BRECKENRIDGE - With enhanced bike lanes, a communitywide bike-to-work program and, recently, some of the best cyclists in the world passing through its streets, Breckenridge was upgraded this week to a gold-level bike-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists.
The town is now one of only 14 communities in the country to have received a gold designation, an elite group that includes Fort Collins, Steamboat Springs, Seattle and San Francisco.
Breckenridge's ties to and note in the bicycling community now rival those in the ski community, town officials said following the announcement of the award Tuesday.
"This is one of those arrows in the quiver to make Breckenridge more of a sustainable community," town spokeswoman Kim Dykstra-DiLallo said. "The more people ride bikes and the easier it is to ride bikes, the less people have to rely on fossil fuel vehicles. It's a testament to how committed we are to cycling. It's a reflection of this community."
This year, Breckenridge has put a renewed focus on improving the community for cyclists through infrastructure projects, events and programming that promote cycling in the community.
In the last year the town has created designated bike lanes on Main St. and Park Ave., as well as increasing educational resources about biking on its website, passing bike-friendly ordinances and increasing signage for bikes. This summer, Breck hosted a bike week complete with around-town rides with Mayor John Warner and director of the Colorado Tourism Office Al White and the stage five finish of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, one of the biggest spectator events in state history.
"We think that those are some of the reasons why we were increased up to the gold level," Dykstra-DiLallo said. "The USA Pro Cycling Challenge put a good spotlight on Breckenridge. That probably had something to do with it as well."
The League of American bicyclists ranks communities on a four-level scale - with bronze being the lowest, gold being the second highest and platinum the highest level - as part of its Bike Friendly America Program.
There are currently only three platinum-level bike-friendly communities in the country, one of which is Boulder, but Breck already has its sights set on getting to that highest level. Officials said they will be communicating with the League to get suggestions on ways to improve the ranking.
There are currently 190 ranked bicycle-friendly communities in 46 states nationwide that have implemented "successful, long-term bicycle plans and programs that provide quality of life improvements for their citizens," League president Andy Clarke stated in a recent release. "Cities are choosing investment in bicycling, even in tough economic times as a key to building the places people want to live, work and visit."
The bicycle friendly community award is given to communities that commit to improving conditions for bicycling, educational programs, infrastructure and pro-biking policies. The application process too receive the award is "rigorous," according to the League. Out of 490 applications, only 190 communities have been given a bronze, silver, gold or platinum designation. The designation lasts four years, and in renewing their application communities can attempt to improve their rankings.
Additional information about the Bicycle Friendly America program is available online at www.bikeleague.org.