Josh Bolinger: Boulder’s Impressive Culture
I had the opportunity to spend some time in Boulder not too long ago, and I was just blown away. You spend some time in that city, and you come away very impressed with how it is set up and run.
It’s a deep and pervading sense of design and thought, you can see it is the product of a larger culture. It’s too consistent to be just a fluke. In a lot of cities, you go into areas that have been redeveloped, and you can see an area that is planned and built intelligently, but it is often confined to a district, or a zone, and the rest of the city is just sort of the normal American city you’re used to seeing. With Boulder, it’s everywhere.
The city is set up so you can walk or bike to pretty much anything you’re looking for (there are more bikes in the city than there are people). The town is very health-oriented, and the large network of walk and cycle paths, as well as the availability of bikes through the B-Cycle system, make it a place where people who want to do without cars have a lot of options.
Getting into town and shucking off your car is also made into a simple and pleasant process. The city runs and operates the parking garages, which are mostly hidden, clean, safe, and reasonably priced. And the revenue goes directly to the city, which not only keeps the prices low, but also helps keep taxes lower. The city has priority parking for electric vehicles, and even solar powered parking meters.
This is an urban culture arranged entirely around the outdoors. I saw parks that use rock formations as part of a jungle gym, parking lots that have pieces of the forest still running through them, landscaping and architecture designed to play off the backdrop of the mountains. Boulder’s parks are a marvel of design and green thinking. The public restrooms all use a waterless urinal system that saves thousands of gallons a year.
And you see it in private business, too. Eco-friendly facilities, buildings that harmonize with their surroundings, it’s an entire economy all working together to make a beautiful place to live.
They set a high standard, and there’s a lot to be learned from it.