Bicycling bills introduced in Denver

Bicycles may be spinning their way deeper into Colorado law. Two bills to improve opportunities for cyclists were among the 95 filed on the opening day of 2011 Colorado’s legislative session.  

State Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, has introduced the Open Roads Act.  The goal of the bill is to provide Colorado citizens and visitors the ability to pedal to work, school, stores and for recreation without restrictions on public streets.

“Banning bicycle travel on every street in a community penalizes people that choose healthy, affordable, pollution-free transportation,” Kerr said.

The Open Roads Act clarifies state law so that freedom to travel is ensured.  It states that local authorities may prohibit bicycle travel in limited cases but only if a nearby alternative route is designated.

Bill co-sponsor Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, added, “People traveling in Colorado by bicycle shouldn’t be turned back by ‘Road Closed’ signs at every entrance to a community. Americans should have the freedom to travel.”

Cycling was recently banned on every through-street in the casino town of Blackhawk and no alternate routes were provided. In the case of Blackhawk, the nearest paved detour takes riders 55 miles out of the way.

Brophy also introduced the Colorado Mountain Bike Safety Act, which would assist landowners who want to build singletrack on their property. The Act would release landowners from liability for injuries caused by the inherent risks of mountain biking. Brophy said that he hopes the bill will further spur tourism and healthy recreation all over Colorado.

“I hear from landowners around the state who want to open trails but are concerned about liability and insurance,” he said. “This bill protects them while providing more opportunities for people to get outdoors and enjoy all that Colorado has to offer.”

Kerr is also a co-sponsor of the Mountain Bike Safety Act and noted that Colorado is the top state for mountain bike tourism and the sport is a big part of Colorado’s $10 billion recreation economy. “Mountain biking is a gateway sport that connects children and adults with nature,” he said. “Having trail options open to people benefits us all.”

Whether the bills pass legislative muster will be determined in coming weeks and months.


EPA misses Clean Air Act deadline

A variety of groups are working to hold the Environmental Protection Agency’s feet to the Clean Air Act coals. Jan. 15 was supposed to be a landmark date for the agency, but it came and went without new state or federal plans to reduce haze and air pollution in national parks and wilderness areas. Ten groups are now threatening to sue the EPA for its failure to meet its own deadline.

Haze, largely a result of nitrogen oxide, has been particularly problematic for the Four Corners region. Visibility has been greatly impaired in national parks like Mesa Verde and Canyonlands because of emissions from the region’s three power plants.

“This is about protecting what are really the bellwethers of our clean air here in the Rocky Mountain West,” said Jeremy Nichols, of WildEarth Guardians. “What we’re seeing is degraded air quality. The visibility is twice as bad as what it should be.”

In Colorado, a bi-partisan group has come up with a plan to reduce haze in Rocky Mountain National Park, and Xcel Energy has agreed to close several coal-fired plants. Filing intents to sue the EPA was a last resort for places like the Four Corners, according to Sean Smith, of the National Parks Conservation Association. He noted that groups have waited on the agency to come up with plans for reducing haze for years.  

“Back in 2007, 11 states finished their plans, but the EPA failed to certify those,” he said. “For the remaining states, the EPA set a deadline of Jan. 15, saying, ‘You need to have your plans in by

then, otherwise we will implement a national plan.’ They haven’t done either of those things.”

Nichols concluded by citing a recent analysis by the EPA, which found that every dollar spent retrofitting dated power plants would result in $5 in public health and environmental benefits.

“It’s about keeping our back yard clean, but it’s also about ensuring that we’re not letting our garbage affect our neighbor’s back yard,” he said. “It’s equally important for New Mexico, Utah and Arizona to clean up their pollution.

Colorado ski season off to stellar start

The 2010-11 ski season is off to a banner start. Last week, Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) announced that its 22 member resorts reported a major increase in skier visitation for the beginning of the season over last season. Skier visits were up by an impressive 10 percent between opening day - Dec. 31.

“Consistent snow and reliable conditions contributed to a very positive start to the season,” said Melanie Mills, president & CEO of CSCUSA. “There is a lot of ski season left, but we’ve set a good pace, have great snow conditions and hope the momentum continues.”

Abundant early season snow across much of the state allowed many resorts to open with more terrain than usual. This abundance and continued snowfall helped drive holiday visitation.

“When our resorts are busy over the holidays it says a lot about the Colorado brand,” Mills said. “And while snow is a key factor in skier visitation, we also account for our resorts top-notch service and popular programs and events.”

Bob Allen appointed to head BID

Downtown business has a new spearhead. Bob Allen, owner/principal of Allen & Associates, has taken over as the presiding officer of the Durango Business Improvement District, the organization that works to sustain and enhance business in Downtown Durango and along N. Main Avenue.

“I look forward to the coming year with the Business Improvement District,” said Allen. “We, as a board, are anxious to respond in whatever way we can to concerns and issues raised through our 2010 constituent survey, including parking, marketing and shop-local campaigns.”

Allen established Allen & Associates in Durango in 1989 and is currently one of the top commercial appraisers in the region. He is also a community resource for real estate and economic information, maintaining what is arguably the most comprehensive real estate database in the county. Allen will assume the presiding officer position from John Wells.

– Will Sands





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