Tuesday, January 10

Trying to Be Friendly

League of American Cyclists style...

My town is applying for Bicycle Friendly Community status again this year. Last year it held a bronze level designation and hopes to bump that up to silver in the near future.

Arvada has a population of 108k, a land area of just over 35 square miles (which translates to a population density somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 ppl per square mile) and in the past five years has had zero car/bike fatalities and only 77 car/bike crashes.

There are 8,935 bike racks in the city; though there are not any businesses designated as Bicycle Friendly.

There are 96 miles existing and 38 miles of planned bike lanes, 55 miles of shared lane markings, 180 miles existing and 38 miles of planned signed bike routes, 116 miles existing and 17 miles of planned paved MUPs, and there are 25 miles existing and 20 miles of planned natural surface MUPs.

The City sponsors two Bike-to-Work Day breakfast stations.

Oddly, my commuting takes me instantly out of Arvada and through another town (Wheat Ridge), then an unincorporated area of the county and then through Golden, which is also a bronze level community.

Riding around town you can tell there is a difference between Arvada and other non-designated communities. Mandy and the kids work and go to school in Westminster, and to give that city credit, it seems as if they are making the attempt to be more bicycle friendly (recently put in its first new bike lane). But if you compare the existing streets in Arvada and Westminster there is a distinct difference.

Westminster is important, as is Arvada, because for major north-south routes between the Metro area and communities to the north, both are traversed. While topography plays a big role in the feasibility of north-south routes, there are some distinct connectivity issues in the entire Denver Metro area when it comes to north-south accessibility and in Westminster in particular.

Arvada could do better, but with a little research, the savvy cyclist can find a decent route up north and into Westminster. Lakewood, another bronze level community (though it doesn't compare in my estimation), lies to the south, but lacks good north-south routes as well. However, the South Platte and C470 bikeways provide good north south access on either end of the South Jeffco metro area (unincorporated Littleton).

What's interesting about the Denver Metro area (Denver proper is designated silver) in this context is that you can literally travel two blocks and see a drastic difference in municipalities and how they address the needs of cyclists. It is really a great case study on bicycle friendliness. Its the good, the bad and the ugly all rolled into one. And then of course you can take a day trip to surrounding areas like Boulder (platinum designation), Fort Collins (gold), and Colorado Springs (silver), and the above mentioned bronze level communities.

I really want to get out on the ground more in some of these communities and ride. I don't want to contrive visits, but to have real reasons to go and visit, or to pass through them. From what I have seen of Boulder, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs from behind the windshield, I can already see why they have achieved their higher recognition levels. But I want to experience those differences from behind the handlebars.

Looking forward to seeing how Arvada will fare this year...

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