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CALC reflects on the 2019 Colorado Bicycle Summit

Keynote Speaker Rebecca Rusch with Pam Jiner, a community advocate who promotes bicycling in her very diverse community of Montbello. Image Credit: Pam Jiner

On October 7, 2019, four CALC members-- Allison Diehl, Pam Jiner, Jeff Lawhead, and Beth Wyatt-- attended Bicycle Colorado's Annual Bicycle Summit through CALC's scholarship program. Check out their takes on the sessions below. Many thanks to Allison, Pam, Jeff, and Beth for sharing!


People for Bikes Workshop. Image Credit: Bicycle Colorado

Morning Workshop: People for Bikes hosted a morning workshop based on their booklet, “Engage, Plan, Build, and Measure, A Guide for City Leaders.” The focus of the workshop was on identifying and developing the essential qualities for a bike network, summarized here:

For a bike network to be effective it was determined that it needs to be:

  • Continuous

  • Intuitive

  • Separate

  • Attractive

  • Forgiving

In order to implement a bike network several factors are important and these include:

  • Build local capacity

  • Create a coalition of support

  • Develop a network plan

  • Accelerate implementation

  • Incentive mobility options

  • Increase ridership

  • Improve safety

The highlights stressed from the workshop included:

  1. Build a network as opposed to individual projects

  2. Act expeditiously as opposed to incrementally

  3. Make sure to provide outreach and engagement

  4. Be sure to measure performance

In order to be successful in building a bike network, it is important to assemble the team which could include: city staff, local advocates, community leaders, business leaders, and elected officials. Build for success and build local capacity through coalition building, media education, peer networking, staffing and experiential learning.


Colorado Governor Jared Polis addresses the audience at the Colorado Bicycle Summit. Image Credit: Bicycle Colorado

State of the State

Presented by Pete Piccolo, Executive Director at Bicycle Colorado

with Governor Jared Polis

Pete’s 30 minute opening remarks succinctly and powerfully captured the following key components of Colorado’s biking community:

Bicycle Colorado Executive Director Pete Piccolo honoring Chuck Vogel who was killed in a hit and run on the 4th of July in Parker, CO. Image credit: Bicycle Colorado.
  • Biking is amazing and provides great opportunity. Unfortunately, the sport and commentary is dominated by middle-aged white men and the dialogue needs to change. We must work together to increase equity - “ensuring all people on bikes are treated equitably.”

  • There have been too many tragic and fatal deaths on Colorado's roadways this year.

  • Take Action: It is wonderful that we have the ability and desire to bicycle as we see fit, but that does not necessarily mean we are advocates. We must combine our bicycle interests and passions with advocacy. We must increase our bicycle voice to create safe and easily accessible infrastructure for all. Bicycle Colorado provides six ways to show your support for bicycling in Colorado.


Lunch Session

with Dan Prenzlow, the new Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW)

Lunch with Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife. Image Credit: Bicycle Colorado

Colorado’s state parks are facing many challenges as the state population and tourism numbers continue to climb. Combined with the fact that the cost of maintaining the parks has surpassed the revenue they are bringing in, CPW must look at ways to increase funding and reduce spending to preserve these beauties. One approved piece of the solution is a $4 fee per pedestrian or bicyclist for a daily pass to enter 19 of the 41 parks. Conversation is underway in implementing an additional annual fee for mountain bikers.

It was mentioned that mountain bikers expect a certain level of maintenance on the trails they ride and since they are the primary users of many of the trails that allow mountain biking it makes sense to charge them a fee. Based on the conversation from the audience, it appeared that people are willing to pay a little extra to take care of their beloved Colorado wilderness. One issue that spurred the introduction of the pedestrian and cyclist fee is a loophole that some people take advantage of to avoid paying the entrance fee for a vehicle: they park outside of the park. There are still some pieces to the puzzle that have yet to be worked out--like trails that extend through multiple cities and parks--CPW wants to work with everyone who uses the state parks to ensure we can enjoy them for generations to come.

Check out the CPW website to learn more and read about Colorado’s newest State Park, Fishers Peak!


Keynote Speaker Rebecca Rusch

Rebecca Rush, ultra-endurance professional athlete, activist, author, entrepreneur. Rebecca has created more opportunity for female cyclists in the world of mountain and gravel road riding. Image Credit: Pam Jiner

Rebecca Rusch was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in September, 2019. She is the author of “Rush to Glory” and she began by reflecting on her gifts of tenacity and endurance. Rebecca never dreamed of becoming a cyclist and actually had to learn how to ride and learn how to win as she was awkward and overstimulated by her gust for adventure. She also had no idea that through cycling she would find community, friends and family. She presented before a packed room where it appeared many were sitting on the edge of their seats as she shared her soul on cycling. She was innovative and inspiring.

Rebecca came in second on her first professional race and the headline read, “Winning Ugly!” It takes more than skill and speed to win - “you need grit, determination, tenacity and endurance,” she said. Winning trophies aren’t everything because what lasts are community and friends. Rebecca met Greg Martin on a bike ride and she is now married to him. She went on to say that she also discovered the power of the human body and the mind while riding (“you push, feel, push, stretch, push and achieve”). “With your mind you set goals, new accomplishments and the power of the mind doesn’t need anybody watching for You to Win! Your goals are your lines in the sand, where you draw them determines if you win."

When Rebecca started racing professionally there were only two women among hundreds of “white dudes.” Today, there is 35% female participation in professional racing. This is known as the “Butterfly Effect;” as she flaps her wings, women and little girls across the world begin to flap their wings, too - and ride!

Rebecca has set and attained many goals in life around bicycling; but there’s one achievement that she will forever carry with her - “The Blood Road,” a documentary of her bike ride to the location where her father’s plane was shot down in Cambodia Southeast Asia, on June 5, 1971. You see, her father died when she was 3 years old and from his many postcards, she set out to connect with him. The film is a powerful depiction of self-determination and the will to achieve. Rebecca is truly remarkable!

Bicycling is not a popular sport in many communities of color for many reasons including road rage and racism, which definitely needs to be discussed. Yet riding a bike is refreshing, a great total body exercise and an easy way to travel and connect to people and practical destinations. The Montbello Community in Denver will be receiving its first protected bike lanes by mid-2020 and our goal is to inspire people of color to get out and ride. Including minority riders in competition or just as riders in their communities will take some work on everyone’s part. Let’s start by making our streets safe and welcoming to all riders.


Plenary Panel - (Re)volution: Bicycling in Colorado has an inclusion problem.

The hour long panel session was interesting and filled with a diverse group of riders who are all interested in seeing a shift from the “middle-aged white man” to more diverse ridership - including more women and more people of color:

  • Rebecca Rusch, ultra-endurance professional athlete, activist, author, entrepreneur. Rebecca has created more opportunity for female cyclists in the world of mountain and gravel road riding.

  • David Chen, avid e-bike commuter and bike advocate - David and his family have made biking their life, they are true bike commuters. They bike to work, school, run errands and life live on the bike, including biking trips to local state parks to camp. David’s family has created a family bicycle culture, something we should all try to emulate more!

  • Nina Buitrago, Pro BMX icon, Olympian and bike advocate - A very kind and generous spirit. Nina has transformed the BMX world to be more inclusive of women - here is a cool video of the BMX girl!

  • 14-year-old person of color who attends Kent Denver School and on a local bicycling team. He is one of the few young black cyclists competing in the local circuit and he wants to see more opportunity for other people of color to get into the wonderful world of cycling.

Image credit: Bicycle Colorado


Breakout Session: Shifting Public Perception- Bicycling in the Media

This breakout session focused around how crashes involving cyclists have historically been covered in the media. The panel included members of the press who expressed their interest in learning from those in the cycling community to do better at using language that effectively tells the story without victim blaming. This video of Kyle Clark of 9News Denver passionately talking about ensuring cyclist’s safety started a conversation in the room about the need for better infrastructure in our state.

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