Saturday, May 19, 2012

Summit County wins bronze level recognition for cycling

Summit County joined Breckenridge on an elite list of bike-friendly communities, winning a bronze level recognition this year for its efforts to make the community safe and enjoyable for bikers.

The League of American Bicyclists selected Summit County for the first time, determining that the local government had demonstrated the early stages of a strong commitment to cycling and had “room to grow,” according to a statement from county officials.

Bronze is the first of the organization's four levels — below silver, gold and platinum — of recognition of municipalities' efforts to accommodate cycling.

“This designation confirms Summit County's commitment to serve the bicycling community and to promote our recreation pathway system,” County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier stated in a recent release. “The recpaths are an important county asset enjoyed by locals while serving as an attraction for our summer visitors.”

Fifteen percent of county roads also accommodate bicycles, and two thirds of side streets have bike lanes or paved shoulders.

A dedicated bike page on the county website along with safety education and training efforts for everyone from Summit Middle and High School students to law enforcement officers and bus drivers also helped score Summit County the designation.

Events like the Pro Cycling Challenge, Copper Triangle Triple By-Pass, Children's Hospital Courage Classic and the Circle the Summit/Bob Guthrie Memorial Ride helped secure the bike-friendly community title as well.

But the work isn't done, county officials say.

“We're going to continue to look at more ways to improve our bicycle and pedestrian facilities,” assistant county manager Thad Noll said. “Every time we do a road project we think about how we can make it better for bicycles.”

A resurfacing project planned for Dillon Valley this summer will include a bit of extra work to widen the road for cyclists, an important improvement in an area often used by children on bikes.

The county also partnered with the Colorado Department of Transportation this year to improve the shoulders and highway on Vail Pass to make the area safer for cyclists.

Breckenridge was designated a gold-level bike-friendly community last year. There are now more than 200 municipalities nationwide that hold the title. Only three, Boulder, Davis, Calif., and Portland, Ore., have reached the top, platinum level recognition.

Durango graduated to a gold-level designation, while Aspen reached silver this year.