June is Walk and Bike Month when people are encouraged to use alternative modes of transportation.
Throughout the month, events are being held in Denver and Boulder including community walks, bike shows, bicycle art tours and much more. On Bike and Walk to Work Day (June 26) KGNU’s Boulder studio is hosting its own breakfast and bike station from 6:30 to 9:00 a.m.
Bike and Walk to Work month aims to show people that bicycling can be a part of your everyday commute, not just a recreational activity. However, the car-centric infrastructure of Boulder and most cities make it difficult for residents to pursue alternative modes of transportation. This is an issue that Boulder’s Community Cycles is working to address.
“Protected bike lanes are the thing we need to get people of all ages and abilities out on bicycles,” said Sue Prant, executive director of Community Cycles. “I just spent two weeks in the Netherlands and wherever you go there’s protected bike lanes so the number of people bicycling far exceeds the number of people driving cars.”
The number of protected bike lanes in Boulder has increased over the last year. Current Community Cycles projects include a protected bike lane on 30th Street that is waiting on funding.
While protected bike lanes are becoming more common in Boulder, most of that innovation has occurred in newly built suburbs. This poses an accessibility problem as most major streets still lack accommodation for bicycles.
“The land-use does not connect where this new development is to where people actually need to go,” said Prant. “No matter how bicycle-friendly you make your little neighborhood out in the middle of suburbia, it’s not a viable option for people to use a bike much because most trips are outside of your neighborhood.”
The issue of accommodation also extends into economics. Because of high housing prices in Boulder, many people who work or study in Boulder are forced to live elsewhere, commuting long distances every day to get to work or school.
Also, with public transportation being very bike-unfriendly, it makes it even harder for these commuters to utilize alternative modes of transportation.
“We still have 60,000 people driving in so that’s what’s creating the traffic, that’s creating the conflicts with bicycles and pedestrians,” said Prant. “If we were able to at least accommodate some of those people coming into the city with places for them to live affordably in Boulder, then we would have less infill traffic.”
Despite the accommodation issues, progress in alternative modes of transportation is still being made. Much of this progress is happening within new electronic bikes and scooters.
Electronic bikes and scooters being utilized by towns has helped to break down one barrier of public transportation by giving residents a quick and convenient way to travel the first/final mile from their home/destination to public transport systems.
“I see a lot more people who may not have been your tradition utilitarian cyclist using bicycles and especially e-bikes,” said Prant. “I do believe that things are getting better and we’re getting there but our vision is for bicycling to be a fully accepted equal mode and to be fully safe.”
KGNU will continue to host conversations about alternative modes of transportation in Boulder for the remainder of June.
For a complete list of Walk and Bike Month activities taking place in June visit walkandbikemonth.org or biketoworkday.us for events taking place outside of the Boulder community. For more information about Community Cycles visit communitycycles.org.