From mountain single tracks to city commutes, Colorado has been named the seventh most bicycle-friendly state in the U.S.

The latest United States Census Bureau report, released in 2014, shows the number of people riding a bike to work has dramatically increased in the past decade.

The report shows that in 2000, there were roughly 488,000 people biking to work. Newer studies show that number has increased to about 786,000, not including those who bike to school or bike for recreation.

One organization doing its best to promote the benefits of biking is the League of American Bicyclists. The organization, established in 1956, encourages people to ride bicycles rather than drive cars. One way they highlight this healthy mode of transportation is with National Bike Month, which is celebrated in May in most of the country, but in June in Colorado. Our state will celebrate Bike to Work Day on June 28.

Colorado Great for Cycling

The League of American Bicyclists has created the Bicycle Friendly America (BFA) program, which provides best practices and hands-on assistance and recognition for states, communities, universities, and businesses that promote bicycling as an alternative to automobiles.

Among states, Colorado is in the top 10, coming in as the seventh most bicycle-friendly state in the U.S. Colorado has 20 communities, 105 businesses and seven universities that are bike friendly. How do you become known as a bike-friendly community? Many factors are taken into consideration, including,

  • Percentage of arterial streets with dedicated bicycle facilities
  • Updated bicycle plan that has been adopted and is being implemented
  • Bicycle-oriented engineering policies
  • Promotion of Bike Month and Bike to Work Events
  • Active bicycle advisory committee
  • Active bicycle advocacy group

A national survey that compared the number of people biking from 2005 to 2013 shows that Coloradans are increasingly biking rather than driving. During that time period, the state showed a 29 percent increase in the number of people peddling to work.

Safety Must Come First

While it’s encouraging that Colorado cities are actively expanding bike paths and doing what they can to encourage residents to cycle, safety is always a concern.

When it comes to deaths and injuries, 2015 proved to be one of the deadliest years for bicyclists in the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in that year 818 bicyclists were killed and another 45,000 were injured.

By far the biggest reason for the bicycle accidents — 29 percent — was a cyclist being hit by a car. But another reason, a somewhat more troubling one, is that 13 percent of the accidents were caused by rider error or by the rider not paying attention. That’s why it’s important to adhere to basic bike safety rules, which include:

  • Wearing a properly fitting bicycle helmet
  • Going with the flow of traffic (riding on the right in the same direction as motor vehicles)
  • Obeying all traffic laws because a bike is considered a vehicle
  • Wearing bright colors so you can be seen
  • Watching for and avoiding road hazards (potholes, broken glass, and other hazards that interfere with your control of your bike)
  • Staying alert at all times (not wearing earbuds, or texting while you are riding a bike)

Obeying traffic laws and using common sense will go a long way if you’d like to bike around Colorado. And don’t forget, June 28 is Bike to Work Day in our state. Instead of grabbing the car keys, grab your bike helmet and enjoy the experience of peddling to work.

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