Boulder Pushes for Better Biking

This rendering of northbound Folsom Street demonstrates how “rightsizing” involves repurposing travel lanes to enhance bicycle facilities. These new lanes will be completed in 2015.

The City of Boulder wants to increase bike trips by women, seniors and families with children—groups that often don’t feel comfortable or safe sharing the road with cars. The latest bike network plan for retrofitting existing roads and bike lanes (aka “Bike 2.0”) aims specifically at getting more people out of their cars and on to two wheels.

So the city has been working hard to figure out which streets and intersections to update—and what innovations to adopt—to create safe, comfortable connections and increase the opportunities for bicycle travel for all levels of riders.

Imagine biking a busy boulevard along an old, poorly marked three-foot-wide bike lane. Now imagine that bike lane doubled in width and with a two- to three-foot “buffer zone”—a no-go area between bikes and cars—marked with paint or collapsible poles high enough to catch the eye of the most distracted motorist.

As part of the 2014 Transportation Master Plan (TMP) update and through GO Boulder’s Living Lab program, the City of Boulder introduced new infrastructure for bicycle safety around town. You may have seen or biked some of the protected or buffered bike lanes on University Avenue, Baseline Road or Spruce Street.

Now, these new ways of protecting bicyclists are coming to some of Boulder’s most important arteries as pilot projects for 12–18 months starting this summer:

› 55TH STREET: Arapahoe Avenue to Pearl Parkway

› 63RD STREET: Gunbarrel Avenue/ Nautilus Drive to Lookout Road

› FOLSOM STREET: Arapahoe to Valmont avenues

› IRIS AVENUE: Broadway to Folsom Street

With the TMP updates, the goal is for a continuous network for safe and convenient bicycle travel for everyone. The city is refining a low-stress bike network analysis tool to identify areas where new treatments may address the safety concerns of potential bicyclists.

With an average trip length of approximately four miles, many trips in Boulder could be accomplished by bike. With that, GO Boulder is staying focused on creating a network of bicycle facilities that feel safe and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities.

Check out to learn more about program details and how to share your thoughts and ideas.


As part of Bike 2.0, the city is considering new pilot projects to enhance multimodal access and safety. Phase II of the Living Lab program introduces the concept of “Rightsizing” specific corridors by creating an equitable allocation of space on the road for vulnerable users to improve their comfort and safety. “Rightsizing” also provides benefits to motor vehicle drivers by lowering traffic speeds, which can reduce the severity of collisions when they do occur.

This story was written by Dave “DK” Kemp and Marni Ratzel, senior transportation planners at GO Boulder.