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A tale of bikes and bridges

John Simmons | Feb 05, 2018

Kiwanis members help a young cyclist.

In the fall of 2017, the renovation of the aging Grand Avenue Bridge was a big project that was about to cause big headaches for the people of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  

The bridge, offering passage for four lanes of traffic, was soon to be demolished and replaced by a two-lane detour route. The construction process would take three long months. City planners were about to have a major, long-term traffic problem on their hands. 

“And they knew it,” stresses Sheryl Doll, president of the Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club.

To ease congestion on the detour, up to 35 percent of Glenwood Springs' commuters would need to use other forms of transportation during rush hour—and that’s where Kiwanis stepped in to help.

The club already had a strong relationship with the city's schools, in part through its year-round programs promoting bicycle safety, including participating in bicycle safety fairs and distributing 400 bike helmets each year. Based on this history, the club approached the chief operating officer of the Roaring Fork School District and the Glenwood Springs city manager with a question: How can Kiwanis assist in lowering congestion on the detour and help parents, teachers and school staff keep their cars off the road? The city and schools answered: by purchasing bike racks for each school and promoting the safe use of cycling.

The Kiwanians quickly accepted the challenge and jumped into action. The club donated 26 bicycle racks to the city—23 to area schools and three to city parks. Each rack was personalized with a “Donated by Kiwanis Club” sign. The club also distributed 150 front-and-rear bike light sets to student riders in the district, with the city joining in to purchase another 150 sets.  For younger riders, Kiwanis volunteers installed the sets on their bikes. Total cost: US$20,000.  

The club then joined the city's Bicycle Ambassadors in hosting two October Bicycle Appreciation Days. Kiwanis volunteers braved the early morning cold to hand out grab-and-go fruit snacks and “I Beat the Detour” stickers to walkers, cyclists and transit riders on the detour.

Thanks to its efforts, the club was recognized as Glenwood Springs' Community Partner of the Year. In announcing the award, Brian Smith, director of Parks and Recreation, praised the club for proactively addressing the detour's peak-time traffic and implementing preventive actions.

“We received very strong feedback from the community about our efforts,” says John Stephens, the Club's president-elect.

In fact, he tells the story of a friend from another service club who seemed a bit envious of the publicity that Kiwanis received as a result of the Grand Avenue Bridge Project.  However, Stephens adds, the kudos were earned.

“We did a high-visibility project that met a real need in the community,” he says, “and we're on the lookout now for a similar project in the future. That's the way Kiwanis works.”

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