Joel Reichenberger: Speak now, Steamboat |

Joel Reichenberger: Speak now, Steamboat

Steamboat Springs is a community that’s not afraid to share its views, and certainly there have been plenty of opinions passed about town as to what Steamboat’s grand summer of biking development really has meant.

Much of the summer’s work is about to be put on public display, starting Thurs­day night as the inaugural Ste­amboat Springs Bike Summit kicks off with a presentation by Tim Blumenthal, of the Bikes Belong association.

Meanwhile, all public comments about the proposed changes to Steamboat Ski Area’s summer trails master plan are due to the U.S. Forest Service by Oct. 28.

Those two events spread across the next two weeks offer locals a great chance to get involved. Now is the time for all worthy ideas, opinions, complaints and congratulations to come out.

The Bike Summit, which starts Thursday and wraps up Saturday, will showcase what exactly organizers have in mind when they envision “Bike Town USA.”

Guest speakers from across the country will speak about cycling development in their hometowns. Speakers from Jackson, Wyo., and Boulder will talk about trails and transportation in those cities. New Belgium Brewery will talk about the benefits it’s enjoyed by being a bicycle friendly business, and a speaker from Whistler City, British Columbia, will talk about the benefits that region has enjoyed since it became one of the world’s top cycling destinations.

Steamboat can be an incredibly optimistic, bright-eyed city at times.

Ever been flipped off in traffic when it’s snowing in November or December, or when there’s 12 fresh on the mountain on an early January morning?

I didn’t think so.

But there’s a negativity that sometimes feels almost equally persistent, and I’ve seen that at times latch itself to the cycling initiatives, never in a big way, but in little comments.

That seems somewhat ridiculous. Nearly everyone involved is a volunteer. Everyone involved is interested in improving the quality of life in Steamboat, and they see improved cycling facilities as a way to do that.

Whether their motivation is helping the local economy or simply ensuring their children have a safe way to ride their bikes to and from school shouldn’t really matter.

Improved cycling trails and venues in the region is like a big snow year during the winter. It’s a tide that can lift all boats, whether that’s a town cruiser who might enjoy a longer Yampa River Core Trail, a business owner who might enjoy a few extra customers or a nonbiker who might enjoy happier neighbors.

Many of the projects and ideas are big, and there are legitimate questions related to them, from traffic concerns to budgetary worries.

There never will be a better time to raise concerns and ask those questions, and never a better time to learn what exactly the dreams are.

This is the chance, and if the local grumbler misses it, he or she loses a lot of credibility in my book.

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