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Could a car-free, Dutch-style city work in Colorado?

The theoretical city would boast rock walls, ponds, and ski parks

Courtesy of b4place

Lovers of all things bike-related, a new city from scratch could be just for you: A Netherlands-based urban design firm has partnered with money blogger Pete Adeney to brainstorm a bike-friendly planned community in Colorado.

The proposed community would be located between Longmont and Boulder—about 30 minutes from Denver—and is currently known as Cyclocroft. According to Forbes, it’s the brainchild of Amsterdam-based B4place, a property development agency run by Americans Tara Ross and John Giusto.

Partner Pete Adeney is more commonly known as “Mr. Money Mustache,” and writer of a blog of the same name that proselytizes financial freedom through frugal living. Crucial to Adeney’s debt-free living is reduced car use, something he admires about European countries like The Netherlands.

While other planned communities like Sidewalk Lab’s smart city in Toronto have to manage the constraints of existing infrastructure, Adeney wants Cyclocroft to be built from scratch on a one-square-mile plot. Although currently a theoretical concept—or what B4place calls a “property experiment”—it will advocate “debt-free, light-weight living” for approximately 50,000 people.

That means no traditional city grid. Instead the plan uses Dutch easement and platting standards as a model, envisioning an 80-person-per acre average density that will feel far lower thanks to parks, public squares, and short distances to the countryside outside of town. Each street will prioritize cycling and pedestrians while parking lots will only be built at the edge of the city. Meanwhile, the center will consist of three to nine-story buildings of row houses, urban flats, micro-apartments, live-work spaces, and neighborhood retail.

A small district of mid to high-rise buildings would make up a mini-downtown, all with heights ranging from 10 to 40 stories. The plan floats innovative building materials—think mineral foam technology, 3D-printable walls, and cross-laminated timbers—and advocates for ADA accessibility through first-floor residences, ubiquitous ramps, chamfered curbs, and slow-speed streets. Other design features include dark-sky compliant lighting, underground utilities, and extensive use of gardens and terraces.

And while some might call the idea ambitiously unrealistic, Cyclocroft would also emphasize recreational opportunities and embrace Colorado’s sometimes snowy winters. A large pond makes for summer fishing and winter ice skating, hiking paths will ascend terraces and rooflines, and B4place says that innovative built-in rock climbing routes could go across building surfaces. More traditional spaces like pump tracts, skate parks, and playgrounds will come standard, while a dry ski slope and terrain park point to the state’s strong ties to the skiing.

Adeney told Forbes that some will deride Cyclocroft as a “high-tech hippie commune,” but he believes a people-first, eco-friendly-designed town is the city of the future.