The governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, has announced a plan to spend more than $100 million over the next 4 years to make Colorado "the best state for biking." A worthy goal, for sure! Kudos to the governor for putting some real money behind a project that can make his state a better place to live.
"Biking can be such a positive force, and I think being the best biking state is going to fuel economic growth and tourism. It's going to lead us toward a cleaner environment, and it's going to help us be the healthiest state in America," Hickenlooper said in Las Vegas at Interbike, the largest annual bike trade event in North America.
But the improvements won't just come from spending dollars. In fact, many bike-friendly bits of infrastructure don't require much more than a can of paint. What matters most is the political will and a culture of thinking about cyclists as equals to drivers at the various departments of transportation:
Headed by the state's dollar-a-year bike czar, Ken Gart, the Colorado Pedals Project hinges on a cultural shift at CDOT.
Gart and Dan Grunig, the head of bike-advocacy group Bicycle Colorado, can share a dozen stories of Colorado towns bisected by highways — including Gunnison, Steamboat Springs and Winter Park — struggling against byzantine, autocentric transportation department regulations when trying to solve even simple problems such as securing a pedestrian crossing.
"All these little towns have been running into roadblocks when they want to implement locally directed and demanded bike paths, but CDOT regulations get in the way," said Jenn Dice, whose Boulder-based People for Bikes group lobbies locally and nationally for bike-friendly policies. [...]
"Where CDOT has been an obstacle in the past, either deliberately or accidentally, we have a good chance of them being a facilitator," Gart said. "I think that culture change is by far the most powerful thing here."
This is exactly the kind of mentality shift that needs to happen in Colorado, as well as in many other parts of the country and the world.
Bike friendliness is at the top of what high $ workers look for when relocating. Colorado nails it! http://t.co/a7iqCPdbnU— Mr. Money Mustache (@mrmoneymustache) September 16, 2015
We think Mr. Money Mustache - a popular blogger who mostly writes about becoming financially independent through a lifestyle that aligns very well with the TreeHugger life - is absolutely right. Making the state more bike friendly isn't just a good thing for hippies, it's a very attractive feature for people who highly value quality of life, and that includes many of the most skilled (and mobile!) workers in the country.
Via Denver Post