I was poking around online the other night and came across the Colorado Bicycle & Byways map. I think it’s pretty awesome. I know a lot of these roads and have cycled more than a few of them, and so I can say with some certainty that it’s a pretty good map. You could navigate around town or across the state with it and you’d probably be better off than if you hadn’t used it.
The map is the work of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and it shows things like daily traffic counts, percentage of truck traffic, shoulder width and more. It also shows trails and sidepaths, both paved and unpaved. It’s interactive, so you can add or remove components based on your own personal needs.
These are all things that are of interest and importance to me when picking a route. Knowing the options that are available makes it possible to plan routes that eliminate potentially unsafe conditions.
I’ve spent most of my time so far looking at Grand Junction and Fruita on this map. I cycled these roads just a few weeks ago in Tour of the Moon so they’re fresh in my mind. It shows, for example that Colorado State Highway 340 is relatively lightly traveled from about five miles west of Grand Junction through Fruita. Shoulders are intermittent. It also shows an easy alternative route around the high traffic area. The alternative has on street bike lanes. It’s all very intuitive, and you wouldn’t know any of this from looking at a traditional road map.
It’s also pretty accurate, at least as far as the roads I traveled. Before the Tour, I had concerns about CO 340 but they were largely unfounded. It was a safe and easy road to cycle along. Knowing this, I’d be inclined to ride from Pueblo into the Beulah Valley the next time we head to Colorado’s steel city to visit family. I just assumed CO 78 wouldn’t be good for cycling when, in fact, it is lightly traveled and has shoulders along its entire length.
This map is a great resource. Colorado has a Department of Transportation that is truly multimodal in their approach to human mobility. It’s not just about motor vehicles. This is ahead of the curve. I don’t know if other states have something similar or not, but I hope so. I also hope that those states that don’t go to this sort of model soon. It will save lives and encourage more people to cycle not only around town, but around the state as well.