Nonprofits  July 19, 2022

Local biking organizations work to improve access

Biking is a way to have fun, get exercise, and, yes, save money — especially with gas prices at $5 a gallon.

It’s also a way to solve problems while building community through organizations like PeopleForBikes and Community Cycles in Boulder and Bike Fort Collins serving the Front Range.

“Biking is part of the solution for a lot of things. It’s a solution for climate change. It’s a solution for physical health, and it’s a solution for mental health,” said Jordan Trout, deputy marketing director of PeopleForBikes in Boulder. “It’s more than just a kid’s activity.” 

Biking is used for all types of things, including commuting, transportation, recreation, touring and bike packing, and it takes all forms from mountain, road and gravel biking to E-bikes. 


PeopleForBikes, a business and trade advocacy organization founded in 1999, lobbies for funding, biking access and pro-bike policies at all levels of government. 

Twelve members of the bicycling industry founded the organization to get more people interested in biking and to reduce any barriers they face to riding. They wanted to position bikes as a way to connect communities, protect the environment, improve health and boost local and state economies. 

“The goal was really to bring the industry together and to set competition aside to focus on getting people on bikes,” Trout said. “Infrastructure is the number one reason people will or won’t ride. More people riding benefits the biking industry.”

If the infrastructure isn’t there and deemed safe, PeopleForBikes finds that people won’t get on their bikes — they also won’t ride if they don’t know where to go or if the infrastructure is too far away. PeopleForBikes works with governments to improve bike infrastructure and to help cities build connected bike networks including bike lanes, paths and trails. It also aims to ensure funds allocated for bike infrastructure are used for that purpose and aren’t reallocated to other uses. 

“It’s really encouraging individuals to make that personal investment through a sales or property tax increase to make their city bike- and pedestrian-friendly,” Trout said. 

PeopleForBikes encourages individuals to vote in favor of bike measures through #VoteForBikes, a program and campaign that educates voters on the issues they’re facing. Funding can come from property, income or sales tax increases and bonds for outdoor recreation, open space and mobility infrastructure. So far in 2022, the organization advocated for $509 million in new funding for bikes and safe street infrastructure, and the vast majority passed. 

PeopleForBikes’ three pillars of priority include infrastructure, participation and policy, and it puts policies, initiatives and programs in place that support riding. 

“Good policy leads to good infrastructure, and good infrastructure leads to more participation,” Trout said. 

On June 21, the organization launched its annual City Ratings program, now in its sixth year. The program rates more than 1,000 cities on a scale of 1-100 and then ranks them out of the total for the quality and safety of their bike networks. 

“A number of Colorado cities are in the top 15,” Trout said, adding that cities can use the data to take steps to improve their networks. “There are small things cities can do to make biking more accessible.”

PeopleForBikes supports riding in other ways, such as its Keep Riding Campaign that uses Ride Spot, a free app that helps people discover and share great bike rides and offers a number of challenges. The campaign encourages new riders who discovered, or rediscovered, bicycling in 2020 during the height of the pandemic and inspires them to keep riding in 2021 and beyond. In 2020, 4% of all American adults, or 10 million people, rode a bike for the first time in one or more years or for the first time ever — and another 16% tried a new type of biking.

Their reasons? They wanted to get out of the house, needed a way to stay active and wanted to spend time outdoors.

“Bikes are part of a multifaceted solution, and bikes can make life great,” Trout said. “It gives people more options and choices.”

Community Cycles

Community Cycles is a membership-based nonprofit centered around a bike shop that advocates for safe, sustainable transportation, increases access to biking and provides a space for cyclists to repair their bikes. The nonprofit, founded in 2006, has 2,000 members “who ride bicycles, love bicycles, and support bicycle-based transportation,” as stated on its website,

“It was just founded by a group of people who wanted to offer access to inexpensive bicycles and the ability to work on your own bike and to create a community of people who own bikes,” said Sue Prant, executive director of Community Cycles. “Boulder has a fair amount of bike facilities, but in order to use them, you need access.”

Boulder has more than 300 miles of multi use bike paths, including trails and designated bike lanes, a high number for a city its size, Prant said. 

“People are really riding everywhere. That’s the great thing about Boulder. There’s lots of places to ride, but we still could use more connectivity,” Prant said. “There’s a lot there, and you can get a lot of places in Boulder.”

Community Cycles increases access to the city’s bike paths in a number of ways starting with a bike shop. Really an educational center, the shop offers classes and workshops on cycling skills and bike care and repair, including a favorite on how to fix a flat tire. The shop also provides access to tools to make the repairs with help from professional bike mechanics

“It requires specialized tools that we have at the shop for you to use,” Prant said.

The bike shop has inexpensive refurbished bikes for sale and donates refurbished bikes locally and abroad by working with other community organizations with the aim to make biking affordable. The bikes are repaired and made like new by the mechanics, and old bikes are recycled. They’re broken down into salvageable parts that can be used for other repairs, while also being kept out of the landfill.

Another role of Community Cycles is to advance the cyclists’ agenda at the level of planning and policy. Beginning in 2015, the nonprofit began lobbying for safe places to ride bikes, as well as to walk, by working with local governments and private developers on various road and trail improvements.

The nonprofit advocated for the city to provide traffic calming on Colorado Avenue, improve biking and walking conditions on 30th Street, and establish a task force for rebuilding the canyon roads to include wide shoulders, signage and pull-off areas for bicyclists. The nonprofit also helped revise the city’s Transportation Master Plan with a set of goals to get more people on bikes. 

“We’re just making sure the road is safe for everybody using it including people walking and biking,” Prant said. “There’s only so much space on the road. In order to create safe bicycling facilities sometimes you need to take space from other users and that tends to be controversial.”

The nonprofit also worked with the city and county of Boulder to fund a secure bike parking facility at the Boulder Transit Center and lobbied the Colorado Department of Transportation to put in bike lanes on a section of U.S. 36.

“We have an advocacy committee that works with all levels of local government, elected officials, staff and advisory boards,” Prant said. “As far as public projects, we’re usually integral to the public outreach a municipality does and are involved from the start.” 

Boulder already has a lot in place to make biking safe but more can be done, including working with the city and county to complete the Boulder bikeway system and link communities through a regional trail network, Prant said.

“We have to work a little bit harder to make it more comfortable for more people to ride bikes, filling in the missing connections and providing safer facilities and safer bike lanes,” Prant said. “We have to make sure things connect and that we create a network to get more people safely and comfortable biking.”

Bike Fort Collins

Bike Fort Collins, a nonprofit founded in 2005, aims to increase participation in biking and other active forms of transportation, as well as advance cycling culture and support policy changes that create safer streets and communities. 

“We envision a day aspirationally where Fort Collins has a similar bicycle participation and culture … to Amsterdam,” said Dave Dixon, executive director of Bike Fort Collins. “Our vision is for Fort Collins to be the Amsterdam of the U.S.”

Bike Fort Collins had its start by encouraging the Fort Collins City Council to fund a bike coordinator position that eventually grew into the Active Modes Department, which encompasses bikes and other forms of transportation that require people power. The idea is to help the city develop and enforce community ordinances that protect cyclists and pedestrians. 

“The essence of all that is to get more bikes on safe streets,” Dixon said. “We’re all about more bikes, and we’re all about safe streets.”

Bike Fort Collins delivers on this goal through a number of programs, including the Fort Collins Bike Museum opened in 2006 and the Fort Collins Bike Library, implemented in 2008 in partnership with the city of Fort Collins to allow residents to check out bikes for free. The bike library evolved into the Bike Share program in 2016, then in 2021 into Pace Fort Collins, a dockless program operated by an outside provider that rents E-bikes and scooters.

“All along the way, we’ve been involved in bicycle advocacy initiatives and, more recently, improved infrastructure in the city,” Davis said.

Bike Fort Collins advocates for more signage in the county that helps communicate cycling laws to motorists, such as allowing for three-foot clearance when passing on the road. The nonprofit also helped execute the Paint to Pavement project, working with the city to install three separate asphalt art installations in neighborhoods of historically underrepresented groups (HUGs), paid for through a grant. Instead of waiting for the city to install curbing and gutters, infrastructure is painted to narrow roadways and slow down drivers, while improving safety and aesthetics.

“Streets are more beautiful because of the art application,” Davis said. 

Bike Fort Collins got involved in improving street safety in other ways. For instance in 2012, the nonprofit partnered with the city and Poudre School District to begin delivering the K-12 Safe Routes to Schools program, teaching rules of the road and safe biking practices to more than 7,000 students annually. That fall, the nonprofit initiated the Bike RACKS (Random Acts of Cycling Kindness) program by distributing free bike lights to riders in need.

In 2016, Bike Fort Collins received a three-year grant to increase access to safe and accessible routes for residents of the Poudre Valley Mobile Home Park. The nonprofit also created a Bike Friendly Business program hosted by the League of American Bicyclists, where businesses, universities and municipalities can apply for bike-friendly designations.

“When I think about bicycle advocacy organizations within a city, our relationship with the city of Fort Collins sets us apart,” Davis said. 

Bike Fort Collins also hosts rides and community events, such as a monthly happy hour ride to build a community of riders, a rat ride around town to identify areas needing improvement and various bike tours. The nonprofit also helps host New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat, Fort Collins’ largest cycling event and the nonprofit’s biggest fundraiser. 

“We try to keep it simple,” Davis said. “It all comes back to our mission, more bikes and safe streets, promoting and encouraging an increasing number of people to ride bikes.”

Biking is a way to have fun, get exercise, and, yes, save money — especially with gas prices at $5 a gallon.

It’s also a way to solve problems while building community through organizations like PeopleForBikes and Community Cycles in Boulder and Bike Fort Collins serving the Front Range.

“Biking is part of the solution for a lot of things. It’s a solution for climate change. It’s a solution for physical health, and it’s a solution for mental health,” said Jordan Trout, deputy marketing director of PeopleForBikes in Boulder. “It’s more than just a kid’s activity.” 

Biking is used for all types of…

Shelley Widhalm

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