The City of Greeley’s park planner and certified cycling instructor, Sarah Boyd, says the culture of Greeley is changing, and now offers more than 30 miles of shared-use bicycling paths, and 43 miles of bike lanes, writes Kati Blocker, UCHealth, in an article appearing in The Tribune. Bevin Barber Campbell, a bike advocate and teacher in northern Colorado, suggests that people try commuting to work just once a month by bike, to see what that is like, Blocker writes. Barber Campbell thinks it could catch on, saying, “Take it in baby steps and you might be surprised to find yourself doing it once every week.”
The Greeley City Council’s ”Greeley Master Bicycle Plan — The Road to Gold!” says that Greeley will be a “gold level” bike-friendly community, where bicycling is “a safe, accessible, and normal form of transportation and recreation,” as the Greeley government website states. The plan aims to be a guide that strengthens transportation choices for many years.
Blocker writes that bicycling provides many health benefits, such as weight loss and disease prevention. The average bike commuter loses 13 pounds the first year that he or she begins the bike-commuting regimen, she says the The League of American Bicyclists reports. And a half-hour bike ride five days a week can reduce heart failure by half and lower the rate of breast cancer, Blocker writes.
But despite the health benefits of bicycling, there is also the risk of accidents. Bicyclists need to remember that the safest way to ride is to act as a driver of a vehicle, Boyd told Blocker. Cyclists are required to adhere to the same road rules as vehicle drivers, Blocker notes. She adds that nearly 40% of local bicycle accidents involve a rider who is riding against traffic and conflicting with vehicles going in a perpendicular direction.
‘There is safety in numbers,’ said Dr. Terri Marty, an acute care and trauma surgeon with UCHealth in northern Colorado. ‘Data shows there is an inverse relationship between the number of riders and accidents. Denmark and Netherlands bike the most miles per person per year and have the lowest fatality and accident rates. That’s because there is a respect for each other (between cyclists and drivers).’
Marty, who has been compiling bike injury data for UCHealth’s Trauma Research and Education department, says safety is number one, Blocker writes. “Cars need to respect bikes more, and bikes need to respect cars more,” Marty said. Blocker reports that since 2006, there have been 10 cyclist deaths in the area, eight of which involved a bicycle-vehicle collision, according to Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies data.
Helmets are “a must,” as they can help bicyclists avoid serious injury, but only less than one-third of riders wear one, Blocker writes. Marty says that brain injury is the number one cause of death and long-term disabilities for bicyclists; when a crash results in brain injury, the person is 20 times more likely to die. Helmets can reduce that risk as much as 88%, Blocker writes.
There are many community programs that give out helmets for free or for a small donation, Blocker writes. The City of Greeley’s Family Bike Nights and other bike-related events provide helmet fitting and free helmets, she adds. In addition, you can find information on bicycling classes and events at Greeleybikes.com.