Report From Boulder, CO: A City That “Gets It”

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Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson, Jr. just returned from Boulder, Colorado — recent recipient of the League of American Bicyclists’ Platinum award for bike-friendliness. He writes:

Boulder "gets it" big time — bicycling is important to its residents.
So is a healthy walking and green living environment. But please note:
this is not a car-free utopia — the vast majority of residents own
cars. The difference here is there are many safe and convenient options
available (transit, walk, bike, etc.) and its denizens can choose the
way they want to go.

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Inter-modal transportation is highly encouraged,
there are many types of bus passes available, and the city is
constantly looking to the next way to improve their streets.

Streetfilms will soon be posting videos from the visit. In the meantime, here’s more from Clarence.  

  • Shemp

    This is good stuff. Any sense, Clarence, that any of it is translating into the greater Denver/front range metro area. Or is Boulder an island of dudes and cleaner living?

  • Nathan

    The buses with bike racks seem like a good idea, and they are in some cities. I used to use the racks when I lived in Albany. But I don’ think we should go calling for them on NYC buses. It’s great that we can bring them on the subways, and I think (with the exception of buses that cross bridges) biking is in all cases faster than taking the bus.

  • Shemp:

    Good question. In general Boulder is above and beyond all the surrounding cities and Denver. However, it sounds as if some good things are going on in Denver AND they are about to introduce Bus Rapid Transit in one corridor that will directly connect Boulder and Denver. That is great news and probably take lots of cars off the road.

    Nathan:

    I agree with some of what you said – anywhere there is good subway access, you don’t really need bike racks. BUT in many areas of outer Queens, Bronx and Brooklyn not well served by subways, we should have bike racks on buses which would greatly increase the amount of inter-modal travel there I bet. AND I think EVERY bus in Staten Island should have racks.

  • jmc

    the problem is that it woudl increase loading times on already-crowded buses in the outer boroughs, and therefore increase transit time. If I were to come up with a bike priority in the NY area, i’d want more secure parking at the outer borough subway stations…

  • Actually JMC the folks I talked with indicate that at least in Boulder, the loading time for bikes does not impact the trip at all (it took me seconds to get my bike on and watched others do it rapidly)

    Cyclists are very familiar with the simple process and if there are two or three people at a stop and a person waiting to load a bike here is what you see: bus pulls up, cyclist loads their bike, usually by the time those other people are done paying the cyclist walks right into the bus behind them. The time it takes is negligible or non-existent.

    In Portland and other cities I have watched the same happen. It is one of the myths that stop some cities from considering adding bike racks to buses. We’ll show it in action in our Streetfilm.

    But I do agree, secure parking at outer borough bus and subway places is sorely needed and would help get inter-modal trips be more common.

  • do they allow cars in their parks?

  • Andy B from Jersey

    All Rutgers’ buses have racks and ALL of NJ Transit’s short route urban buses will have them soon with the new bus order for the North Jersey fleet (Yeah!) But none of the coach buses have them and the luggage bays underneath tend to fill up, bumping out the bikes (Booo!)

    Busy stops are ideal for loading a bike onto the rack. Since there are so many people boarding, the cyclist has plenty of time to load up the bike as the other passengers load onto the bus first. But this can suck for the cyclist since all the seats get taken by the time he/she gets on.

  • Wouldn’t bikes get stolen fro those front racks all of the time?

  • a.v.

    I’ve spent a decent amount of time in Boulder — my wife grew up there. They have done lots of things right when it comes to non-car transportation. But the most important thing is that they preserved a belt of open space surrounding the city decades ago. This has served to contain sprawl and has led to progressive land-use policies within Boulder (though not outside of it, as rush hour on US36 will attest). It’s also had the effect of driving up property values, which has led to higher density development and provided tax revenue that can be spent on things like fancy bike paths.

  • Re: Nathan #2, I disagree. We need bike racks on buses in NYC. There are many bus routes (particularly outside of midtown and downtown Manhattan) that are not duplicated by a subway line, and buses there become particularly important for mixed-mode commuting. Also, there are circumstances where your bike may break down, and a bus may prove your only way of getting home.

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