The Blog

Friday, May 21, 2010

What Boulder is doing

The Green Riders and Colorado Governor Ritter!   

We actually slept in until about 8 before heading off to Boulder to visit with Chris Hagelin and others who work for the City of Boulder.
We met at the Dushanbe Teahouse which is where we had dinner with Elliot the night before.  The teahouse was a gift to the City of Boulder from somewhere in Asia and Boulder sent them an internet cafe. It's a wonderful place with great food.
After lunch we rode around Boulder a bit with two other City employees.  We learned about how the many miles of bike trails along the creeks were funded with a combination of flood control money and local money dedicated to improving bike routes.  The results are spectacular.  The creeks are beautiful, the trails are well used and flood control is accomplished as well.  Boulder is rightfully proud of their system of trails that also includes lots of very comfortable bike lanes on surface streets.  Their premier bike lane is called the "contra-flow" lane.  They took a two way street and made it one-way with bikes having priority in the traffic lane.  Then they planted a berm that divides the one way car lane from a dedicated bike lane that goes the other direction.  It works great and it gives priority to bicycles over cars.  It also crosses the main downtown mall area giving easy access to bicyclists so that they won't be tempted to drive into central Boulder.
After getting video of what I just described (to be posted soon), we rode about 6 miles out of Boulder to the Water Treatment Plant.  Most of the ride was along Boulder Creek and it was beautiful.  The Water Treatment Plant has a 1 megawatt solar array that is about to be turned on and we also learned about water rights issues, solid waste disposal and methane production for the creation of fuel provide some of the electrical needs of the plant.  The plant uses about 750 KW of power a year.  The solar will contribute about 250 KW and the methane already does contribute another 250 KW.  Apparently, the Water treatment plant is the largest consumer of electricity in the area and they want to get as much as they can without using coal fired electricity which is still the predominant form of electricity generation in the area.
There was so much more information that we got that I can't really remember but overall, Boulder is doing a great job of managing its traffic, supporting the use of bicycles and busses and dealing with their waste water in as positive a way as possible.  Our guides for the day were very gracious, curious and supportive of our adventure and seemed to really enjoy their work, largely because they know they are pushing the envelope when it comes to creating more sustainable communities.  Chris gets multiple calls every week from other municipalities who want to pick his brain about what Boulder is doing.  We hope to help spread the word that lots of what Boulder has already done can be replicated in other towns and cities for the benefit of creating more livable, sustainable communities.
After visiting with cousin Jim, his wife Regina and their son Logan, we headed back through ridiculous rush hour traffic to Denver.  We rushed over to an evening event where we got a chance to listen to Governor Ritter talk about the advances that Colorado is making as a serious adopter of renewable energy.
David Orr also spoke and the featured guest was Lester Brown who depressed us a bit about the state of the world and offered hope about humans ability to save civilization.  As Lester Brown says:  "Saving Civilization is not a spectator sport!"  So we ride on tomorrow!!
Chris Hagelin enjoying the Dushanbe Teahouse

Our bicycle escorts - Ready to ride
Chris and Joe at the Water Treatment Plant - See the coal fired plant in the background
Solar array at the Water Treatment Plant- Ready to plug in
Joe - Wishing he could join us