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Colorado is about to rapidly expand its transmission network. Should it double as a bike highway system?

Fresh snow, the green grass of spring, and a bicycle rider on the Cherry Creek Trail in downtown Denver Wednesday April 10, 2019. Colorado’s many…

Thursday, Mar 17

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Fresh snow, the green grass of spring, and a bicycle rider on the Cherry Creek Trail in downtown Denver Wednesday April 10, 2019. Colorado’s many planned power lines have caught the attention of bicycle advocates.

Over the next few years, power utilities are set to build hundreds of miles of new transmissions lines to assist the transition to renewable energy. The planned routes will link metro Denver with far-flung communities, often steering clear of busy roads.

Piep van Heuven, a lobbyist with Bicycle Colorado, sees the build-out as a unique opportunity to add new "power line trails" across the state. Her organization is now helping push state legislation to require utility companies to suggest the idea to local governments, which she said has already proven successful in Fort Collins and Douglas County.

"It’s challenging to find new areas for trails and trail systems," van Heuven told lawmakers on a Senate committee Tuesday.

The Senate transportation and environment committee passed the bill on a party-line vote with Democrats in favor Tuesday. The legislation has already been approved in the Colorado House. Without further amendments, it would head to the governor’s desk with the approval of the full state Senate.

If signed, the bill would explicitly allow electric companies to enter into contracts with communities or private landowners to build new trails beneath power lines for cyclists and hikers. Those companies would also be required to compile educational materials about the benefits of power line trails. When a proposed transmission project crosses a community, the power […]

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