They’re over there.
Maybe not every day, but as many days as time and weather permit, bike commuters take to the cobbled paths and dirt roads of Glenwood Springs.
It has a lot to do with doing what they can to reduce their carbon footprint, not just on Earth Day, but as often as possible throughout the year.
There are also social benefits.
“I ride every day, or at least every day I don’t have errands to drive,” said Watkins Fulk-Gray, one of several Glenwood Springs city workers who regularly commute. to work by bike.
He regularly bikes from his house near 27th Street to City Hall.
“I do it to help reduce carbon emissions, but also because I get a little angry at the wheel when I drive,” Fulk-Gray admitted. “I also feel like I have more energy after riding to work…and, honestly, it’s as quick to cycle around Glenwood as it is to drive.”
The bike-to-work movement gained major momentum in Glenwood Springs in late summer and fall 2017 when the Grand Avenue Bridge construction detour was in place.
While interest waned a bit after the new bridge was completed, it seemed to pick up during the pandemic.
And, with the growing popularity of electric pedal assist or e-bikes, cycling around town or even between towns in the Roaring Fork Valley has become a culture in its own right.
City of Glenwood Springs transit planner Linda DuPriest said she has been cycling to work since the 1980s.
“In the various cities where I’ve lived and worked, I’ve done it for exercise and just because it made sense to me,” she said. “That seems fair to me, and especially since I have been planning cycling and pedestrian infrastructure for 25 or 30 years now.”
Glenwood Springs has what DuPriest calls a “good backbone” for bicycle travel, with the Rio Grande Trail running through downtown and good connections from the Midland Avenue side of the Roaring Fork River and into West Glenwood.
“But we also have critical safety gaps in our bike network that we’re working on,” she said. “We recognize that these things will sometimes turn people off.”
DuPriest identifies three different types of people when it comes to commuting by bike.
There are the “strong and fearless” who will shuttle through all kinds of conditions, no matter what.
There are the “no way, no how” types who will probably never try.
“And then you have the 50% or 60% in the middle – those are the ones we would like to convert,” DuPriest said.
Advantages of bicycles
Two other Glenwood Springs Community Development Department employees, Emery Ellingson and Carlos Peugnet, are also regular bike commuters.
Ellingson travels the Rio Grande to Glenwood from his home in Carbondale at least once or twice a week, he said.
“It’s just a really good start to the day, and it’s a great ride,” he said. “I like having this separation between when I’m at work and when I’m at home. It takes longer, but I’ve found the separation is important to me. I just feel more relaxed when I get to work and again when I get home.
Peugnet rides his e-bike or scooter to City Hall from his home in West Glenwood almost every day.
“I’m concerned about our carbon footprint,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if we have 6 inches of snow in the way, I have a fat bike that is designed just for that.”
Peugnet agreed that he felt more energized at the start and end of the day when he cycled to work.
“You get to look around and really enjoy the beautiful place we live in, and it costs me nothing compared to my truck, which gets about 12 to 13 miles per gallon,” he said. declared.
On the days he decides to ride his scooter, he gets around 130 miles per gallon.
“So, yes, I’m environmentally conscious, but I’m also conscious of my wallet and I don’t spend as much money on gasoline,” he said.
Several Colorado Mountain College employees also frequently cycle to work. Among them is Jeffrey Buchman, who travels from Park West in south Glenwood to the CMC Central Services building downtown.
“As someone who doesn’t like mornings, cycling trips give me the opportunity to get some exercise before I start work, which helps me wake up before I get to the office” , Buchman said. “As an accountant, I also appreciate the money saving aspect and the reduced wear and tear on my car.”
Then there’s the reality of climate change before our eyes with dwindling winter snowfall, year-round wildfires and smoky skies in the summer, he said.
“Committing by bike is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint without drastically changing your routine, and thanks to the great bike paths available, my bike commute isn’t noticeably longer than it takes to drive,” Buchman said.
Seth Anderson works with the Isaacson School on CMC’s Spring Valley campus. He lives about 4.5 miles from the Spring Valley campus and says he bikes to campus most days.
“It’s the best ride in the world,” he said. “I have an hour a day to watch our beautiful Mount Sopris, herds of prancing deer and heavy elk, and just to be outside and unplugged.
“My commute is probably the biggest savior for my mental health, and it’s not bad for my physical health either.”
Although he admits it would be difficult to convince most people who work on campus but live deep in the valley to get around by bike, Anderson said he hopes to set a good example for his 5-year-old daughter. years.
“It’s important to help her understand how a small change has a big impact, and that it can be a lot of fun at the same time,” he said.
Peugnet has a similar message when it comes to encouraging others to try bike commuting.
“You don’t have to be a world-class athlete to get on a bike and contribute,” he said, noting that a colleague was so impressed with his scooter that she bought one like his.
“Now she’s going to help reduce that carbon footprint,” Peugnet said. “And it feels good to know that you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy a bike.”
Colorado and National Bike to Work Day will be celebrated June 22, with special events along the Rio Grande Trail and other points around Glenwood Springs and other valley towns sponsored by Glenwood Bicycle Advocates and Clean Energy Economy for the Region.
But that doesn’t mean you have to wait until then to try the bike to work.
Senior Reporter/Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or [email protected]