Spoke Talk: Routt County’s bicycle advocacy group launches summer column | SteamboatToday.com

Spoke Talk: Routt County’s bicycle advocacy group launches summer column

Wendy Tucciarone/For the Steamboat Today

Steamboat cyclists take note: A bicycle advocacy group exists right here in Routt County.

Routt County Riders began in the early 1990s as a group of mountain bikers interested in building and maintaining trails. In the early 2000s, local road cyclists asked for representation to advocate for safer roads. As interest and membership grew, RCR supported programs for youth cycling, community cycling initiatives and mountain and road cycling events.

Today, RCR is a volunteer-based, membership-driven nonprofit organization and an International Mountain Bicycling Association chapter that represents all variations of cycling.

RCR's goals are to advocate, educate and collaborate. We advocate for improved amenities that benefit cyclists. RCR helps land managers maintain existing amenities and construct new amenities; reduces maintenance and construction costs by utilizing in-kind support and volunteer labor; and works to match available funds with other federal, state, local and private money.

We educate members of and visitors to our community. RCR equips cyclists with bike safety knowledge; educates cyclists through interpretive maps, signs and articles; and educates land managers about ways to include the needs of cyclists in capital projects.

We collaborate. RCR recognizes the need for and advantages of collaboration within the community, with other users and land managers to work toward common goals.

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How do we aim to achieve our goals? RCR has identified a few key programs on which to focus:

Wayfinding: By assisting with mapping and signage projects, RCR helps provide a more enjoyable, safer experience by showing preferred routes and trails that minimize user conflict. Stay tuned for exciting developments in streamlined mapping and signage this summer.

Trail counters: RCR's data collection quantifies trail users by type of user as well as which trails are most/least used and when. Tracking shows which trails see more use and thus should receive priority maintenance. Data also shows areas that have higher likelihood of user conflict, which provides RCR an opportunity to educate on ways to avoid conflict.

Trail maintenance and construction and road amenities: By maintaining existing trails and constructing new trails, RCR provides more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. This also improves the relationship between cyclists and land managers, which in turn can provide more land use opportunities. RCR works with public and private land managers to provide port-o-lets on popular road bicycling routes, eliminating riders' needs to trespass onto private lands for relief.

Throughout the summer, Spoke Talk will address a variety of topics, including safety issues, bike etiquette, community events, trail openings and closures. Tune in next week for a lesson in — or simply a reminder of — road bike safety and etiquette.

Steamboat Springs is a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community — one of only 18 cities nationwide with that designation — and an IMBA designated Bronze Level Ride Center, the only Ride Center in Colorado.

This summer launches a new decade of great strides for cycling in Steamboat Springs. RCR is honored to be a part of and represent our cycle-crazy community. For information on joining RCR, visit http://www.routtcountyriders.org.

Wendy Tucciarone is a Routt County Riders member, volunteer and the club's administrator.

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