Some Reasons Why Boulder Is Not a Bicycle Heaven Like Utrecht in The Netherlands


By Dom Nozzi

July 17, 2019

A champion of NIMBYism on the Boulder City Council had a citizen send her a YouTube video about Utrecht, a city Maggie and I recently visited and LOVED, and her comment was that “I had the good fortune to visit Utrecht over the Christmas holidays and see the ongoing efforts and results. Where did they get the money to build it?”

One thought I have in response to her comment is if you enjoyed Utrecht so much, why do you spend much of your time fighting against every step Boulder wants to take in that direction???

I then posted this on the FB wall below her comment:

Boulder is far more wealthy than Utrecht. Over the past few decades, the City of Boulder has squandered millions of dollars (often matching fed and state dollars) to overdesign roads to convenience cars, speed up cars, and encourage motorists to drive inattentively. The result of those millions spent is that our transportation system is now far less safe, far less multi-modal (ie, it is much more of a car-only system), and far less likely to induce the compact, walkable land use patterns that the City master plan calls for. Perhaps the biggest strategic mistake that Boulder and its citizens have made over the years is to counterproductively try to reduce congestion on roads and parking lots by increasing the capacity of those free-to-use facilities. By ruinously equating congestion reduction with quality of life, Boulder has ironically undermined a great many objectives. Such efforts have ironically given us more traffic crashes, more per capita car travel, more air emissions, more noise pollution, more strip commercial, more low-density sprawl, more sign pollution, more ugly buildings and infrastructure, more “heat island” woes, more fuel consumption, a transportation budget that is always requiring the City to push for more transportation tax revenue, and more speeding.

In sum, a quality of life that is degraded on many fronts.

Oh, and by the way, we have done nothing to reduce congestion after all those millions to try to reduce congestion. Oops.

Until Boulder escapes from the ruinous, aggressive efforts to reduce congestion, it will never make progress in moving toward better conditions for each of the many objectives I mention above.

On the same day, a survey went out asking Boulder citizens what they thought about lowering traffic speeds on city roads. Here is my response:

Boulder needs to revise the street design of streets all over town to obligate motorists to drive slower and more attentively. Shame on Boulder for spending the past century using “Forgiving Street Design” to encourage excessive speeds and inattentive driving. Unless Boulder redesigns stroads such as Broadway, Canyon, and Arapahoe (among many other roads too numerous to list here), Vision Zero will be nothing more than lip service for better traffic safety. After a century of Forgiving Street Design, as well as more Warning Signs, Warning Lights, Warning Paint, Warning Education, and Warning Enforcement, isn’t it time to use effective safety and speed tools such as street design?

Boulder needs to show way more leadership on these issues.

And stop being our own worst enemies.

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