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Bike to where?

Lu Snyder

SUMMIT COUNTY – Today is Bike to Work Day – an annual event celebrated throughout Colorado to get people out of their cars and onto their bikes. On the Front Range, thousands of people dusted off their bikes and left their cars at home.

But in Summit County, most people don’t even know about the event.

Nancy Bomgardner, recreation coordinator at the Silverthorne Recreation Center, said the center has had a tent with refreshments and trail information for cyclists on Bike to Work Day for the past several years, but this year the center is not doing anything.

“We really didn’t get much response,” Bomgardner said, adding she isn’t sure whether the lack of response was due to the center’s location at the north end of the county, lack of interest, or because there wasn’t a countywide effort. “I guess it just never really got off the ground.”

Chris Hart, co-owner of Great Adventure Sports in Breckenridge, said his store used to provide refreshments and offer in-store specials in recognition of the annual event, but he has not planned anything this year, either.

There are only a few employers who are urging employees to ride this year.

Keystone communications coordinator Helen Hill said Keystone encouraged employees to bike to work today, reminding them of the personal and environmental benefits of getting to work on one’s own steam.

And Frisco is rewarding employees who cycle to work today with a free breakfast, said Frisco community relations director Linda Lichtendahl.

Otherwise, not much is happening to motivate auto-holics out of their cars and onto two wheels today.

“It’s kind of like the great American smokeout,” said Dillon marketing and events manager Sally Croker. “You hope everyone participates, but as far as the town formally organizing anything, we haven’t.”

There are more than three million bicycles in the state, and Coloradans are five times more likely than the national average to ride their bike. But only 2 percent of Coloradans commute by bike regularly, said Dan Grunig, executive director of Bicycle Colorado, a nonprofit organization that works to improve conditions for cyclists in Colorado.

While Bike to Work Day recognizes those who commute by bike regularly, the main goal is “for those who don’t commute regularly to give it a try on their own and find out how easy it is and hopefully plan to do it again,” Grunig said.

Hart said most people are so busy they live out of their cars and don’t even consider using their bike as transportation.

“I think if you just tried to commute on a bike – even part of the week – you’d find out how easy it is,” Hart said.

Jeffrey Bergeron, also known as Biff America, said he rides to work as much as he can, year-round.

“If you get used to it … it’s just easier and more convenient to bicycle,” Bergeron said. “We fight wars over oil – not only is (bicycling) good for your lungs, it’s good for humanity.”

According to the Rocky Mountain News, approximately 7,500 people are expected to ride their bikes to work in Denver today. Incentives to ride include free T-shirts and breakfasts and various prizes.

Grunig said Boulder has the model Bike to Work Day program; it includes corporate competitions – in which businesses compete against each other to have the most employees bike or to log the highest combined miles – and other events.

“They really use it as a means to promote bicycling as an alternate means of transportation,” Grunig said.

But if Summit County residents don’t even know about the annual event, it’s unlikely the bike paths will be crowded today.

Hart said the event might be more successful in Summit County if more municipalities participated.

“I think … for it to really work it would have to come from a government level,” he said.

Bergeron said incentives might encourage people, but it would also help if businesses could make it more convenient by providing bike racks, lockers for clothes and maybe even a shower.

This is Frisco’s first year to recognize the day, but Lichtendahl said town officials would like to expand it next year “and see if we can get a town-wide effort.”

And though Dillon hasn’t planned anything this year, Croker said, “Maybe it’s something we need to look into. I think that’d be neat.”

Lu Snyder can be reached at 970-668-3998 x203 or lsnyder@summitdaily.com


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