Published: Dec. 1, 2014


bikes in a row stop light with bike sign University Bicycles building man biking on path Boulder Bikeways sign Boulder B Cycle bikes

Boulder knows cyclists: Andy Hampsten, Tyler Hamilton, Ted King and the Phinney family have all blazed down the local roads and trails.

But even in bicycle country, elite cyclists are a minority. It’s ordinary riders — students, commuters, amateurs of all stripes — that sustain the city’s bike-friendly culture.

In its 2014 list of the U.S.’s “Top 50 Bike-friendly Cities,” Bicycling Magazine ranked Boulder sixth, underscoring the unusually high percentage of bike commuters, more than 12 percent. The biennial ranking also named Denver, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs to the list.

If no American city rivals Amsterdam, where bicycles outnumber people and more local trips are by bike than car, Boulder is making headway. Not every city has more than 300 miles of dedicated bikeways or traffic lights just for bikes.

There’s more to come: Through its “Living Laboratory” program, Boulder has installed or is considering a variety of pilot projects to promote safe bicycling, including buffered bike lanes and new rules requiring motorists to back into parking spots at angles, providing greater visibility upon departure.

Boulder dropped three spots in Bicycling’s 2014 ranking. Maybe the innovations will help us gain ground on the first place finisher: New York.

Photography by Douglas Wray and Peter Burke