Many locals, visitors leave cars behind for the holiday

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— With bicycles covered in red and white streamers and cars festooned with American flags, downtown Steamboat Springs became a snarl of early morning traffic Friday as parade-goers staked their claim on curbside seats for the annual Fourth of July festivities.

The Stock Bridge Transit center had a few cars before the parade began, but bicycling on the Yampa River Core Trail seemed to be the favorite - and probably the fastest - non-motorized way to get downtown.

Mike Repine, from Golden, biked downtown from the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel with three children and four adults. As they dismounted, leaving a pile of bicycles and helmets in the middle of Eighth Street near Lincoln Avenue, he said he was glad the group brought their bikes along on the vacation and were able to avoid the traffic.

"It's a piece of cake," he said. "We went down to the pancake feed early this morning and just rode over here now."

Repine's crew had to stash their bicycles in the street because all available parking - from the bicycle racks to the street signs - on that side of the road, next to the parade and near the Core Trail, was filled. On that corner alone there were more than two dozen bicycles.

Not everyone needed a bicycle to get a good parking place, however. Chris Brookshire and her husband, Troy, were sitting in lawn chairs in the back of their pickup on Ninth Street between Lincoln Avenue and Yampa Street. She said the couple arrived at 8:30 that morning to claim the prime parking place, but even that early they ran into traffic.

"It was unbelievable the traffic on the west side this morning. It was just stopped," she said.

With Lincoln Avenue and Yampa Street blocked off for the parade, and pedestrians crossing at nearly every corner of Oak Street, traffic was at a standstill for 10 minutes at a stretch just before the parade, and many families arrived at the parade late.

But an hour after the Pioneer Day Block Party at Tread of Pioneers Museum drew to a close and families migrated to the ski jumping on Howelsen Hill, almost all of the bicycles and cars had cleared out of downtown - just in time to be packed in again that evening for the fireworks show.

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