By Marc Howe
Colorado hopes to become America’s “best state for biking” with the launch of a $100 million scheme to foster the usage of pedal-powered transportation via heavy investment in cycling infrastructure.
States Governor John Hickenlooper unveiled the ambitious public-private project to spend in excess of $100 million over the next four years on encouraging bike usage while at the Interbike convention in Las Vegas — North America’s largest annual trade event for the bike industry.
Hickenlooper pointed to the economic as well as environmental benefits that improved programs and infrastructure for bicycling could bring to Colorado.
“Biking can be such a positive force, and I think being the best biking state is going to fuel economic growth and tourism,” said Hickenlooper. “It’s going to lead us toward a cleaner environment, and it’s going to help us be the healthiest state in America.”
The Colorado Pedals Project will enable local communities to exercise greater say over their own transit schemes — whether that includes, cycling, walking, or motorised transportation.
Initial missions for the project will include documenting all the trails in the state of Colorado, whether natural, paved, or dedicated to bicycle usage, as well as as a marketing campaign to bolster support for the program locally. Furthermore, the campaign will promote the state’s new cycling infrastructure and the improved access to the natural environment it provides to tourists from elsewhere.
The plan outlines as much as $60 million in spending on bike and pedestrian infrastructure, to be funded by the Colorado Department of Transportation, the federal government’s Transportation Alternatives Program, and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.
A further $30 million will be provided courtesy of the Great Outdoors Colorado initiative and its drive to improve the connectivity of outdoor trails, while roughly $10 million will be spent on the maintenance and expansion of Colorado’s Safe Routes to School program.
Hickenlooper pointed to Denmark as an outstanding example of successful investment in cycling infrastructure. Over half of all Danes commute to work via bicycle, while a quarter of all transportation outlays in the capital of Copenhagen are directed at cycling infrastructure.
“Denmark clearly shows the benefits of making these long-term investments within narrow, achievable plans,” Hickenlooper said. “[Denmark] creates bicycle-friendly communities and infrastructure that far outweighs the costs.”