The city of Boulder, Colorado has long been known as one of the greenest cities in the United States. One of the keys to Boulder’s eco-friendly status is its transportation system. The city has successfully developed a multimodal transportation system that allows citizens and visitors to select a variety of transportation choices in which to navigate around the city.
In the late 1980’s the city council voted to improve transportation through a variety of transportation modes instead of new roads. Boulder has been able to take advantage of a rather well designed road system, integration of bike lanes and walking paths, as well as bus transit to reduce the need for cars and especially single-occupant vehicles.
There are several factors that have contributed to Boulders transportation success.
- The University of Colorado’s student population is more prone to alternative forms of transportation and the city is able to coordinate transportation with the university to offer viable options for students and faculty. Additionally, Boulder is the home for a number of eco-friendly companies and institutions who favor alternative transportation.
- Growth limitations. Because Boulder city planners established boundaries and limits to growth around the city in the 1960’s, most of the growth is infill. The city takes up approximately 25 miles which means that most destinations are within a 5 mile radius making alternative transportation possible.
- Planning and funding: The city adopted its first Master Transportation Plan (MTP) in 1989 and set a goal for reducing single-occupancy vehicle miles traveled (VMT) to 25% by the year 2025. Boulder’s transportation budget is approximately $20 million and it designates specific funds to offer direct routes and highly efficient and attractive buses, as well as the GO Boulder campaign which incentivizes residents to participate in multimodal transportation.
Today, Boulder has over 100 miles of multiuse pathways with 74 underpasses allowing uninterrupted travel through much of town. Since 1989, the city has added to the system each year, on average, one mile of off-street path, half a mile of on-street bicycle lanes, and two underpasses. Ninety-five percent of major arterials have bicycle lanes or adjacent pathways. The off-street system is complemented by an additional 200 miles of dedicated on-street facilities that include bicycle lanes, signed routes and bikable shoulders. Bicycle paths and bicycle lanes have equal priority with the city’s major street system for maintenance and snow control.
Transportation Master Plan: http://www.bouldercolorado.gov/index.php
City of Boulder Transportation Metrics, Spring 2008: