A census report released this week shows that more than 10 percent of Boulder's work force commutes on two wheels, while the rest of the nation bikes to work just 0.6 percent of the time.
The figures came from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, which took numbers from 2008 through 2012. The results show that, among the roughly 52,000 workers in Boulder, transportation modes other than driving are quite common: 10.5 percent biked, 9.2 percent walked and 8.9 percent took public transit.
Of the 88 percent of people who did not work out of their homes, the average one-way commute time was roughly 19 minutes.
That Boulder bikes to work more than 17 times as often as the rest of America is a testament to more than the city's overall fitness, local experts say.
"High bicycling rates don't just happen by themselves," said Kate Powlison, spokeswoman for the national advocacy organization People For Bikes, based in downtown Boulder. "This city has really invested for decades in building streets that work for everyone, not just for people in cars."
In 1977, Boulder held one of the country's first Bike to Work days. In 1989, the city adopted its first transportation master plan, which laid a foundation of policy for a balanced transportation system, with many more options than simply driving alone.
Marni Ratzel, senior transportation planner for the city, said the "steady and consistent" pace at which Boulder has worked to foster its biking culture is largely thanks to the openness of the local populace to alternative modes of travel.
"People who are here are very interested in a high quality of life and are willing to participate in the public engagement process to articulate and recognize that a walkable, bike-able community — and a transportation system that provides facilities that are safe and convenient and appealing — is how they'd like to see the city built," she said.
Ratzel added that Boulder's business climate "is part and parcel to why the city is progressive with regards to transportation options."
Rachel Scott of the Pearl Street tech firm Quick Left certainly agrees. She said it sometimes feels as though an interest in cycling is almost an unofficial requirement of working there.
"We all challenge each other," she said. "Plus, working in downtown Boulder, it's really faster for most of us to bike."
Quick Left employees often go on group rides on Thursday nights, and the company encourages physical activity by offering an indoor makeshift bike "parking lot," plus a $400 annual stipend for employees to use on anything from gym memberships to bike tubes.
Quick Left has also organized the Startup Strava Challenge for this month, bringing together 20 local tech companies to compete to see who can bike and run the most miles. The winning company will have about $1,000 to donate to a charity of its choosing.
Wendy Devine, business manager at Boulder online marketing agency Parallel Path, called her staff "very cycling oriented."
"It's just our nature," she said. "Really, I think it's the whole city. The location and the beauty of it are just attractive to the athletic, the active. It's easier to get around on bikes here, with the way the city lends itself so well to them."
And for some Boulder residents, it doesn't have to end with biking to and from work.
"I do it at work, too," Scott said. "I do more meetings on a bicycle than I do in a conference room. We talk about web apps, development, private equity. I think people are much more likely to do business with a friend than with someone they never get to actually see, and it's a healthier alternative than trying to do a happy hour."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Alex Burness at 303-473-1389 or email@example.com.