BikeDenver gets largest single donation in group's history

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More and more cyclists are riding in Denver. So it's good timing that the city's main cycling advocacy organization -- one working to make the streets safer for bikes -- has just received the largest single donation in the group's history.

BikeDenver, , a local nonprofit group that was founded in 2001, announced today that the Coldwell Banker Denver Century Ride has raised $14,590 for the organization -- the largest chunk of money ever donated from one source.

The announcement comes at a time when the work of bike advocates has become increasingly important. As we reported earlier this summer, 2012 is on track to be the worst year for cycling accidents in Denver with 228 accidents through July 8th. That nearly matches the accident total in all of 2011. And last month, a hit-and-run accident that killed a cyclist brought these concerns to the forefront for local bike enthusiasts.

"We work to change or improve policy, practice or law that makes Denver a safer place to ride a bike," says Piep van Heuven, executive director of BikeDenver. "Donations to BikeDenver help to fund advocacy and community engagement efforts."

This latest donation, van Heuven says, is worth a month-and-a-half of operating expenses for the organization. "That's extraordinarily significant.... What it means for us is we can spend less time fundraising and more time advocating."

BikeDenver focuses on specific policy initiatives, as well as broader education efforts to encourage more folks to ride bikes and help people understand the rules of the road. "We believe that living in a bike-friendly community benefits all of our neighborhoods," van Heuven says.

Recently, for example, the organization has been pushing for a bicycle-pedestrian bridge at 1-25 and Colorado Boulevard.

Coldwell Banker is the title sponsor of Denver Century Ride, an event that took place in June, with $10 of every long-distance registration going to BikeDenver.

This year, 1,459 registered for the long distance rides, and attendance was 55 percent higher than 2011. This is the third year for the Century Ride, which is organized by Creative Strategies Group and was founded by Chris Mygatt, president and COO of Coldwell Banker's Residential Brokerage, Colorado, and Todd Moir, the marketing director of the company.

"This is a hugely important statement that Coldwell Banker is making about the importance of creating bike-friendly neighborhoods," van Heuven says. "It...encourages other organizations to invest in their communities in the same way."

Mygatt says that he expects that next year the ride will ride $30,000 for BikeDenver, since organizers hope to have up to 3,000 cyclists participate.

The donations, he says, "are part of the registration fee that we've set aside because it's the right thing to do."

In Mygatt's view, BikeDenver fills a need in the city for a strong group dedicated to cycling advocacy.

"If you look at the per capita participation in cycling, the reality is, we have a very, very high concentration of cyclists in Denver," he says. "At the same time, Denver is a large, vibrant city and...[we need] someone out there everyday looking at ways to make the city of Denver better for cyclists."

He says the organization is especially strong when it comes to education, which is key in stopping tragic accidents from happening.

BikeDenver, Mygatt says, "makes sure on the ground level things are being done to make cycling safer [and] to make cycling more accessible and quite frankly more enjoyable for more people."

More from our Environment archive: "GetOutt.com offers smartphone solution to Denver's bike-theft problem"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.

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