DENVER — The public works department here rolled out its 100th mile of bike lane in the city on Thursday, just one week after the League of American Bicyclists named Colorado the second most bike friendly state in the nation.
The new lane is on Water Street between the Downtown Aquarium and the Speer Boulevard Viaduct. It is part of the city's broader plan to build upon its bicycling infrastructure, as it did this summer with the installation of the green, dedicated bike lane along 15th Street downtown.
Denver was honored for its efforts with a silver award from the League of American Bicyclists, which is a 133-year-old Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. Each year, through a voluntary application process, the group ranks states, cities and businesses on how conducive they are to cyclists.
"Bicycle policy, planning and projects have become a priority across various city agencies and among city leadership," the League of American Bicyclists wrote. "This includes hiring a dedicated bicycle planner; revising bicycle-related laws; establishing bicycle parking requirements into the zoning code; incorporating bicycle facility assessment into the development review process; almost doubling the amount of bicycle pavement markings on city streets; completing major projects for grade-separation on Denver trails; and updating the free Denver Bike Map. So much work has been done to improve Denver for bicyclists, but there is still a commitment to continue to provide better facilities and connectivity for bicyclists."
Biking is big in Denver.
Look no further than Denver Cruisers, which hosts large, festive motor-free, two-wheel events like the Orange Ride that will descend on Sports Authority Field for the Broncos game this Sunday.
But while the Mile High City has the potential to be a haven for bicyclists, there is a long way to go.
The new green lanes on 15th Street, for example, are often occupied by buses, mail trucks and other motorized vehicles that temporarily park in them. The bike lane also requires the west-bound cyclist to traverse from left to right across the one-way 15th Street at its intersection with Larimer Street.
But it's not just Denver that takes biking seriously. The League of American Bicyclists honored Boulder and Fort Collins with platinum awards; Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Durango, Steamboat Springs with gold awards; Aspen, Colorado Springs, Gunnison, Longmont, Salida and Vail earned silver awards; and Arvada, Carbondale, Castle Rock, Golden, Greeley, Lakewood and Summit County achieved bronze status.
This year was the largest round of applications since the inception of the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly America program in 2003, organizers said. Thirty-two more communities joined the program this year, raising the overall number of participants in the program to 291 across 48 states.
Officials say applicants get customized feedback on their application and access to technical assistance.
The state of Washington bested Colorado in the rankings, receiving top honors.
Oregon finished third, Minnesota fourth and Delaware fifth.
Fort Collins-based New Belgium Brewery, which features a bicycle on its Fat Tire beer label and sponsors cycling races and cruiser events, earned a platinum award from the League of American Bicyclists. The city of Fort Collins, REI in Fort Collins and bike gadget maker CatEye North America in Boulder were honored with gold awards. REI Denver, Mountain Bike Specialists in Durango, Big Shot Bikes in Fort Collins, Hottman law office in Golden and Community Cycles in Boulder achieved silver status. Montrose-based Hendrix & Associates, Boulder's Bikes Belong, the city of Colorado Springs, Longmont's Xilinx, Fort Collins-based Equinox Brewing Co. and Colorado Springs Utilities earned bronze awards.
Colorado State University and the University of Denver are also enrolled in the program, earning silver and bronze awards, respectively. The University of Colorado in Boulder was not listed.