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Archive of posts filed under the Bicycles category.

Bidirectional Bike Lanes

I just returned from a long holiday weekend in Montreal. It was my first time to that city and it was awesome. Montreal is nicely urban and dense with a great metro system, but it also felt very approachable and non-intimidating. Anyway, as is always the case, I come back from a trip like this with a ton of photos and examples to share of what other cities are doing that we could do here in Denver to improve our urban environment.

For our first example, let’s talk about bidirectional on-street bike lanes. In Denver, our major off-street bike trails, like along Cherry Creek or the Platte River, are bidirectional, but do we have anything in Denver like these examples below from Montreal?

Without curbs:

2010-09-08_montreal1 2010-09-08_montreal2

With curbs:

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The street in Montreal without curbs was a local residential street with very little traffic. The street with curbs was a bit more of a major neighborhood street, something similar to, say, E. 11th Avenue in Capitol Hill.

I saw many examples of this in Montreal; in fact, I think I saw more bidirectional on-street bike lanes than unidirectional lanes. They appear to treat bicycles as a true transportation mode worthy of its own system within the public right-of-way rather than as something you accommodate if there’s enough room on the street to paint a few lines without inconveniencing the motor vehicle system too much.

The Downtown Denver Partnership has recently asked the city to study the possibility of a bidirectional bike lane system on 15th Street in Downtown to connect Civic Center with LoDo. Where else do you think Denver should or could implement bidirectional bike lanes? What routes would bike commuters suggest? Where do you think the right-of-way width/configuration would allow for bidirectional lanes? Discuss.

By the way, the city is currently updating its bicycle and pedestrian master plans through an effort called Denver Moves. If you are interested in this issue and want to provide feedback to the city on this important topic, please get involved in Denver Moves. For more info, visit: http://denvermoves.org/


Denver B-Cycle Ready to Roll

On April 22, Denver launches B-Cycle, an ambitious bicycle-sharing program that will provide hundreds of bikes for rent at around 30 locations in the Downtown area and another dozen or so locations elsewhere in the city, such as Cherry Creek and the University of Denver.

Seeing the B-Cycle stations installed around Downtown over the past few weeks has been exciting. Here are two that I pass on my walk to work:

B-Cycle station at 16th & Platte B-Cycle station at 16th & Little Raven

As the B-Cycle website states, about 40% of all trips Americans take are less than two miles in length… perfect for a bicycle trip! B-Cycle gives Denver citizens another viable transportation option, and is one more step in the process of transitioning our automobile-dependent society into one that relies on multiple modes of transportation that are healthier and more environmentally and economically sustainable.

Here’s a map of just the Downtown locations. You can view an interactive map of all B-Cycle station locations on the B-Cycle website.

B-Cycle station locations in Downtown Denver

The Downtown Denver Partnership and the City of Denver are committed to improving the environment in Downtown for bicycles. Adding the B-Cycle program only reinforces that need and strengthens the argument for committing more of our public rights-of-way to non-motor vehicle uses.


Denver B-cycle

Bike sharing is finally coming to Denver!  Thanks to the successful bike-sharing program during the DNC, Denver is launching B-cycle this spring, with 50 stations around the city and most of those in the Downtown area. For all the details, please check out this site and this one too which has a great map with all the B-cycle locations.


18th Street Pedestrian Bridge

The new 18th Street pedestrian bridge opened this weekend! The bridge, officially known now as the Union Gateway Bridge (although I suspect everyone will still call it the 18th Street Pedestrian Bridge), connects the Riverfront Park and Union Station districts in the Central Platte Valley. The bridge crosses over the Consolidated Main Line (CML) freight tracks and, in a few months, it will also span the tail tracks for the relocated light rail station that will be built a block away at 17th Street and the CML. Let’s take a trip across the bridge, starting from the Union Station side.

A view of the bridge with the Glass House and the Manhattan in the background, and the copper cladding on the elevator cores:

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The new streetscape along the northeast side of 18th Street, and an overview of site prep work for the big Union Station project:

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Looking back at Downtown, and a look down at where the plaza at the base of the bridge will connect to the northern end of the new light rail platform:

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More Union Station site prep work, and the bridge from the Riverfront Park side:

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Click here for a few more details about the bridge from a recent Denver Business Journal article.


Denver Living Streets

Vincent Carroll and the Denver Post just don’t get it. In an October 15 editorial, the Post criticizes Denver Living Streets, the City and County of Denver’s new policy initiative based on Complete Streets principles that provides a balance in how we use our public rights-of-way throughout the city.

The editorial, which you can read here, agrees with most of the arguments in favor of the Living Streets initiative. The editorial correctly points out that “…much good could come from re-imagining how we structure our streets and roads, bike paths and transit systems to make them more pedestrian-friendly…” and that “…our reliance on the automobile has disadvantages aplenty. Though cars have become more fuel-efficient and cleaner, millions of vehicle trips per day have an enormous environmental and societal impact. The obesity epidemic and its mushrooming medical costs show us that our communities ought to be more walkable. Major roads lined with big-box stores, chain restaurants and parking lots aren’t pleasing to the eye.”

Nevertheless, the Post challenges the Living Streets initiative because it would allow for vehicle lanes to be reduced or converted to other transportation uses. Thus, according to the Post‘s reasoning, any pro-bike/ped/transit policy that could conceptually increase automobile traffic congestion or inconvenience motorists is an ill-conceived policy. Basically, the Post‘s editorial position boils down to: we’re all for fixing the problem as long as the solution doesn’t affect what’s causing the problem. The philosophy of “automobiles first, everything else second” is what has gotten us into this mess in the first place. We’ve spent the last six decades inconveniencing (to put it kindly) bikes, pedestrians, and transit within our public realm. If the city’s new policy of providing a balanced approach to the function and design of our streets occasionally results in an inconvenienced motorist, so be it. In fact, some inconvenience for motorists is exactly what we need to begin changing the dysfunctional behaviors that have resulted from the mindset that the only way to get around town is by private motorcar. Denver Living Streets doesn’t aim to just better organize our streets; it seeks to fundamentally alter our attitudes about our built environment and how we choose to transport ourselves within it. To do anything less than that is to maintain the status quo, and the automobile-fixated status quo is unhealthy, inefficient, inequitable, and unsustainable.

As part of its rationale, the Post states that “…Denver already has been constructed as a sprawling city over a large geographic area and that the overwhelming majority of us get around in cars.” Not only does the Post rely on faulty logic by citing automobile dependency as the reason for not solving automobile dependency, it doesn’t even get its premise right. Denver is sprawly in places except for the big chunk of the city that isn’t, such as the dozens of mixed-use, walkable, center city neighborhoods built originally around streetcar stops that are (not coincidentally) some of the most desirable places in the city to live. And, while a lot of people do use cars to get around, a full one-third of the population doesn’t even own a car and 20% of car owners don’t drive to work.

The Post editorial board says they can’t “see how Colorado Boulevard could ever become the kind of walkable LoDo environment that springs to mind when folks say they want to trade traffic lanes for bike paths and pedestrian malls.” Maybe Denverites in the 1930s didn’t envision that 40 years later their extensive streetcar system would be completely gone and that half of their Downtown would be demolished and replaced with parking lots, but that’s what happened. Maybe Denverites in the 1960s didn’t envision that 40 years later their blighted Lower Downtown skid row would be the city’s hippest entertainment district with million dollar lofts and a major league baseball stadium, but that’s what happened. Maybe the Post editorial board can’t envision streets like Colorado Boulevard as anything more than they are today, but many of us can envision such a thing. It won’t be easy and it may take 40 years, but there is no reason why the Colorado Boulevards and Hampden Avenues out there have to be condemned to a future that looks like the present. With Denver Living Streets, at least we increase the odds that those streets will someday become something better than they are now.

Last week, Denver Post opinion columnist Vincent Carroll posted an article that also questions the Denver Living Streets initiative. Like the editorial, he acknowledges the shortcomings of our current automobile-dominated environment and agrees with many of the goals of the initiative, but then warns that “Living Streets also seems determined to restrict our mobility, although it doesn’t put it that way, of course.” Mr. Carroll falsely accuses a policy initiative specifically designed to increase mobility of intending to do the exact opposite, and then criticizes it for being dishonest. Also, Mr. Carroll’s phrase “our mobility” tells us a lot about his remarkably narrow perspective: his “our” means only “those who drive cars” and his “mobility” means only “driving around by car.”

Mr. Carroll concludes his column with the line: “Living streets? By all means. But not at the price of personal mobility.” Apparently Mr. Carroll doesn’t believe that pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders are pursuing personal mobility when they occupy the public right-of-way. Apparently Mr. Carroll doesn’t even recognize pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders as being members of the public for which our public rights-of-way exist to serve.

Fortunately, our leaders and policymakers at city hall have more vision and a more enlightened perspective than the Denver Post editorialists. For several generations, we have mistakenly advanced policies counter to the city-building principles that gave us the urban environments we treasure the most. Nationally, that trend is reversing and locally, the city of Denver is doing its part through the proposed form/context-based zoning code and initiatives like Denver Living Streets. While the motor vehicle remains an important and necessary component of our transportation system, we can no longer afford to allow its use to monopolize our public realm. Living Streets is a big step in the right direction.


Final 18th Street Ped Bridge Rendering

You may recall a few weeks ago I mentioned that the 18th Street Pedestrian Bridge is now under construction in the Central Platte Valley. Chad at OZ Architecture, who designed the new bridge, was kind enough to send me a rendering of the bridge’s final design. Back in May 2007 I posted some early design renderings of the bridge.

Here’s what is being built:

The bridge design features switch-back stairs and elevators at each end, and some high quality materials, such as elevator components clad in copper. The bridge will also have some nighttime illumination. Of course, this bridge is not meant to compete with the iconic Millennium Bridge, but it still looks pretty nice to me.

Next up: construction of the relocated Union Station light rail platform should begin this summer. The extended end of that platform will tie in with the base of this new 18th Street pedestrian bridge.


18th Street Ped Bridge Under Construction

Good news in the Central Platte Valley. It looks like the long-awaited 18th Street Pedestrian Bridge is under construction.

For the past several weeks, utility work has been taking place within the 18th Street right-of-way in advance of work on the bridge itself. While that effort appears to be continuing, I noticed today what looks like a concrete form or something that is going vertical, which I assume is for the bridge itself. Here’s a pic:

There’s also a new sign on the Riverfront Park side of the tracks about the new bridge too.

What’s the bridge going to look like? Here’s one image from my blog on this topic from May 2007. I’m not sure if this is still the latest design, but it’s probably pretty close:

I’ll update this post if I get newer images of the bridge.

Construction on the first component of the big Union Station project–relocation of the light rail station to along the CML at the end of 17th Street–is still supposed to begin soon, as in May or June.


Bicycle Commuter Services

The other day I talked about how Downtown Denver is getting a Bike-sharing program, starting this summer. Here’s some more good news on the Downtown bicycle front that I’m passing along from Bicycle Colorado:

Adult Commuter Education Pilot Program Seeks Downtown Participants
To meet the growing need for adult bicycle education and interest in bicycle commuting, Bicycle Colorado – a statewide bike advocacy organization located in Downtown Denver – has developed a curriculum and pilot program for adult Bicycle Commuter Services (BCS). BCS is designed to partner with employers who are interested in encouraging healthier and happier employees through bicycling. Currently, Bicycle Colorado is seeking two to three employers interested in participating in the pilot program in spring 2009.

The Opportunity
For interested organizations/businesses, this is a great opportunity to sign up and receive Bicycle Colorado’s in-depth bike commuter consultation, education and coaching for a greatly reduced rate. In addition, the organizations or businesses that are chosen to serve as the pilots will be promoted and endorsed as the example organizations that provide best practices for the program into the future.

Program Components
Below are some examples of program components that Bicycle Colorado offers:

Employer survey and consultation:
– Assessment of current bicycling facilities
and policies
– Recommendations for improvement

Employee Education or “brown bag lunches”:
– Commuting 101 targeted toward first time commuters
– Basic bicycle repair and maintenance
– Choosing a route including current commuters as mentors
– Confident cycling skills (both classroom lesson and on-bicycle lesson)

Encouragement Program Creation:
– Development and execution of a company-wide encouragement program
– Program materials, consultation, and support

Opportunity for co-branded press releases, newsletter articles and other media exposure

Based on the needs of the company, the interests of the employees and the results of the initial employer survey, BCS programs will be customized for each client.

Sign Up Now
If you are interested in participating as one of the reduced rate pilot organizations/businesses, please contact Maggie Thompson, Bicycle Colorado Assistant Director, at:
Maggie@bicyclecolorado.org or 303-417-1544 x-15.