories or student testimonials you’d like to summarize?

Students loved it. Everyday we had more and more participants. Students walked together in groups and a sense of community was built in this year of uncertainty.

A group of children ride bikes up a sidewalk toward a school building in the background.

Coordinator: Mark Garcia, PE Teacher
School: Rocky Mountain Elementary School
City: Clifton
Student population: 430
Years participated in BRTSD: 7+ years

Your school has participated in BRTSD for multiple years. What has made you want to keep celebrating?

It’s a great way to get out there in the community and get to see our kiddos in a different environment. The students and staff really enjoy it and it’s a great way to bond with our students/community.

What education or encouragement activities did your school host this year?

We do bike/walk to school day and we also have a Walk-A-Thon.

How did you ensure your activities were inclusive and that as many students as possible could help celebrate?

We did our Walk-A-Thon during “specials” time which all students have in their schedules so that every student had a chance to participate.

How did your BRTSD impact students and the community? Are there any particular successes, stories or student testimonials you’d like to summarize?

Students enjoy walking in with teachers and telling them about their neighborhood.

A group of children pose for to the camera facing toward it and to the right. They are all wearing helmets and standing over bikes. They are in front of a building.

Thank you, educators, for sharing how your schools and communities celebrated Bike & Roll to School Day! We’re excited to see even more students, schools and communities participating next year.

Throwing a Pandemic-friendly Bike “Rodeo”

Throwing a Pandemic-friendly Bike “Rodeo”

A person taking a selfie. They are wearing a helmet, sunglasses, a tank top and they are smiling. Behind them are two children also wearing helmets and smiling. They are all on the shoulder of a road, next to a sidewalk.

This guest post was originally posted at the Denver Community Active Living Coalition blog. Amy Kenreich is a parent volunteer at Lincoln Elementary School in Denver. Amy is proud to be a crossing guard, a mobility advocate and co-chair of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. Her passion is community-building and her professional experience is in communications. She uses her sweet graphic design skills to get everyday people to find joy in active transportation.

Bike to School Day is approaching on May 5th! This event happens every year, on the first Wednesday in May. To celebrate, our DPS school Lincoln Elementary usually has a fun-filled bike rodeo complete with free bike repair, obstacles to ride over, a skills course, family bike parade, helmet decorating, rules of the road station and a slow race (the slowest rider wins). In the days and weeks after the rodeo, bike racks are filled. For a bicyclist like me, it fills my heart with joy to see the interested but concerned crowd feel empowered enough to ride to school with their kids.

Like so many favorite events, in 2020 our bike rodeo was cancelled. This spring we decided—pandemic or not—we should do something to get kids excited about riding their bikes. We came up with a Bike Remot-eo.

The idea blossomed from a suggestion from the school principal, Emily Clark, who thought it would be fun to decorate bikes and display them. We discussed the popularity of scraper bikes and one thing led to another. Before long, our crossing guards and the physical education teacher, Jennifer Gonzales, hatched a plan:

We will host a live virtual event outside on a teacher work day. Families can log on to watch staff compete against each other, working in teams and in person to decorate bikes. This Great British Baking Show-style event will be a team building experience that has been sorely missed during the pandemic. The best part is that students watching from home will be able to submit their suggestions and questions for the teacher teams in the virtual chat. It could very well be a technical disaster, but it will be worth a try!

The six bikes teachers decorate will be donated to Lucky to Ride, a non-profit that puts bikes in the hands of at-risk and disadvantaged youth.

Parent volunteers agreed to meet with our cohorts (13 of them!) and explain what’s happening:

  1. Students will donate decorating materials. The only requirement is that they are up-cycled. Some suggestions made them smile: tape, marshmallows, cardboard, dress up clothes, tin foil, candy wrappers, etc. The kids loved seeing the silly example bike.
  2. Volunteers are also encouraging students to decorate their own bike or scooter using what they have on hand at home.
  3. Students are receiving a handout with a map to plan their safe route to school. Everyone can show off their decorating work on Bike to School Day, May 5!

When a child comes home and is excited about a wild idea to decorate their bike with marshmallows and shows off the route they want to use to ride to school, their enthusiasm might just convince the adults in their lives to hop on their bikes, too!

Why all this work?

I believe that creating a culture that celebrates biking comes with community benefits such as:

  • More support for safer street infrastructure.
  • A way to meet your neighbors.
  • A way to get the wiggles out before and after school.
  • Less pollution!
  • More joy!
A hand holding a piece of paper that features a map with a route highlighted, and says "Plan your route to school!"

Biking helps the greater good, and schools are a perfect place to start. Empowering kids to ride their bikes to school just might inspire more adults to look for ways to incorporate biking into their commute, grocery run, or weekend plans. Getting out of our vehicles is contagious. Try it! Next thing you know, you’ll be planning a bike remot-eo at your local school.

Photos from 2019 Bike Rodeo

A child wearing a helmet rides down a wooden ramp over a grass field. There is an adult behind her.
A man stands behind a vertical bike repair stand. There is a van behind him that has a logo for Campus Cycles. They are next to a red brick building.
A number of helmets on a table. Children's hands are shown decorating the helmets with streamers, glitter, glue and other materials.
An adult wearing a yellow vest, a child wearing a checkered shirt, a smaller child with a pink shirt and another adult in a black sweatshirt stand facing away from the camera. They are on a sidewalk.
Bike racks by the school that are filled with children's bikes. There is a fence behind them.
A number of children with bikes and helmets stand over their bikes on paved ground. There is a cone holding a sign and balloons in the foreground.
A group of adults and children riding bikes away from the camera toward the left, on a road. The school playground is in the background.
A small children's bike decorated with brightly colored streamers and tape.

Get Spot. Get Hurt. Get Paid.

Get Spot. Get Hurt. Get Paid.

Spot Injury Insurance is a proud Business Member of Bicycle Colorado. This is a sponsored post about their on-demand injury insurance! Thank you to Spot for their generous support of bicycle advocacy.

Spot has reimagined insurance for the outdoor industry and its enthusiasts alike. Spot provides injury insurance to athletes and adventurers and was founded on the belief that breaking a bone shouldn’t break the bank. Spot is integrated across a number of partners including ski resorts, terrain parks, sports leagues, outdoor associations, registration platforms, and now Bicycle Colorado.

Spot is stoked to partner with Bicycle Colorado to offer members injury insurance specifically designed for cyclists. As a member, you now have the opportunity to purchase Spot and get up to $25k of coverage towards medical bills each time you’re injured riding a bike – be it training, touring, commuting, etc., on or off road (sanctioned racing is not covered). For injuries big and small, Spot’s got your back.

For just a one time payment of $51, Bicycle Colorado members can now purchase Spot Injury Insurance for coverage from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021. If you get injured while riding a bike, your Spot policy can cover your out-of-pocket medical costs up to $25,000 with no deductible, whether you have health insurance or not. For injuries big and small, Spot’s got your back – so get in the saddle with peace of mind. Visit bicyclecolorado.getspot.com to learn more.

Guest Post: Safe Routes to School in the time of COVID

Guest Post: Safe Routes to School in the time of COVID

This guest post is written by Amy Thompson, the Boulder Valley School District’s Safe Routes to School Co-Coordinator.

The Boulder Valley School District (BVSD), like all other school districts across the state and the nation, is having an unprecedented start to the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While BVSD kicked off the year on August 26th with 100% home learning, our district, like every other school district, has had the Herculean task of planning operations for each of the five stages of our return to in-person learning.

One of the biggest hurdles to plan for during each proposed phase is student transportation. There are limitations on how many students we can put on a bus while maintaining appropriate physical distancing. After extensive research, collaborating with other school districts, and consulting with public health and national transportation advisors, one trend is clear: biking and walking are some of the safest modes of transportation to limit the spread of the virus.

Armed with that information, our BVSD Safe Routes to School team, housed in the BVSD Transportation Department, brainstormed lots of ideas for kids to use active transportation during the various phases of learning during Covid-19. Read on for a few of the ideas we’re putting into practice now.

Keeping kids active during home learning

Starting the school year with our 30,000+ students at home meant we didn’t have to immediately worry about how our students would get to our school buildings. We still wanted to provide resources to families to get their kids outside and moving as an antidote to all of the screen time involved in online instruction.

Movámonos! Let’s Get Moving! Rewarding kids for exercise at home

The BVSD has a long-established program called Trip Tracker, which rewards kids for using active transportation, like biking and walking, to school.

In a normal year, students earn Trip Tracker Dollars by reporting all of their active transportation trips to school via a monthly Google survey. Students then receive Trip Tracker Dollars that they can spend like cash at local businesses or donate to a list of local nonprofits. In fact, this past spring, students donated over $13,000 to local charities!

During home learning, we decided to launch a new twist to the program called “Movámanos! Let’s Get Moving!” where students will be able to earn Trip Tracker dollars for up to two 30-minute periods of exercise, per school day. As students return to in-person learning in the school buildings, they will once again earn Trip Tracker Dollars for using active transportation to and from school. The response from families has been overwhelmingly positive:

“Thanks for doing this! This kind of motivation will help keep my boys moving.”

“We have decided to bike to school and back home each morning before school to help wake-up our brains for the day.”

A new kind of garden is popping up around our district

Over the past few weeks, a team of BVSD bus drivers has installed 2-D “pop-up” traffic gardens at several BVSD school playgrounds and basketball courts. Made with spray chalk and stencils, these temporary traffic gardens look like a miniature world of streets for children to navigate. Each traffic garden features 4-foot travel lanes and various elements they may encounter on their way to school, such as stop signs, crosswalks, one-ways and roundabouts.

The idea is to provide a safe space for kids to practice bicycle and pedestrian skills while encouraging kids to venture outside and get some fresh air. Growing up understanding how to utilize streets and infrastructure is an important skill for children to gain independence as they get older and start to travel to school on their own.

Encouraging families to choose active transportation when we return to schools

As our district looks ahead to bringing back students to in-person learning, an enormous concern is that families will opt to drive their kids to school. We have had to come up with strategies to flatten the curve of anticipated traffic congestion and tailpipe pollution at our front doors. The capacity of our buses is limited by physical distancing requirements and families naturally hesitate to put their kids on a bus during a pandemic.

We needed to find ways to support families that had never before considered the original forms of socially distant transportation to school, walking and bicycling. In addition to the BVSD Tracker encouragement program, we have assembled the following tools for families:

Travel Maps

Working with a CU graduate student and City of Boulder intern, we designed travel maps for schools that highlight recommended biking and walking routes to school along with featuring infrastructure elements such as crosswalks, signaled intersections, pedestrian flashing lights, underpasses and more. We have found that presenting safe route information visually resonates more powerfully with parents than the written word.

The Three Block Challenge

For families who live too far to reasonably bike or walk all the way to school, we are encouraging them to take The Three Block Challenge, that is, park about ¼ mile from school and walk or bike the rest of the way. The idea is to keep traffic danger and pollution away from the front doors of our schools while encouraging families to reap the brain and body benefits of getting a little exercise before school.

Crossing Guards

As a complement to our biking and walking encouragement, we put together a toolkit for school staff and volunteers who want to quickly assemble a crossing guard program. We stocked up on orange vests and stop-sign paddles and created an online resource to get volunteers trained and monitoring crosswalks ASAP. We have found adult presence is key to easing parents’ concerns about letting their children walk and bike to school.

During this pandemic, we have been compelled to look at school operations in a new way. As we move through the various phases of bringing students back to the classroom, we hope that the resources and encouragement put in place now will inspire families to make permanent changes to how they look at school transportation and in the long run embrace the benefits of walking and bicycling to school.

Thank you to Amy Thompson and the Boulder Valley School District for helping children and families stay active during this unusual school year.

If you like this post, please join as a member or donate to support our work to make bicycling in Colorado better for everyone—of all ages.

What bicycling means to Carlos

What bicycling means to Carlos

Carlos Carrillo Garcia is a 7th-grader in Montbello and a 2019 student of Bicycle Colorado’s Montbello Bike Club, where he explored the area’s parks by bike, learned safe on-street and trail riding skills and practiced basic bike mechanics. This summer, he received a bike ramp built by Henry Stelloh, another middle-schooler and fellow bike enthusiast. We chatted with Carlos about the ramp, biking and the sweet bike tricks he wants to learn.

Do you remember learning to ride a bike? What was it like?
I learned when I was 5 years old. It was fun. I was kind of scared in the beginning because I would fall. I felt pretty happy and excited when I could ride without falling.

What do you like about riding bikes?
It’s just relaxing. Sometimes I use it to get around or to show off.

What have you been doing during quarantine? Do you ride your bike more now?
I ride more.

Where do you ride your bike usually?
I usually ride my bike in front of my house or I go to stores to buy stuff on my bike.

Do you bike with your family?
Yeah. Sometimes to a park.

How did you feel when you found out you were getting the bike ramp?
I was pretty excited because my friend used to have one but now he doesn’t and I always liked using the ramp, so I was pretty excited.

Any cool tricks you’ve been practicing?
I know how to do some tricks but on the ramp I’m scared to do some. I am practicing a pro hop. It’s when you lift both of the wheels off and jump high.

Do your friends ride bikes? Have you connected with them more while riding?
I basically just play with a lot of people who ride bikes, too. When we do tricks, we try to help each other learn more and our relationship gets better.

I am the one who fixes their bikes. I learned to fix bikes with my dad and [Bicycle Colorado’s Education Program Coordinator] Chris Winn. They showed me, and I watched videos. It’s sometimes hard because there’s some things I haven’t learned and when I try to watch videos it’s hard to understand. I’d rather watch people do it and do it hands on.

What do you like about fixing bikes?
It’s relaxing and I get to see different types of bikes.

Anything you want to learn?
I am still trying to learn a 360, but it’s difficult. I need to learn to true the wheels and lacing the wheels (putting the spokes in them).

Has the ramp helped you get more confident on a bike?
It has. Before I would be scared to fall, but now I got big scrapes and I’m not scared anymore.

About the bike ramp

Henry Stelloh has been building and selling bike ramps for other kids to enjoy during these times cooped up at home. Henry, who lives in northeast Denver, started his business, Ramp It Up, because he wanted to earn money for a new mountain bike and raise money for COVID-19 relief.

Your membership makes education programs like Montbello Bike Club possible. 

Join or renew today and help us teach even more kids and adults about biking safely in Colorado.

Everything you need to know about riding your bike during the COVID outbreak

Everything you need to know about riding your bike during the COVID outbreak

This article will be updated regularly with more resources and information.

If you have resources you’d like to share, or if you are in need of support in your community, please send an email to Jack Todd, Senior Communications and Policy Manager, at jack@bicyclecolorado.org.

Jump to: 

Updated 7-21-2020

During this very difficult moment in time, we’ve been thinking a lot about our 28 years spent fighting for safer and more accessible riding at Bicycle Colorado. Like most organizations, our work has changed over the past few weeks⁠—we are developing contingency plans and exploring ways to be good partners and neighbors during this ever-changing crisis.

We have also been thinking a lot about how lucky we are to live in a place that is so conducive to riding our bikes. With our amazing climate, stunning scenery and a culture that values and encourages taking advantage of the outdoors, it can be easy to take the opportunities that bicycling offers for granted.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has injected an air of the unknown into our society of late, it’s also served as a reminder for us of the many benefits of bicycling. Bicycling connects people, it improves our health and the health of our neighbors, it reduces our stress levels in times of uncertainty like our current moment, and it allows us to see the world in new and unexpected ways. 

Bikes make communities more resilient in the face of the unexpected. 

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to develop and change the way we work, educate and interact with our friends, family and coworkers, it’s our hope that you’ll continue to get out and ride your bikes to make your community as resilient as possible. But we also hope you’ll do so safely and with your fellow community members in mind. 

As a disclaimer, we are not medical professionals at Bicycle Colorado. The content below is inspired by conversations we’ve had with members of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), doctors for USA Cycling, statements from the Governor’s Office and Colorado Department of Tourism, bike shop owners and employees, other individuals and extensive research. 

Here’s what we’ve learned, and what we think you should know, about riding your bike during the COVID outbreak


Let’s start with the basics of the virus

COVID-19 is a new strain of the coronavirus for which there is no known cure or vaccine at this time. It’s likely that most of us have had some form of the coronavirus at some time in our lives—it typically presents as a common cold with minor respiratory symptoms. Like many viruses, COVID-19 is spread through contact and “droplet transmission,” and research indicates that it can survive as long as three days on plastic, glass or metal surfaces.  

What makes COVID-19 unique?
  • While most coronavirus strains present with mild symptoms, COVID-19 can lead to far more severe symptoms in some individuals, and especially in older adults and those with underlying immune conditions (take diabetics, for example).The most common symptoms are fever and dry cough. Very few people with COVID-19 will have a runny or stuffy nose. 
  • No one is known to be immune to this strain of the virus at this time.
  • It has a long asymptomatic period, usually around 5 days but up to 12 days, where individuals who have come into contact with the virus are unaware they may have it, show no symptoms and still be contagious. 
  • It is highly contagious if steps aren’t taken to prevent its transmission. While individuals with illnesses like the flu are expected to infect an average of 1.3 other individuals (this is called the Reproduction Number, or r-naught), people carrying COVID-19 are expected to infect 2.2-2.5 others unless steps are taken to mitigate the spread.
  • The virus attaches to cells in the lungs, heart and intestines, but it is most severe in lung cells and can lead to pneumonia in even mild cases.

There are simple steps that everyone can take to make sure they are not spreading the virus, or contracting it themselves. If you’ve heard the term “social distancing” lately, and it’s a safe bet that you have, this is what it’s all about (please note, this list is not exhaustive, but it’s a good starting place): 

  • Reports suggest the virus may be able to spread in the air. Best practice is to wear masks in public to protect yourself and others.
  • Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds after touching any surfaces you don’t know to be sterile. Our friends at the League of American Bicyclists recommend singing this song while washing your hands to keep track of time. 
    • Hand sanitizer also works well but, as this article from VOX shows, “soap is dope” when it comes to eliminating viruses.
  • Don’t touch your face unless you know you have clean hands! 
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue (and then throw that tissue in the trash) or your elbow or shoulder. 
  • If your employer allows, work from home to avoid unnecessary interaction with other individuals.
  • Avoid public areas as much as possible.
    • Keep at least a 6 foot distance from others when out in public areas.
  • Stay home if you think you’re sick or starting to feel sick. 
  • Avoid unnecessary travel.
  • Do your best not to interact with people who have had—or even may have had—contact with others who may be contaminated. As a general rule, unless you know a person very well (and know where they’ve been and who they’ve been in touch with over the past 14 days), it’s in your best interest not to risk spending time with them right now. Hello, video chat! This is what social distancing is all about, and it’s not just for you: when you take steps to social distance, you are also protecting the older adults and other at-risk individuals you interact with and care about. 

You can find CDPHE’s official COVID-19 recommendations here. One note that stands out in particular is the following (emphasis added): 

“Recognize signs of stress in yourself. Identify what you are afraid of. Figure out if what you fear is something that you can address right now. If not, know what activities help you release energy from stress and fear, such as physical activity, listening to music, or talking with someone you trust. Do something that puts you in a positive mood.” 

At times like these, it’s important to remember that taking care of our mental health is as important as taking care of our physical health. 

So, what does this have to do with riding a bike? 

As Governor Polis recently noted, riding your bike is a great way to stay healthy—physically and mentally—while living in a socially-distanced world. Health experts from around the country strike the same tone, and citizens have been taking advantage of the benefits around the country. 

In a USA Cycling conference call with bicyclists and bicycling event organizers on March 17, 2020, Dr. Michael Roshon noted that riding bikes also carries little risk of contamination or infection. For bicyclists, Roshon notes that you are very unlikely to contract COVID-19 while riding outside, and especially not while riding by yourself. His recommendations include: 

  • First and foremost: if you think you’ve been exposed, self-quarantine. Including being outdoors. Do not ride outside. 
  • Maintain a minimum of six feet of distance when riding around others.
    • Do not go for group rides with people who live outside of your household. Only ride with people you are already staying at home with and, when passing someone else on the road or trail, leave as much space as you can to ensure you are adhering to social distancing best practices. 
  • If you are going for a bike ride, ride from your place of residence.
    • Governor Polis issued new guidance on May 25 that allows Coloradans to “Travel to within their local community or as necessary to access outdoor recreation areas.” The amendment continues, “If travelling outside their community, Coloradans are urged to honor all restrictions in place at their destination and avoid travel to counties or municipalities that issue travel restrictions.” This means that you may put your bike on your car to go for a ride elsewhere, but at Bicycle Colorado we still encourage you to ride from your place of residence whenever possible to limit spread to or outside of your community. 
  • Wear a mask, buff or other face covering while riding to protect yourself and others, regardless of your age and health.
  • Practice good hand hygiene at all times.
  • Get your sleep! Your immune system is stronger when you practice healthy sleep habits. Roshon recommends 8-9 hours.
  • Eat healthily. Now is not the time to fast; fasting hinders your immune system. 
  • Exercise!
    • But keep in mind that it’s important not to overdo it. When you push yourself too hard, you can limit your immune system’s response to a virus.  
  • Do not spit or snot-rocket on rides or around other people walking or biking. Carrying a kerchief or bandana in your pocket is a good alternative that will mitigate the risk of any spread. 
    • If you have to do so and don’t have bandana or kerchief, make sure no one else is around you. Check out this article from Bicycling Magazine which dives deeper into the topic. 
  • If you’re in a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home area that prohibits you from riding your bike, it’s important to heed those rules and stay home. Don’t put yourself or your loved ones at risk because you want to go for a ride. For a list of communities with shelter-in-place orders, scroll down to the “What We’re Hearing” section. 
  • Finally, don’t ride risky. This is an especially bad time to be in a bike crash. You don’t want to go to the hospital right now, and doctors don’t want to see you unless they need to, so taking reasonable precautions while riding is especially important right now.

The prevailing wisdom at this point of the COVID-19 outbreak is that this is likely to last a few months at least. Many organized rides have been postponed or canceled all together, with additional decisions still to be made by local communities and events. We will keep our Events Calendar up-to-date with any information we hear.  

Interested in taking your bike commuting to the next level?
Check out our recent post on bike commuting!

And what about getting my bike fixed or repaired?

Now that bike repair is considered an essential service in Colorado’s statewide stay-at-home order, you can still support your local bike shop by visiting for fixes and repairs. If and when you visit a bike shop, it’s incredibly important that you take precautions not to endanger bike shop employees. If you plan to visit a bike shop, do so only when necessary and make sure you are taking all steps to keep yourself and shop employees from catching the virus, including all the steps listed above.

Additionally, many of the bike shops we have spoken with have taken quick steps and precautions that have changed the way they are doing business. Many shops are services bikes by appointment only, and some are diagnosing mechanical problems over the phone before customers can bring their bikes to the shop. 

It is best to call your local bike shop ahead of your visit to ensure that they are open and ready to take your bike in for service.

Additional precautions that we’ve heard bike shops are taking include:

  • Diagnosing as  many problems as possible over the phone or by having customers text a photo of their bike to the shop and providing a service quote over the phone or text.
  • Having people wait outside of the shop if they are checking in a bike, especially when customers bring kids (one shop told us, “Normally it’s great that kids touch everything when they’re in the shop, just not right now”).
  • Spraying every bike that comes in with isopropyl alcohol to ensure it is sanitary, but asking customers to bring clean bikes to the shop.
  • Limit number of people in the shop.
  • Limiting retail service to bike purchases only (not accessories).

At any time, and especially during the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s important to listen to your bike mechanics and ensure you’re keeping them safe. If you are allowed in a shop, make sure you are still practicing social distancing best practices when inside. If you aren’t allowed in shop, please respect your mechanics’ wishes and the precautions they are taking. Also recognize the extra times that these precautions take. The bike shops we’ve heard from so far are as busy as they’ve ever been ensuring that you can ride safely. Add to that the time it takes to clean and sanitize the bikes and tools, and you’ve got some hard-working mechanics. Be sure to give them an extra thanks! 

We hope you’ll go out and support your local bike shop when necessary. If you can throw an extra tip in for your mechanics when you visit, we’re sure they’d appreciate that, too!

What we’ve heard from local riding clubs, organizations, events and local governments

Here are links to what we’ve heard from local clubs, organizations, events and local governements about how COVID-19 is impacting their work. If you want to share additional announcements, please send an email to Jack at jack@bicyclecolorado.org.  

Events and Event Organizers

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many rides and races of 2020 have been canceled, postponed or switched to a virtual format. See below for updates on event cancelations and scheduling changes.

Still on for original date (keep an eye out for updates!)

Virtual

Postponed

Canceled

** Indicates a Champion Event Member of Bicycle Colorado

Fort Collins
Other Resources

What to do if you are sick

The following is taken directly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website

Steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick

Follow the steps below: If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might have it, follow the steps below to help protect other people in your home and community.

Stay home except to get medical care
  • Stay home: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Do not leave, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
  • Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you feel worse or you think it is an emergency.
  • Avoid public transportation: Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
Separate yourself from other people in your home, this is known as home isolation
  • Stay away from others: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific “sick room” and away from other people in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • Limit contact with pets & animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.
  • Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people with the virus limit contact with animals until more information is known.
  • When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick with COVID-19. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them. See COVID-19 and Animals for more information.
Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Call ahead: If you have a medical appointment, call your doctor’s office or emergency department, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.
  • Wear a facemask if you are sick
  • If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.
  • If you are caring for others: If the person who is sick is not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live in the home should stay in a different room. When caregivers enter the room of the sick person, they should wear a facemask. Visitors, other than caregivers, are not recommended.
Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Cover: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Dispose: Throw used tissues in a lined trash can.
  • Wash hands: Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Clean your hands often
  • Wash hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
  • Soap and water: Soap and water are the best option, especially if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Do not share: Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home.
  • Wash thoroughly after use: After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water or put in the dishwasher.
Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday

Clean high-touch surfaces in your isolation area (“sick room” and bathroom) every day; let a caregiver clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in other areas of the home.

  • Clean and disinfect: Routinely clean high-touch surfaces in your “sick room” and bathroom. Let someone else clean and disinfect surfaces in common areas, but not your bedroom and bathroom.
    • If a caregiver or other person needs to clean and disinfect a sick person’s bedroom or bathroom, they should do so on an as-needed basis. The caregiver/other person should wear a mask and wait as long as possible after the sick person has used the bathroom.

High-touch surfaces include phones, remote controls, counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.

  • Clean and disinfect areas that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
  • Household cleaners and disinfectants: Clean the area or item with soap and water or another detergent if it is dirty. Then, use a household disinfectant.
    • Be sure to follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Many products recommend keeping the surface wet for several minutes to ensure germs are killed. Many also recommend precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
      • Most EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. A full list of disinfectants can be found here.
Monitor your symptoms
  • Seek medical attention, but call first: Seek medical care right away if your illness is worsening (for example, if you have difficulty breathing).
    • Call your doctor before going in: Before going to the doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them your symptoms. They will tell you what to do.
  • Wear a facemask: If possible, put on a facemask before you enter the building. If you can’t put on a facemask, try to keep a safe distance from other people (at least 6 feet away). This will help protect the people in the office or waiting room.
  • Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department: Your local health authorities will give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.
  • Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the operator that you have or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before medical help arrives.
How to discontinue home isolation
  • People with COVID-19 who have stayed home (home isolated) can stop home isolation under the following conditions:
    • If you will not have a test to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:
      • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use medicine that reduces fevers)

AND

      • other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)

AND

      • at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared
    • If you will be tested to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:
      • You no longer have a fever (without the use medicine that reduces fevers)

AND

      • other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)

AND

      • you received two negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart. Your doctor will follow CDC guidelines.
  • In all cases, follow the guidance of your healthcare provider and local health department. The decision to stop home isolation should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider and state and local health departments. Local decisions depend on local circumstances.
  • More information is available here.

In short, Bicycle Colorado recommends:

  1. First and foremost, follow all expert public health advice to help keep fellow Coloradans safe during this pandemic.
  2. Ride a bike! As long as your community doesn’t have a “shelter-in-place” restriction, get out there with your family or for solo rides! 
  3. Stay positive and healthy. Together, we’ll come out of this pandemic stronger. Bikes will help.

Thank you for all of your support of Bicycle Colorado. We appreciate you. 

Your membership makes resources like this possible

Join or renew today.

Buddy Insurance has your back

Buddy Insurance has your back

Buddy Insurance is a proud Business Member of Bicycle Colorado. This is a sponsored post about their on-demand accident insurance that is perfect for adventurers and athletes! Thank you to Buddy Insurance for their generous support of bicycle advocacy.

Bicycle Colorado Business Member Buddy Insurance provides the first and only on-demand accident insurance to adventurers and athletes. Their mission is simple: to help people fearlessly enjoy an active and outdoor lifestyle.

“Buddy is super excited to be partnering with Bicycle Colorado. Both of our organizational missions of advocating for and protecting people who bike go hand in hand and we are looking forward to helping Colorado bicyclists in any way that we can,” says James Paul, Buddy’s Co-Founder and Head of Business Development.

Buddy Insurance has been growing and learning in the past year, and has just launched Version 2.0 of their on-demand accident insurance. This insurance pays benefits directly to customers for injuries requiring medical treatment. The new coverage no longer distinguishes between competitive and recreational bicyclists. This means that whether you race or are a casual rider, cost of coverage will be the same. They have also restructured their coverage to pay additional benefits for fractures and dislocations.

With pricing under $10 a day, this is a great choice for adventurers and athletes looking for a little extra protection just in case.

It’s super simple to get the coverage you may need:

  1. Sign up at buddyinsurance.com. Decide who (you, your family, or just the kids) you want to be covered and for how long, from a day to the whole year. Once you’re signed up, you’re protected anywhere in the world.
  2. If you get hurt while you’re covered, get treatment! Once you’ve taken care of your body, file a claim within 30 days of going to the ER, hospital, or urgent care. You’ll just need to tell Buddy what happened and send your documentation from the doctor.
  3. Once your claim is handled, benefits are paid directly to you. That means you decide how you want to use the money.

Check out Buddy’s recent announcement here to learn about their new insurance updates and get signed up.

Bicycle Colorado Business Members like Buddy Insurance help us strengthen the movement of people who love riding bikes, help increase bicycle tourism and create jobs and vitality in our state. We’re so thankful for their support.

Want to become a Business Member or an Individual Member and support our work, too? Visit our Membership page!

What the 2020 legislative session meant for bicyclists

What the 2020 legislative session meant for bicyclists

The 2020 legislative session will surely go down as one of the most unusual sessions in Colorado’s history, and certainly in our history advocating for better bicycling at Bicycle Colorado. 

The session began on January 8 and was scheduled to run for the constitutionally-mandated 120 days until May 6, but that schedule was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 14, after being given the okay by the Colorado Supreme Court, the legislature officially went on hiatus in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus. 

When the legislative session resumed on May 25, the top priority for the remaining days was to get a balanced budget bill to the Governor’s desk by June 1 before tackling other remaining legislation that had been put on hold. Many legislators were asked to remove their own bills from consideration (including one that we had been working on—more on that below), resulting in a smaller load of bills for consideration in the final days of the session. 

Following the return of the legislature, Americans witnessed the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis. When protests about Mr. Floyd’s death reached the Colorado Capitol, legislators responded quickly with Senate Bill 217—the police accountability bill—which passed with bipartisan support. Shortly after, the legislature closed its doors for the year on June 15. 

This session, we worked primarily to support two pieces of legislation aimed to protect bicyclists, and responded quickly to amend a bill that would have put bicyclists at extreme risk without changes. Read on for more information about each bill we worked on, where the bill ended up, and where we plan to go from here.

Senate Bill 20-061: The Bike Lane Bill

Bill sponsors: Senator Mike Foote; Speaker of the House K.C. Becker

Status: Signed into law by Governor Polis on March 20, taking effect on July 1, 2020. You can read the signed act here.

What the act does: SB 061 defines a bike lane in Colorado law for the first time, and establishes that bicyclists have the right-of-way in all circumstances when using a bike lane. It requires that drivers not drive in, idle in, or otherwise block the bike lane. Drivers or others who block the bike lane may be subject to a fine of $70 and 3 points of their license if caught blocking the bike lane, similar to other parking enforcement efforts around the state. 

If a vehicle is blocking the bike lane and is the cause of bodily injury to a bicyclist, the driver of that vehicle is subject to charges of careless driving because of this law. In this case, drivers may lose as many as four points from their license. 

“Bicycle lane” means a portion of the roadway that has been designated by striping, signage, or pavement markings for the exclusive use of bicyclists and other authorized users of bicycle lanes. “Bicycle lane” includes an intersection if the bicycle lane is marked on opposite sides of the intersection”

Colorado Revised Statutes 42-1-102(10.3)

Bicycle Colorado’s Grassroots Advocacy Manager Molly McKinley
testifies on the Bike Lane Bill on February 20, 2020

The legislative process: The bill was heard by the Judiciary Committee in each chamber of the Colorado legislature. In the Senate Judiciary the bill passed by a vote of 3-2 before passing on the Senate floor with bipartisan support. In the House Judiciary the bill passed by a vote of 7-2 before receiving the support of nearly two thirds of the full chamber. 

Senate Bill 20-065: The Handsfree Bill

Bill Sponsors: Senator Chris Hansen; Representative Dylan Roberts 

Status: Withdrawn from consideration by Representative Roberts due to the COVID-19 crisis. You can read the most up-to-date bill text here

What the bill does: The bill sought to reduce distracted driving on Colorado roads by requiring the use of “handsfree” devices such as headsets or Bluetooth in order to use a cell phone or other electronic device behind the wheel of an automobile. 

It would have added fines and drivers found to have been using a mobile electronic device behind the wheel would have also been subject to having points removed from their licenses had the bill passed. 

The legislative process: The bill successfully passed through: 

  • the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee by a bipartisan and unanimous vote of 5-0
  • the Senate Appropriations Committee by a bipartisan vote of 9-1
  • the Senate floor by a bipartisan vote of 25-9-1

Following the COVID-19-caused legislative hiatus, the bill was withdrawn from consideration by bill sponsor Representative Roberts. It was “postponed indefinitely” by the House Transportation & Local Government Committee on May 27 by a bipartisan vote of 11-0

Next steps: As we noted in our statement on social justice in bike advocacy, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others at the hands of police have made clear to us that enforcement-based legislative strategies put communities of color at risk of profiling and escalated interactions with police officers. 

We know we must to pursue strategies that don’t involve officer-initiated policing to achieve our goals of safer roadways for everyone who uses them. We are actively discussing alternatives to how we approach distracted driving. Alternatives include: 

  • broadening where automated enforcement technologies can be implemented—these technologies don’t require a physical police presence to discourage dangerous behavior
  • network-level distracted driving legislation that would require cell phone providers to shut off phones when their operators are known to be driving

Until now we have made calculated decisions to support policies to protect bicyclists by means of enforcement on drivers. Traffic violence is a public health epidemic, we know that, but we cannot ignore the epidemic of police brutality on people of color as we seek to support our cause. We will continue to fight for policies that improve roadway safety while doing everything in our power to ensure communities of color, bicyclists or not, aren’t subject to more—and escalated—interactions with police because of our actions as advocates.

Bicycle Colorado’s statement on social justice in bike advocacy.

These are two alternatives to handsfree legislation, but not the only ones. We have reached out to the bill sponsors to understand their thinking moving forward, and will keep our members and supporters informed as these conversations progress. 

Representative Dylan Roberts chats with constituents  about bike safety at our
Safe Streets Day at the Capitol event on January 23, 2020

House Bill 20-1178: The Speed Bill

Bill Sponsors: Senator Jerry Sonnenberg; Representative Richard Holtorf 

Status: Signed into law by Governor Polis on March 27. You can read the signed act here.

What the act does: This act requires the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to conduct a study of rural highways and make recommendations of highways where they could raise the speed limit “without endangering public safety.” 

The legislative process: At Bicycle Colorado, we believe any hike in speed limits presents a danger to public safety. When we first heard about HB 1178, we knew we needed to act to ensure that bicyclists and other vulnerable road users were considered in any study that raises speed limits, so we worked to draft an amendment to do so. Prior to our efforts, the bill mandated that CDOT consider the following when conducting this study and recommending highways for speed hikes: 

  • Whether the portion of highway is predominantly straight 
  • The quality of the surface portion of the highway, including whether the portion of highway has been resurfaced recently
  • The presence of absence of adequate spacing along both sides of the portion of highway to allow a vehicle to safely pull over to the side of the highway
  • Any other safety concerns that the department, in its discretion, includes in the report

There were no guarantees that bicyclists would be considered in this study, and we ensured they would be by asking bill sponsor Senator Sonnenberg to mandate that “the safety of vulnerable road users who use the portion of highway” be considered in any study as well. 

Bicyclists from around the globe flock to Colorado for our scenic rural road riding. Our safety must be considered in any conversation involving those rural roadways discussed in this bill. The bill passed the House Transportation & Local Government by a vote of 11-0, the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee by a vote of 5-0, and both chambers of the legislature with bipartisan support before making its way to the Governor.  

Next steps: We plan to work with legislators and CDOT officials to ensure that bicyclists have a seat at the table when discussing raising speed limits on rural highways and elsewhere. We support efforts to reduce speed limits around the state like those recently approved in Boulder, and will continue to prioritize speed-calming efforts moving forward.

While the legislature has wrapped up its work for 2020, our policy team continues to work with state agencies and local communities to improve safety and accessibility for bicyclists across Colorado. We look forward to returning to the Capitol in 2021 with fresh ideas about how we improve roadway safety and protect people who ride bikes for recreation and transportation, by choice or by necessity. 

If you want to be involved in shaping our legislative work moving forward, join or renew as a member of Bicycle Colorado today and reach out to Senior Communications and Policy Manager Jack Todd to get involved in the conversation. You can reach Jack at jack@bicyclecolorado.org.

Social justice in bike advocacy

Social justice in bike advocacy

Over the past several weeks, like so many others, the Bicycle Colorado team has been struggling to comprehend the senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black Americans made possible by structural racism in our society. Their deaths at the hands of police officers and neighbors are horrific and unacceptable. The public outcry that has followed—seeking justice, accountability, and reforms so that communities of color can live without the fear of violence—will be a defining moment for our country that we hope catalyzes change we desperately need. 

Black people in the United States of America have a lived experience shaped by racial discrimination and prejudice. Black lives matter, and we are committed to combating racism in all that we do at Bicycle Colorado. This is a problem that our team and all Americans must own and resolve together.

Neither Mr. Floyd’s, Ms. Taylor’s nor Mr. Arbery’s death involved a bicycle, but their murders do relate to what we do at Bicycle Colorado. Our work to create safe biking for all Coloradans is more than a bike issue—it’s an issue of social justice. That’s clearer now than ever, and we want to share three reflections that will impact our work moving forward so that we are actively practicing anti-racism and serving all Coloradans.

First and foremost, we have learned the definition of “safe places to ride” we have been using hasn’t gone far enough. Up to this point, improving safety for bicyclists has largely entailed addressing the threat motor vehicles pose to vulnerable road users. But safety includes threats that individuals pose to one another, too, and that surfaces in different ways for different people with different lived experiences. Many Black and Brown Coloradans feel unsafe riding a bike due to the very real threat of profiling from community members and excessive police force that stem from deeply rooted racism in our law enforcement, judicial systems and society at large. 

Second, until now we have made calculated decisions to support policies to protect bicyclists by means of enforcement on drivers. Traffic violence is a public health epidemic, we know that, but we cannot ignore the epidemic of police brutality on people of color as we seek to support our cause. We will continue to fight for policies that improve roadway safety while doing everything in our power to ensure communities of color, bicyclists or not, aren’t subject to more—and escalated—interactions with police because of our actions as advocates. 

Third, in advocating and securing funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure and other traffic safety improvements, we can and must do more to ensure that these projects are implemented equitably and incorporate community members in the decision-making process. Too often, this funding fails to benefit or reach communities of color. Unless infrastructure projects are distributed equitably and with input from those who stand to be impacted by changes the most, we aren’t truly creating equitable conditions for bicyclists. 

We must do better, beginning with this statement and going far, far beyond it. Acknowledging the importance of equity is not enough; we must actively work toward it.  

In November of 2018 we published a Strategic Plan, and included in that plan was our public commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Today, we not only reaffirm this commitment, we pledge to do more to make bicycling in Colorado truly equitable. We ask you to join us as we continue to learn, grow and take action to eliminate racism. 

We will be hosting two equity-focused webinars, open to the public, with members of our RIDE Advisory Board on June 25 at 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. that we hope you will attend. We will share more details about the specific steps we will take to address racism and advance equity during these sessions. You can register for either for free by clicking the links above

Finally, we wanted to share some readings that have informed our conversations as a staff: 

Thank you for your continued support. 

The Bicycle Colorado Team

How do we get more people to bike for transportation? Proactive leadership.

How do we get more people to bike for transportation? Proactive leadership.

The 2020 bike boom could have a more lasting impact on cities around the world than the 1970s bike boom had on America. But only if planners and politicians—and people—clamor for this change.

Carlton Reid

Forbes

As the COVID-19 crisis intensified in the United States, many residents in Colorado began teleworking, and stay-at-home orders further kept people at home. Coloradans are avoiding most travel to their workplaces, restaurants, friends’ houses and other everyday destinations. Consequently, automobile traffic has reduced considerably around the state. More folks are taking to their own neighborhoods by bike or foot for fresh air and recreation.

With fewer people traveling on our roads via car, it’s easier than ever to see how space has been prioritized for driving at the expense of other transportation modes and how single-occupancy vehicle travel has affected society. While the circumstances that got us here are tragic, the current quieter roads provide us with a vision for how streets can change to become people-friendly. Streets that offer more choices for how to get around benefit every type of bike rider in Colorado—whether you are a mountain biker riding to a trailhead, a father biking to a park with his kids, a recreational road rider on a weekend jaunt or someone who already commutes regularly by bike—and make our communities more resilient in the process.

What are we learning? With these changes, we’re better able to see how Colorado communities benefit when people ride bikes more and drive a little less. Fewer single-occupancy motor vehicle trips means more road space is available and fewer pollutants are emitted into the air. It also means that people get exercise, have a more efficient method of running daily errands, get more fresh air and can more safely ride with family. When elected leaders prioritize strong biking and walking policy and funding, they can create communities that are safe places for families to ride. And that’s the ultimate test of whether a place is serving all of its biking, walking and rolling residents. We can all play our part in making healthier choices for our communities and ourselves—from one individual to elected and business leaders—so that imagining a Colorado where driving isn’t the first choice to get around becomes easier and easier.

Biking, walking and rolling need priority attention now so that people have attractive alternatives to driving. In Colorado, we’re fortunate to have so much potential for better bike, pedestrian and transit infrastructure in communities of all kinds around the state. Many people do have to drive long distances or have a disability that makes other modes of transportation a no-go. Transit options can be limited or non-existent, especially in rural areas. So, how do we allow for folks who need to drive to do so, while ensuring that our public spaces are distributed equitably for all people who bike, walk or roll, too?

What cities and towns can do

Providing access to sustainable and efficient transportation options benefits all people regardless of need. This means making sure that all residents have access to transportation choices that work for them, whether they bike, walk, roll or have to drive. We think now is the time for cities to reset their transportation policies to achieve a better balance. This work is part of ensuring that we are supporting everyone’s needs through this crisis and beyond. Basing access to work, food and other necessities on driving leaves out large portions of our population who can’t or simply choose not to drive for the reasons we’ve talked about above and in other articles. Prioritizing driving also means that vulnerable families and children continue to have unsafe neighborhoods in which to play and travel. Some obvious opportunities exist to layer policy and investments that create an inviting environment for people who already bike, want to bike more or just want to be able to get around safely.

Policy examples that create safer road environments include lowering speed limits and prioritizing people on foot and on bikes at intersections with uniform No Turn on Red regulations. These supports continue the flow of vehicle traffic while acknowledging that the driving public needs to allow more vulnerable road users—those outside a two-ton vehicle—the time and space they need to move safely in public space.

Ultimately, the balance must be shifted. Take a look at the graphic to the right, which illustrates the amount of space that’s dedicated toward motor traffic in cities and the amount left over for people who aren’t in cars. It’s paltry. Now that streets are much quieter, it’s obvious to a lot of folks that people on bikes and on foot are relegated to the literal sidelines. This is true every day, but especially in this time of COVID-19, people are being pushed dangerously close together. Cities around the country—including Denver—have seen the potential for opening up streets in neighborhoods and parks so that bicyclists and pedestrians can spread out on their daily bike rides and walks or when they are running errands. 

Denver has made a great start, and has been lauded for taking the steps it has, but we think more can still be done, including opening up more streets and continuing to do so once life returns to some semblance of normalcy. And we think that applies to other Colorado communities as well, which haven’t followed Denver’s lead at the time of this publication. When space usually allocated exclusively to motor traffic is opened to bicycle and foot traffic, more people have the space to be outside safely. This will continue to be true once the COVID-19 crisis has subsided.

These opened spaces must function in conjunction with safer traffic on other streets in order for bicyclists and pedestrians to have broad access. Drivers naturally are more cautious and slow on streets lined with trees, bicycle lanes and wider sidewalks, curb bump-outs and narrower lanes. More roads can be designed or retrofitted with these traffic-calming measures along with lowered speed limits. These measures will help people in cars drive at the appropriate speed for what’s happening on the street and sidewalks, and encourage drivers to look for people crossing so they have time to stop. People who are driving will risk a smaller chance of crashing, and might find that other modes of transportation are just as—and likely more—joyful. Moving more slowly through a space also can help travelers notice local restaurants, shops and other businesses they might visit.

While signage indicating lower speed limits and police enforcement will not create the sustained or equitable change that is necessary, it can indicate that a community is prioritizing safe streets. Overall, though, we need infrastructure.

What individuals can do

Simultaneously, people can choose to ride their bike or walk more. Even small changes to one’s routine can make a big difference. Like we mentioned earlier, some trips are more challenging than others to take without a car, due to distance, a disability or some other factor. However, people are generally not actually driving that far. About 46% of all trips taken in a private vehicle (car, SUV, motorcycle, other motor vehicles) are three miles or shorter in length (source: National Household Travel Survey 2017). A trip of this length takes around 15-30 minutes by bicycle.

Sum of percentage of trips taken that were 3, 2, 1 mile(s) or less than 0.5 miles is 45.6%.

There is clearly a high potential for more trips being shifted to bicycling, walking and transit. Individuals can choose to travel by bike or foot instead of driving to a nearby destination, which can take a bit of initial getting-used-to but is healthy, environmentally friendly, and safer for other road users. In our article on using a bike for transportation, we get into how you can start using your bike to get to a lot of different everyday places. This mode shift will keep more cars off the road and allow space for those who must drive to do so on traffic-calmed roads with less collective negative impact on air quality and crash rates.

When you drive anywhere in your gas-powered car, whether you’re going to a restaurant two miles away or your office 20 miles away, your vehicle is producing pollutants. Bicycling can be an excellent transportation option that doesn’t produce pollutants and is highly efficient. The fossil fuels that motor vehicles must use to function aren’t renewable, but the food we eat that powers our bicycling is! If you’re driving, combine your car trips for multiple errands, so you’re not making several individual trips. The Regional Air Quality Council in the Front Range has some more tips here. Drivers should follow posted speed limit signs and avoid distractions so they can pay attention to what’s around them.

Mobility advocates and environmental advocates—including us at Bicycle Colorado—must keep pushing local government, city planners and traffic engineers to support and encourage non-motorized transportation options and to ensure safe travel at reasonable speeds on our roads. We also need to engage with the communities most affected by poor air quality and injuries due to crashes to understand their needs and work with them to find impactful local solutions.

What elected officials can do

Communities are stronger when there is a diversity of transportation options. It’s never been more important for government officials to listen to their constituents who need safer routes and access.

Bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users deserve safe travel spaces and timely, convenient transit options. The solution to congestion and higher rates of injury and death is not to build wider roads and add more lanes, which leads to induced demand, it is to encourage people to take other modes of transportation and to create infrastructure that will naturally slow down traffic. Pay attention to research and the needs of the many, not the allure of speed and convenience.

In a state that is prized for its fresh air and sunlight, elected leaders need to be bold in instituting measures that will preserve and maintain these qualities and make Colorado an even healthier and safer place for all people, not just for folks who are driving. Leaders of larger and denser communities across the state: take inspiration from cities like Milan and Paris, which are taking permanent steps now to make their cities stronger by making them more bike- and pedestrian-friendly.

There is no reason we can’t do that here.

What businesses can do

We also want to put out a call to businesses and business leaders. Make your storefronts more accessible and friendly to bicyclists and pedestrians. Have bike racks available, and make sure your business signage is visible near your street-facing door and not just above the awning where only people driving by can see it. Make space for and encourage your own employees to commute by bike or by foot.

Bicycling provides a boost to muscles, cardiovascular health and mood, as we’ve covered in our articles on bicycling and physical and mental health. Employees who commute by active transportation like bicycling can save your business money in health insurance costs and worker’s compensation claims. With less stress from being stuck in congestion, your bicycling employees might feel happier coming in to work and might also make it in faster since they won’t be sitting in gridlock.

With more employees biking, you’ll have smaller maintenance costs on your car parking lot and may be able to get away with having fewer of those spots in the first place, since bicycles take up much less space. Provide incentives for employees to arrive on their bikes, on scooters or by foot, make sure bike racks are easily available, and make sure your employees have space to change and store clothing. There are a ton of fantastic resources out there on why you should be a bike-friendly business and how you can support and encourage your employees who ride.

What does this all mean?

Changes so extensive need motivated leaders at all levels, but they should be considered no-brainers. More Coloradans using active transportation like bicycling takes cars off of the road (reducing crash rates, congestion and poor air quality), frees up street and parking lot space, and provides people with a way to get exercise and transportation safely distanced from one another.

Bicycling is hands-down the healthiest, most efficient and most environmentally-friendly mode of transportation for short trips, be it for commuting, errands or recreation. In the face of congestion, high injury and death rates from car crashes, poor air quality, sedentary lifestyles and the fear and anxiety in these times of COVID-19, bicycling is the best solution.

Appendix and resources

The way our roads are being used right now is an indicator of what we can change to find this balance between allowing drivers who must drive to do so and prioritizing bicyclists and pedestrians as vulnerable road users and necessary to the fabric of a community.

People are still driving on our roads, but fewer are doing so to commute. People are driving to get to everyday places like the grocery store or parks, and some are driving just for fun. During this crisis, the roads that they’re traveling on are suddenly quite empty, with fewer cars and other road users to navigate around. This means that drivers are moving faster and getting into more crashes.

This is happening because roads take up much of the public space, and many have wide lanes, spread-out signals, few pedestrian crossings and little-to-no built-in traffic calming measures. Additionally, speed limits are often set high enough for motorists to drive comfortably and without stopping at many red lights, but such speeds can be dangerous for pedestrians. A speed increase of just five or 10 miles drastically increases a vulnerable road user’s likelihood of death in a crash.

When there’s more congestion, drivers are forced to travel more slowly. Many folks spend chunks of their workdays stuck in heavy traffic on highways and major local roads. Congestion is not, however, a good solution to slowing down cars so that other road users can take up space, too. It leads to frustration among drivers, roads that are sometimes harder to navigate for bicyclists and pedestrians, and poorer air quality with cars spending more time running or idling on the road.

Actually installing traffic calming-infrastructure is the solution, as well as encouraging and teaching people about the benefits of using active transportation or transit. Speed limits can be set lower without significantly impacting travel time in many cases. In fact, according to the World Resources Institute, “research from Grenoble, France has shown that a speed limit of 30 kmph (18.64 mph) rather than 50 kmph (31 mph) only added 18 seconds of travel time between intersections 1 km (.62 miles) apart.” Data from Denver also shows that removing a traffic lane and replacing it with a bike lane and a bus lane along Broadway only added 9 seconds to travel times over a 2.5-mile stretch.

Adding a bicycle lane is cheaper than adding a highway lane by far, especially if one takes into account the savings in road maintenance and health effects of better air quality. Adding new highway lanes can cost between $2 and $10 million per lane-mile, while building a new large surface street can cost about $750,000 per lane-mile. On the other hand, the cost of adding a bike lane is $5,000-50,000 per lane mile. In fact, a study by Portland State University’s Transportation Research and Education Center in Oregon found that bicycle lanes and infrastructure can even positively impact the local economy in that area as measured through sales and employment.

Prioritizing active transportation over motor traffic can also be a major part of the solution to Colorado’s air quality problems, especially in the Front Range. The notorious ozone problem in Colorado is exacerbated by volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide released by automobiles and other sources. The ground-level ozone that is formed by the interaction of these materials with sunlight can cause breathing difficulties, trigger attacks of respiratory conditions like asthma or COPD and generally degrades the fresh air that people think of when they think of “Colorado.” Now that there are fewer folks driving in Colorado, air quality has noticeably improved.

Colorado’s air quality could remain as good as it is lately but only with some work on all our parts to continue driving less. In the Denver metro area for example, city leaders want to see more people continuing to telework because keeping these cars off the roads could help boost air quality along the Front Range. For those of us who can’t telework, it is imperative that many of us shift to using active transportation and transit to get to workplaces and other everyday destinations.

In Denver, the Denver Streets Partnership is pushing for the Shared and Open Streets to be continued throughout the summer. They see that the need for social distancing won’t be over for a while, and people deserve to be treated with dignity and given priority over single-occupancy motor traffic. Communities across Colorado are encouraged to see how public space and attention can be reallocated more equitably toward vulnerable road users. Bicycle Colorado and the Denver Streets Partnership are excited to work with advocates and leaders around the state.

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The 2021 Unurbanist Assembly coming up on June 6/18 is a 23-hr virtual event dedicated to confronting the legacy of… https://t.co/gyIDRY0EKq

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  • DON’T DELAY: We’re placing another order for #BicycleColorado masks made by our friends at @primalwear TOMORROW (5/14) at noon! Click the link in our bio to get yours now!
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We’re thrilled to see so many people out enjoying (and often rediscovering the joy of) riding a bike right now, and we’re asking ALL bicyclists to do their part to prevent the spread of #covid19 by wearing a mask or other face covering when out for a ride. Doing so keeps you, your loved ones, those around you, and all Coloradans safer while helping reduce stress on our medical system. If you still need a mask, click the link in our bio to pre-order one now and support our advocacy work! Thanks so much to everyone who has already purchased, and to @primalwear for supporting our efforts over the years. Ride on.
  • #BicycleColorado volunteers and staff members spent time today helping @denverurbangardens and @denverfoodrescue deliver “Grow a Garden” food boxes to home-bound families in Denver—via bike! Supporting our community on two wheels makes for a great way to spend a sunny day. Many thanks to our friends @ddchen47, David M., and @juggernautcargo for your help! Head to denverfoodrescue.org or dug.org to learn more about these great local organizations. #rideyourbike
  • Tonight the #BicycleColorado team celebrated Stacey, our outgoing Development Director, with a virtual happy hour. Stacey has been an absolute rockstar for BC. We’re sad to see her leave, but thrilled for her as she heads out on a new adventure (hopefully in the #BikeAdvocacy space!) in North Carolina. Please join us in wishing her well!