AURORA | Bike advocacy group People for Bikes rated Aurora 81st out of 104 large cities for its ease and safety of biking.
The Boulder-based organization advocates for improving biking access and making biking safer and more inclusive. The group has rated over 600 cities in the U.S. and over 100 overseas to rate which are the best for cyclists (unsurprisingly, Boulder was ranked one of the top 10 in the U.S.).
Aurora’s rating wasn’t quite as stellar, and according to metrics is very close to the average for a large city. The city has a low “network score,” meaning that biking access to shopping centers, transit hubs and other essentials was deemed low.
It fared slightly better in the “community score,” which considers how safe people feel riding a bike, how often people bike in the city, how familiar people are with the city’s biking resources and how well a city’s bike network connects people.
To become more biking-friendly, People for Bikes recommends cities lower speed limits, build more protected bike lanes and make more bike networks and connect them to public transportation.
Tom Tobiassen, president of cycling club Bicycle Aurora, said that in his estimation the rating is slightly out of date. The city has invested $22 million in cycling infrastructure in the past five years, he said, including adding more protected bike lanes.
“That’s a pretty major improvement,” he said.
Aurora saw a surge in cycling interest during the pandemic, with local bike store owners telling the Sentinel their shops were packed during lockdown with people eager for a COVID-safe way to travel and exercise. Now that the pandemic is waning, Tobiassen said there’s still a lot of enthusiasm for biking.
He’s particularly seeing an increase in interest for electric bikes (e-bikes), which have improved over the years as battery technology gets better. He believes e-bikes will be a “game changer” for cycling as demand increases.
“Technology is going to be driving a lot of the needs for improved bike infrastructure around the city,” he said. “That’s exciting.”
— CARINA JULIG, SENTINEL STAFF WRITER