Steamboat Springs Moots Cycles President Rob Mitchell told the City Council on Tuesday that Steamboat Springs always has struggled with its identity after ski season ends.
Speaking on behalf of the Bike Town USA Initiative, Mitchell said biking presents an opportunity to change that.
“Simply, skiing and biking is what Steamboat becomes,” he said. “That’s the marketing. That’s the focus. That’s what you need to do to build a leading brand.”
Mitchell’s presentation introduced the Community Cycling Plan, which outlines the movement to make Steamboat a summer biking hub. Specifically, the plan identifies existing infrastructure, future opportunities and an approach to achieve results to benefit Steamboat economically.
City Council members supported the plan in a 6-0 vote; council member Meg Bentley was absent. They also approved nearly $50,000 in requests for Bike Town USA-related initiatives. That brought what the City Council has approved related to Bike Town USA to more than $2.1 million in the past 12 months.
“In business, you talk about having an unfair advantage,” City Council member Bart Kounovsky said. “I think this is going to be our unfair advantage in the summertime. I think we need to continue to support this at the council level.”
City Council member Kenny Reisman said he liked that many Bike Town USA initiatives improved the experience not only for Steamboat’s visitors, but also for residents. But he said it comes with a price.
Mitchell said the time was right to continue investing in cycling efforts.
“There’s clearly an opportunity here that first and foremost makes it a more desirable and special place for us to call home, position Steamboat around economic development opportunities and bring visitors to Steamboat for years to come,” he said.
The City Council delayed action until the June 21 meeting on a $103,000 request to add bike lanes and signage on streets.
City Manager Jon Roberts said the bike lanes and signage would help improve connectivity from Steamboat Ski Area to downtown before the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Millennium Promise. He said that event could attract 20,000 visitors.
“We don’t want anyone to leave this community with a negative impression of the connectivity between the ski mountain and downtown,” Roberts said.
Many council members said they needed specifics about how that money would be spent, which weren’t provided Tuesday, before considering the request.
Also Tuesday, the City Council voted 5-1 to support the Bike Town USA mural planned for the exterior east-facing wall of Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare. Council member Jon Quinn opposed the motion.
The City Council asked whether alternative sites were considered. Muralist Chula Beauregard said yes, but the Ski & Bike Kare wall was the best because it already has lighting, is flat without windows, isn’t obstructed by trees and is located on the second floor, which would protect the mural from graffiti.
Several City Council members expressed concern about the mural being associated with the business. City Council President Cari Hermacinski said she could support the mural if the owner agreed to not put a Ski & Bike Kare sign beneath it in the future. Store co-owner Harry Martin quickly agreed to the condition.
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com