Bicycle Colorado's Proactive Leadership: How Do We Get More People to Bike for Transportation?
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 considerablyaround 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?