Big Win for Safer Biking on Folsom

Safer bicycling won a huge victory at Boulder’s City Council on Aug 25th. By a vote of 7–2 in a late-night study session, City Council voted to keep the Folsom Street protected bike lanes intact for their entire 0.6 mile stretch, while testing tweaks to signal timing, bollard placement, pedestrian crossings and the length of left turn lanes.

Council received almost 1000 letters on this project, with 57% expressing support. Over the course of just two days, 42 Boulder businesses signed a letter supporting the Folsom Street lanes and continued innovations for bicyclists in Boulder.

Councilman Karakehian, who had not supported the lanes from the start, continued to be unswayed. Councilwoman Lisa Morzel, who had voted tentatively in favor of the initial installation, was not present, but submitted comments to council proposing to remove the protected bike lanes south of Pine. Fortunately, the remainder of council voted to keep the protected bike lanes in for the entire length, including Mayor Applebaum, who had voted against the project earlier.

Transportation staff gave a very complete presentation, with before and after data that “exceeded industry standards,” according to the Project for Public Spaces. Staff apologized for earlier problems with communications leading up to the project, during roll out, and immediately following installation and gave a long list of “lessons learned”.

Council members’ comments reflected a lot of thought on the issue and attention to community concerns. Zan Jones commented that while she rides to work every day and feels fairly comfortable riding Folsom as is, she thinks about where she would let her young niece ride. “Before I would never ride on Folsom with her. It was too dangerous. But now my niece and I can ride Folsom.” Macon Cowles commented on Boulder’s commitment to addressing climate change. “This community voted overwhelmingly in favor of us working on climate change. If we are to address climate issues and transportation, we must do even more of these projects.”

“By continuing with the protected lanes pilot project in Boulder, City Council showed they are leaders in providing safe transportation for all users and addressing climate issues caused by private automobiles,”  said Sue Prant, Community Cycles Executive Director. Community Cycles Advocacy Committee led the effort on the protected bike lanes as part of the organization’s mission to provide safe places for people of all ages and skill levels to ride a bike. “While Boulder has a great multi-use path system for those who are more timid riders, or those who would like to ride a bike but are afraid to share the road with cars, there is really no north/south route for the interested but concerned rider. Folsom is a key connection to getting more people on bikes,” she continued.

Community Cycles worked with its 2,000+ members to get letters of support to City Council. In the last week of the campaign, Bicycle Colorado and the Boulder-based national organization People for Bikes joined the effort, appealing to their members to write council as well. “Having the support of other organizations in the final stretch helped us pull out this victory for people who want to safely ride bikes in Boulder,” said Prant. “ It was inspiring to be working with a great team that included other nonprofits, our staff, our volunteers, and the many, many people who supported this in the community. No matter where I went, people kept telling me we were doing a great job and to keep up the fight so their kids could safely bike to school.”
Community Cycles will continue to work with city staff, council and Boulder citizens to monitor the data and consider tweaks to make the road function better and more safely for all users, and to ensure the pilot project stays in for the full year as planned. Community Cycles will be using its own funding to support a social media campaign to solicit productive feedback from pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers and businesses.

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