Saturday, September 19, 2009

Observations from Boulder - livable streets and cycling

Thanks to some screwups from United Airlines, I ended up spending this past weekend in Niwot Colorado with my parents. This was received with great joy because we have their grandson in tow, so he is being shuttled around to see anyone and everyone. I had a special treat today in that I got to go to the Colorado/Wyoming Football game in Boulder. Not a very good game, but it was nice to get out on a gorgeous day in the foothills.

I paid a lot of attention on the trip into and around Boulder. Boulder County has changed tremendously over the 15 years since I left for good. The tiny hamlet of Firestone Colorado which used to be a truck stop and a couple of farms now seems to consist of an anchor of a Home Depot and several car dealerships surrounded by satellites of fast food and casual dining joints. Bizarre.

Inside Boulder proper there are a lot of what my friends call "shiny places" - chain stores like Applebee's, Best Buy, Whole Foods, etc... and even the Mom and Pop joints have to have signage as if they were part of a 100 store chain, it seems to be what's expected around here. I won't condemn Boulder for that - it's not San Francisco.

Boulder is also not San Francisco in that the bicycle signage was shockingly good. Sharrows, Bike route signage (and I don't mean the obscure "Bike Route 45" type signs you see in SF, I mean "HERE IS THE BIKE PATH DON'T RUN OVER THE CYCLIST" type signs. On campus, crosswalks were setup such that you push a button and immediately lights start flashing telling cars not to run over the pedestrians. And perhaps the most unexpected sign of them all - a sign that said "BIKES USE FULL LANE". It went by fast and I didn't quite catch where it was, but it preceeded a downhill and the signage inferred in some manner that there was a downhill coming and encouraged cyclists to take the lane rather than get squeezed over to the side at speed. I am trying to find the sign on google street view - it is on a road headed North towards Pearl St from Campus, somewhere West of Broadway (probably 9th).

And we in San Francisco cry to get "Bikes ALLOWED use of full lane".

Much like Purdue, the CU Boulder campus had a lot of cyclists, and not a lot of helmets. Probably because they are thinking about not crashing, instead of how to mitigate a crash. Come to think of it, when I was 17 and did long bike rides on busy roads I didn't even own a helmet. This included riding to Jamestown and back as well as riding to Loveland on US-287.

1 comment:

Yokota Fritz said...

City of Boulder policy is to sign all arterials and collectors with steep downhill grades with that "USE FULL LANE" sign.