Gov. John Hickenlooper has launched a plan to spend more than $100 million over four years to make Colorado “the best state for biking in the country.”

“Being the best biking state is going to fuel our robust economic growth and tourism industry, move us toward a cleaner environment and advance our goal of being the healthiest state in the nation,” Hickenlooper said at Las Vegas’ annual Interbike rally, the largest bike trade event in North America. His was the first-ever gubernatorial address at the 33-year-old Interbike.

Encouraging everyone in the room to steal his ideas, Hickenlooper described how his Colorado Pedals Project is aiming to mirror the two-wheeled culture of Denmark, which spends 25 percent of its road budget on bike infrastructure and where 36 percent of adults commute by bike at least once a week. (That compares to about 0.6 percent in the U.S.)

The Colorado Pedals Project — headed by Denver businessman Ken Gart, the state’s dollar-a-year bike czar — corrals Bicycle Colorado, Great Outdoors Colorado, the Department of Natural Resources and the new Outdoor Recreation Industry Office to work with the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Office of Economic Development in a private-public mingling.

Bike trails

First on the task list is cataloguing and connecting Colorado’s bike trails — natural, paved and bike lanes — around the state.

Hickenlooper’s plan hinges on CDOT incorporating more bike and pedestrian-friendly designs into all its projects. Bike lanes, wider shoulders, signage and a general encouragement of bicycling “will be the norm, not the exception in Colorado’s transportation network,” he told the 800 people who packed Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay ballroom for the tradeshow’s opening breakfast.

“What if every state in the nation becomes a home for safe, fun cycling? The potential spike in international bike tourism is worth the effort,” he said, “let alone its power to grow business, attract talent, increase property values, reduce healthcare costs and lighten our environmental footprint.”

The early details of the plan include:

  • $10 million over four years to sustain and grow the Safe Routes to Schools program.
  • $60 million over four years to develop bike and pedestrian infrastructure, using CDOT funds with money from the federal Transportation Alternatives and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement programs.
  • $30 million over four years of GOCO grants for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
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    The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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