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Boulder Goes Bike Platinum

Add Boulder, Colorado to the League of American Bicyclists' cities to achieve Platinum Bike Status. This Fall, they were bestowed the nation's highest rank for U.S. cities and joined Portland, Oregon and Davis, California as the only three cities to have that honor.

I spent five days on a bike in Boulder in October and can testify it is close to bicycling nirvana. The resulting Streetfilm is only a taste of what is going on in the bike culture universe. You'll get to sample what its like to ride some of their amazing bike amenities including its wonderful greenway system with its emphasis on continuity and an uninterrupted commute.

Having produced Streetfilms on all three Platinum bike cities, one thing that is beginning to emerge as a sure tell tale sign you got a healthy biking city: the numbers of youngsters riding bicycles. Boulder has numerous programs to encourage kids to walk and bike and we were lucky enough to include two of them here. Don't miss our Boulder Streetfilms series as well as our long-form pieces on Davis and Portland.

[music]
Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [0:17] Streetfilms in Boulder, Colorado. [musical interlude]
Tim Blumenthal: [0:31] I'm excited about Boulder getting platinum, because the reason that bikes belong this year is because we've always felt that Boulder was one of the most innovative and simply one of the best bicycling cities in North America.
Crystal Gray: [0:43] Who wouldn't want to get out and ride their bike and walk? That really is the basis for Boulder's commitment. We have a beautiful environment. People want to be mobile. It's an active community and it's really reflected in our budget and our policies.
Marni Ratzel: [0:58] The city of Boulder has 381 miles of bikeways. That includes on street bike lanes, the contra flow bike lane, designated bike routes that are signed, along with bikeable shoulders, and over 111 miles of multi-use paths, both soft surface and concrete paths.
Martha Roskowski: [1:19] If a bicycling system is really going to work you have to be able to reach any destination by bicycle, so we've been systematically chipping away, trying to make progress at that, both through building good bicycling infrastructure but also trying to make smart decisions about how cars operate in this community.
Sue Prant: [1:36] One of the great things about Boulder is the really little details are paid attention to for the cyclist. Many of the curb cuts are really well done. So when the traffic goes through there'll be a little spot for the bicyclist to go through. It just makes bicycling this pleasurable, seamless experience.
Martha Roskowski: [1:52] Today Boulder has a great network of greenway paths, which are along Boulder Creek and the seven tributaries to Boulder Creek, big, wide, multi-use pathways. We have 74 underpasses on that system.
Gary Lacy: [2:06] Broadway is an example of many of similar type trail underpasses that make this system so unique, which is continuity, never having to cross a bridge.
Chris Jones: [2:16] Because I live right off one of our main greenways, I have a three mile bike ride to the office and I don't stop moving from the moment I leave my house to the moment I arrive at the office. There are no red lights. There are no stop signs.
Gary Lacy: [2:29] None of this is done easily. I think you have to be tenacious. You have to have the long-term vision always in mind. [musical interlude]
Will Toor: [2:41] Here we are standing in downtown Boulder under Pearl Street Mall. If you were to go back,40 years, right now we'd be about to get run over by a truck because we'd be standing in the middle of the street. The city, in the 1970's, the community really made the decision that if we were going to be able to compete as a community that our downtown could not feel like a shopping mall, that the downtown had to have the character of a true downtown.
Tim Blumenthal: [3:06] It starts with prioritizing bicycling in planning. It's making it central. It's not an addon. It's not an afterthought. The fact that the bike paths get ploughed first in the morning, that's a symbol.
Martha Roskowski: [3:21] To me it is incredibly important to live in a place where I don't have to drive my car all the time, where I can get to work by foot, by bike, by bus. To me that contributes hugely to a strong quality of life. [musical interlude]
Myriah Conroy: [3:41] I mean, I have a lot of kids riding bikes to school with the Freiker program. Regina Bock: Freiker means Frequent Biker. And it encouraged kids to ride bikes to school. How it works is the kids ride under this meter in the morning before school, and they hear a ding and they get counted. The computer chip is on their helmet, so we encourage kids to have to ride with a helmet. On an average day we have about 50 to 60 kids and we have about 100 kids signed up for Freiker. Last year if they rode 90 percent of the days, they got an iPod or a digital camera. We gave away 15 of those big prizes.
Myriah Conroy: [4:21] When kids learn how to ride bikes in school, they tend to carry that the whole way through and it makes it that they can be independent more quickly, and it's fun and they get good exercise. [horn beeping]
Jim Kornish: [4:35] It's called Safe Routes to School. We congregate at a certain location, leave pretty much the same time every Wednesday, and we're doing it one day a week to kind of get the kids into the spirit. The goal is to do it every school day.
Speaker: [4:46] Yeah.
Speaker: [4:46] So it's really been tremendous and the kids enjoy it and I think parents get quality time with their kids riding or walking them to school. It's been fantastic.
Kent Cruger: [4:53] We actually have 160 students this year so far who have biked or walked, gotten out of their car every single day to school. The cool thing is that kids are changing parents' habits. So there's kids who, in the morning the parents say, "Let's hop in the car," and the kid says, "I'm not getting in the car." When you get a little exercise before school, your brain is ready, your body is ready to go. So we're thinking that we're going to see not just results in kids' happiness and their health and their lifestyles, but also that it actually will impact how kids do in school. [musical interlude]
Matt Kolb: [5:29] We are Pedal to Properties. We're a full-service real estate company located here in beautiful Boulder, Colorado, and we put our focus on trying to get our clients out of our cars more and onto bikes. It's a great way to see properties here in Boulder, a great way to experience the town, and just to get to know that neighborhood a little bit more. [5:45] We actually have about 48 bikes with the company now and 36 of those bikes are always at hotels here in town. We give them to the hotels to keep onsite just for their guests to be able to ride around Boulder no charge. The project has really been successful. Just in the last two months we've had 36 bikes ridden over 550 times.

[musical interlude]

Sue Prant: [6:09] Walk and Bike Month is a communitywide celebration of biking and walking. And we have over 50 events from how to ride for kids and rodeos, to mountain bike rides, road rides, and at the end of the month we do Bike to Work Day. This year Bike to Work Day had 7,500 people registered, which is about 10 percent of the population of Boulder. We had over 100 businesses participating, either serving free breakfast or giving away prizes, and also giving substantial amount of funding to support the effort.
Karli Gronholm: [6:40] Owning a store in Boulder rocks. There's no question about it. It is one of the most fun cycling towns ever. People in this community love to ride. They love the new cool stuff, they love the old vintage stuff. They love to find bikes at garage sales and bring them in and say, "I found this really cool thing and I want to, like, totally fix it up."
Rich Points: [7:00] We're a non-profit bike coop here in Boulder, Colorado, and what we do is collect bikes, and we use those bikes to teach bike mechanics. So we have what's called an Earn a Bike Program where you spend 15 hours here helping out, learning about bike mechanics and you earn a bike. Accessories include cargo rack, a bell, a bottle cage, a kick stand, fenders, the idea is being as we want to make it as convenient, we want to break down any barriers to cycling that we can.
Karli Gronholm: [7:24] Definitely love to support community cycles. As a matter of fact we had a pretty good-sized fundraiser here last night. Raised a pretty good amount of money and awareness and got some really cool ideas to hopefully implement in the next few years here in Boulder. [musical interlude]
Martha Roskowski: [7:46] Our goal is to get more people out on bikes, to appreciate all the great facilities we have and to really just celebrate what a great place Boulder is for walking and biking.
Myriah Conroy: [7:56] To me the best think about bicycling in Boulder are the bike paths and just the connectivity all across town. You can get anywhere with my kid on the back of the bike.
Rich Points: [8:04] I went to the dentist today and it was 99 percent bike path for me to get there.
Speaker: [8:09] Biking in Boulder has been great. I haven't taken a car to work in over 19 years.
Marni Ratzel: [8:15] I love the public process that we have in Boulder. I think it always creates a better outcome for any community-based project that we're trying to move forward with. Sue Prant: [8:26] It's so great to think the government can innovate. That they don't always have to be the stallers that are just preventing new ideas from happening, that there are places where government is really forward thinking. That's certainly driven by the people who want a government that's forward thinking.

Martha Roskowski: [8:41] You know, we're tremendously pleased and honored, and yet it's very clear to all of us in the city that we're not done yet. We have a really high percentage of people riding bikes in Boulder compared to other US cities, but compared to places in Europe we're nowhere near where we could be.

Tim Blumenthal: [8:58] What everybody who's working on transportation here, they all believe that even though Boulder is platinum, there's something else out there even higher and we're going to keep working towards that. [musical interlude]
Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [9:12] Oh. Well, here I am at the top of one of the peaks that surround Boulder because, as you know, here at Streetfilms we always shoot all of our videos using our two feet, bicycling, mass transit, human power. So I've biked almost 1,400 feet just to get these lovely shots of the Rocky Mountains. Enjoy.


Clarence Eckerson, Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/grenavitar Fritz

    Living in Bordeaux, France now with pretty nice (far from perfect) biking facilities I haven't felt too envious of U.S. facilities for a while (although bike coops are a different manner... they just don't exist in the same way here). This video makes me wish our bike networks here didn't have tons of patches in it where you're thrown into traffic or where cars day-in-and-day-out park halfway in the bike lane. Congrats Boulder.

    Great video... I really like the longer ones :)

  • Ed Pino

    Love the full length feature! Lets go New York we have a long way to go.
    Thanks
    Ed

  • http://bklyn74.blogspot.com bklyn74

    Totally awesome though I would have liked to have seen some footage from January or February w/ some significant snow on the ground.

  • Jarrett Mullen

    I'm really jealous.

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/zaneselvans Zane Selvans

    Thank GOD I'm moving back to Boulder. LA can stew in its cesspool of asphalt and exhaust without me.

  • Chris in Sacremento

    Clarence, that was one of your best videos-- comprehensive, upbeat...just the right amount of looniness ;-).

    Impressions: 1) For a city of that size, that's a whole bunch of people doing green transportation planning and promotion; 2) The thoroughness with which they have minimized at-grade intersections of paths and roadways is stunning (and strikes the curmudgeon within as not easily replicated in less wealthy or progressive communities); 3) I wonder how helpful cultural homogeneity is in making change such as this.

  • let the sunshine in

    Love, love this! I hope NYC DOT can implement continuous bike paths where possible. I know it is a tough thing to put in everywhere, but it looks like it really pays dividends down the road.

  • Paula Roberts

    Beautiful film, and wonderful subject. I would love to leave Atlanta for Boulder!

  • Steven

    This is great to see. Never been to Boulder, just Davis, which was absolutely amazing on a bike.

    I live in "Bike Friendly Silver" Cary, NC. I've ridden in a dozen cities, and rode from Mass. to San Fran this summer, and I've got to say, to designate Cary as "Bike Friendly" is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. It's easily one of the least bike-friendly places I've ever ridden in.

    It makes me sick.

    As someone without a car, who commutes an average of 40 miles a week, I think The League needs to RAISE THEIR STANDARDS. I could go on forever, but I won't. Maybe I'll just move to Boulder instead.

    Or Amsterdam.

  • Todd A

    Great video. Thanks for highlighting our great city! Most of the buses around town have bike racks that can greatly extend your biking range and the boulder creek path system is brilliant. The video shows a typical weekend or "rush hour". often times it can even more crowded than that.

    bklyn74: because of the low humidity and sunshine, snow typically doesn't stay on the ground for more than a day or two. and yes they do plow the bike lanes first here.

    Props to Clarence. However you missed the Thursday Night Cruiser ride.

  • http://cruiserride.com bradkevans

    why doesn't it surprise me that you totally left out of your film the Boulder Cruzers? what a major flub up... oh, yea, biking is only supposed to be serious... totally forgot... last summer they had 1800+ riders on a thursday night... this tradition is more than 10 years in the running and you totally skipped it... dumb

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/trorb Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    Since we have had two comments in a row on the Cruiser Ride, I was dying to cover it having seen videos of it before I came out, but the timeframe I had in Boulder only allowed me to A) come Fri AM thru Wed PM, and B) the week I was there was the start of what I was told was the off season for the ride anyway. But alas, that is what is good, can't cover all the great bicycling stuff in one city in just one visit as a one person crew.

  • Tim Burford

    Great job, Boulder! But there's an awful lot of people wearing helmets on offroad trails - what's that about?
    What's it like in the winter? The trails remind me a lot of Anchorage - but of course those are only cycleable half the year.

  • http://www.longboardcapital.com Brett Conrad

    I left Boulder after 18 years there of bicycling, and now live in Santa Monica (the beach town surrounded by LA). I am going to make sure Santa Monica planners get to see this, as we have a better climate here for cycling, but have few bicycle friendly features (the beach path is nice, but not practical for most commuting).

    Great short feature here, also for anyone reading this, go see the movie FUEL.

    Integrated transportation is key to our future.

  • Err404

    Flash version 9,0 or greater is required

    Why Flash ?
    really need?

    Why not any another documented and standard file format? like Ogg ?

  • Err404
  • Tim Tebow

    insane