Look up on the Boulder Creek or Goose Creek Shared Paths many mornings and you will see a tall, lean rider in purple working his way toward you. With his yellow debris pick-up bucket mounted to his bike, and proudly sporting his purple vest, Stephen is one of the most dedicated and visible first-year Shared Paths Stewards.

Stephen comes at this role from a lifelong interest in community foot and bike paths. He has biked most of the country and has spent much of his career in bicycle-commute mode when at home.Stephen feels called to care for the Shared Paths due to his recognition that Boulder’s high percentage of visitors—including daily commuters, seasonal visitors and students—dilutes the sense of public awareness and responsibility for this common good. There are lots of users and few owners and Stephen, like many of the Shared Paths Boulder Stewards, has discovered that it just feels good to go out there and demonstrate community ownership for our important facility.

Also, Stephen notes that the mixed use by pedestrians, runners, bikes and other personal machines creates a need for behavioral “conflict avoidance.” We have all speeds and styles of users on the Paths, and daily conflicts are inevitable. Stephen tells us, “As a Steward, you see it all, and once you are attuned to the flow of the users, it is actually easy to perform a soft intervention. ‘Hey, slow down for lots of kids on striders ahead!’ Anything we can do to help ear-bud-bearing racers see and slow for the more frail user groups goes a long way to mitigate conflict.”

Additionally . . . Stephen picks up litter and demonstrates that a little care goes a long way.  He also has mastered the art of identifying who needs a quick contact. By pulling up to groups looking befuddled to see where they want to go or assisting a group of women bike riders wrestling with a flat tire, Stephen exemplifies simple helpfulness while patrolling the paths.
We asked Stephen what he has seen in his tour of the paths that you feel we should all be aware of and to which we as community should pay attention? He recounted that on a recent tour of the paths he discussed bike path policy, reported to the city on contradictory path signs at the 29th and Boulder Creek blind corner, shared in observation of a large and confident wolf spider sunning on the path, discussed logistics with a transient who had his lawn chair across the path, had a pedestrian join him to pick up a big pile of trash, observed a local technician testing an avalanche beacon, and watched a young Cooper’s hawk try to figure out what to do with a snake it caught. You never know what you’ll run in to.


Stephen advises that we should all watch for transients occupying areas of the paths. A short friendly greeting and comment often helps maintain comfortable multi use on our wonderful path system.

After visiting every other year since the 1950s to visit relatives, Stephen finally moved to Boulder in 1974 to raise a family.  Stephen and Ruth raised 3 children, conducted satisfying careers and settled into the rhythm of community work and outdoor time, balanced with interesting travel.

Shared Paths is lucky to have the attention and heart of Stephen Colby out caring for the paths on our behalf daily.