Spoke Talk: Good news from Interbike
Last week, Colorado made national headlines from Interbike in Las Vegas — the largest annual gathering of the bicycle industry in the country — when Gov. John Hickenlooper announced the state has committed more than $100 million over the next four years to enhance its ability to become the best state to ride a bike. Hickenlooper was the first ever governor to speak at Interbike, providing the opening keynote address — which, in itself, says something about the prominence of the cycling industry.
According to news from Hickenlooper’s office, Colorado is often ranked the fittest state and was recently ranked the most physically active state in the country. Still, Colorado has an obesity rate of more than 21 percent, up from 16 percent in 2004. And kids are only spending four to seven minutes per day outside in unstructured play, but are spending seven to 10 hours per day staring at screens. Those stats are probably a little off kilter by Steamboat’s standards, but when reviewing them historically, the trend is there: less time outdoors — more time in front of computers or televisions.
Colorado’s four-year plan and $100 million budget will allow the state to add bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, better understand and market the cycling industry and support awareness and education efforts to promote safety. We can expect some of that funding will find its way to Steamboat projects, but perhaps even more importantly, the changes will help the overall marketing efforts to attract more cyclists to Colorado. Once visitors — or potential new residents — discover the allure of Colorado as a bicycle-centric state, it’s only a matter of time before they learn about Steamboat Springs’ commitment to cycling.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is committed to spending at least 2.5 percent of its construction budget on bike and pedestrian programs, including infrastructure. Great Outdoors Colorado — which has funded several projects in Steamboat Springs — will also play a prominent role in this new initiative. GOCO invests lottery proceeds in Colorado’s rivers, parks, open space, wildlife and trails and has been the state’s single largest funding source for trails.
In July, Hickenlooper established the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office in recognition of the huge impact and importance of this industry to the state’s economy. It provides a central point of contact, advocacy, resources and support at the state level for diverse businesses, communities and groups that rely on the outdoor recreation industry.
While this organization supports a broad range of outdoor activities, biking is certainly a major focus. Routt County Riders’ International Mountain Bicycling Association liaison serves on the council, representing the needs and desires of the mountain bicycling industry. All this focus at the state-government level is great news for biking. Clearly, it’s not just for kids anymore.
In other news from Interbike, Steamboat’s own Honey Stinger unveiled new gluten free waffles and chews and introduced a fifth gel flavor — mango orange. And Moots’ Mountaineer YBB+ bicycle garnered the Best in Show award from bikepacking.com for its “sheer coolness in the bikepacking category.”
Wendy Tucciarone is a Routt County Riders member, volunteer and the club’s administrator.
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I have been skiing about 15 years now, learning to Nordic ski in gym class in elementary school and grew up Alpine skiing at Okemo Mountain in my home state of Vermont. I’m by no means a daredevil but I am comfortable on Alpine skis and my ability to get around in them.