NoPa: The Next Hip Neighborhood!

I was perusing the local home listings, always on the lookout for an affordable house in a good neighborhood. We came across a cool house in what I would call the Baker neighborhood. Isn’t really something we would buy (not a big fan of the schools in the neighborhood), however, I found something interesting the house’s listing.

Super Popular Sobo (South Broadway) Area, Close To All The Hip Shops, Fun Bars, The Mayan, Hornet, Cool Restaurants, Yoga, Sante Fe Arts District and Downtown!

Super popular “SoBo” neighborhood? Seriously? Where the hell did they get the idea that someone wants to live in a neighborhood called SoBo? Just how do you arrive at SoBo from South Broadway? Must have sounded better than the SoBr (as apposed to Drunk?) area. Another thing, can you even call something that is north of Ellsworth Ave in the South Broadway area? (For those not familiar with Denver, Ellsworth is the horizontal axis on Denver’s street grid.)

I think it is just real estate agents trying to attract the young hipster crowd. LoDo has been the long standing nickname for the neighborhood known as Lower Downtown. Then came LoHi, RiNo, SoDo, NoCo, etc.

So, I propose a new neighborhood. We’ll call it, “NoPa.” Its the cool, hip neighborhood of North Park Hill. Its the cool place full of 50s era brick ranch homes. Easy access to commuter rail in 2016. A few miles from downtown and right next to Stapleton (StaTo?).

You just wait, all the cool kids will be wanting to move to NoPa in ten years from now.

Parking Lot Madness

I know I don’t post here often (honestly, do people even read this?), but thought I would share this video that came through my brother on Facebook:


The video is commentary of a typical day at a Whole Foods parking lot next to the Cherry Creek Mall here in Denver.

Where else could this happen but in a culture where car is king?

Bannock Cycle Track

So Denver has a new cycle track.  It was build as part of the Better Denver Bond Program. You can read a little bit about the history of the cycle track on the Denver Urbanism blog.

Here’s the final product:Bannock Street Cycle Track

Let’s look at the above picture a moment. Bannock St is one way, heading south. It has been redone with a nice bike lane heading south with the rest of traffic. The cycle track is contra-flow, goes against the rest of traffic. Of interest, is the pedestrian queue at the crosswalk where the cycle track makes that curve.

Unfortunately, here is a great example of Denver half-assing the project:
Bannock Cycle Track Ends

What do you notice? The cycle track abruptly ends in the opposite direction on a one-way street. There are two problems here:

  1. There’s no directions for cyclists to go from here. They have have the choice of riding on sidewalks and crosswalks or turning off onto the busy Colfax Avenue.
  2. Going with number one, it is mostly illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in Denver.

Seeing as both Bannock St and 14th St are one way in the opposite direction of the track, cyclists have little choice but to go one Colfax Ave. Now here’s the thing, there is another cycle track if you want to go East on Colfax. It is however nothing more than a narrow sidewalk for two directions of cycle traffic. Despite the signange prohibiting peds, they’ll still use it. (It doesn’t help a bus stop is right along the track.)

Colfax Cycle Track

Overall, I applaud the city of Denver for trying something newish. In my opinion, it has a lot of work to do. The cycle track could be a great addition – if it ended in a useful manner and provided cyclists some safe direction to go from there.

Making Denver a Cycle Haven pt. 2: Better Bike Share

Denver B-Cycle is great. I’ve used it many times during the last season. Let me say though, it has huge room for improvement.

A few ideas:

  1. Make B-Cycle a year round thing. I was disappointed when they closed B-Cycle for winter hibernation. While I can sort of understand the reasoning, its utility is severely diminished when it gets closed for a few months out of the year. Then, I get an email today that they delayed its reopening by two weeks.
  2. Saturate the city with kiosks, expand beyond Denver. This should go without saying. B-Cycle should have a thousand kiosks in the Denver area with ten thousand bicycles. For now, I’ll settle for some more outside of the core of Denver.
  3. Kiosks that actually work. I was extremely frustrated last year with some of the touch screens. They didn’t work, became unresponsive, and few times, the station two blocks from my house hadn’t woken up yet. I was unable to retrieve a bike.
  4. Bells on the bike that the hammers don’t break off of.
  5. Cheap prices, similar to Dublin’s bike share. Did you know, that for only ten euro (about fourteen U.S. Dollars), you can get a year long subscription? Much better than B-Cycles sixty-five dollar cost.

Really, I’m being very critical of B-Cycle. It is a great system. I would be entirely happy with it if I could get a bike throughout the entire year.

Making Denver a Cycle Haven pt.1: Colfax Bike Lane

Colfax Ave in Denver is a 26 mile long arterial that stretches from the west end of Denver all the way to the east end of Denver. I’m not sure how accurate this is, but it is often thought of as the longest continuous street in Denver.

It serves as an important arterial, with two of RTD’s busiest bus lines running down it (the 15, 16 and respective Ltds). It is also often considered a blight on our fine city. Many sections of Colfax are run down with crime and poverty. The local communities have tried many things in an attempt at urban renewal with mixed results.

I’m not saying this is going to be a panacea for all of Colfax’s problems, but what if, an easy fix were to take away the car traffic and make a 22.6 mile bike lane along Colfax? It could easily become a heavily bike trafficked corridor with safe and easy access to much of Denver’s neighborhoods.

My idea, would be to run a bike lane from where Colfax meets US6 near its west end in Golden to the intersection of Colfax and Tower Rd near its east end in Aurora.

22.6 miles of bike lane

Now of course there would have to be significant re-engineering of Colfax and traffic lanes removed in many sections. Particularly at the viaduct of I-25 and the train tracks. It also gets rather narrow as it passes through the old sections of Capitol Hill.

I’m not saying this would be easy by any stretch of the imagination. I do believe, however, it is possible and would love to see some municipalities start this initiative.

They’re on to us!

Breaking news for all the members of the great big bicycle conspiracy… they’re on to us!

Read the Denver Post article about gubernatorial candidate Maes:

Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor’s efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes “that’s exactly the attitude they want you to have.”

“This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms,” Maes said.

He added: “These aren’t just warm, fuzzy ideas from the mayor. These are very specific strategies that are dictated to us by this United Nations program that mayors have signed on to.”

Which one of you weren’t following our rules of secrecy?

As an aside, I kinda have to wonder how more people riding bicycles reduces personal freedoms… that was never in our secret liberal UN agenda.

Banning Cyclists Completely on 16th Street

The downtown Denver partnership is looking to ban bicycles completely from the 16th street mall after a tragic collision occurred between a mall shuttle and an elderly rider a couple Sundays ago.

From an article in the Denver Daily, the DDP spokeswoman says

“We still feel that bicyclists on the mall, when you combine the pedestrians and all the RTD shuttles, that that’s not a good equation,” she said. “And I think Sunday’s accident illustrates that even though Sunday is a very low traffic day…we need to look at Sundays and our bike policy on the 16th Street Mall.”

Let’s keep in mind the following that comes from the cited Denver Post article above:

The driver has been ticketed for careless driving resulting in serious bodily injury, said John White, a Denver Police Department spokesman.

Some further details from an article on 9News’ website:

RTD Spokesman Scott Reed says the bus driver honked at the cyclist, but instead the noise startled him. Reed says a witness told RTD the cyclist then slammed on his brakes and flew over his handlebars and the bus driver ran over his right leg.

This is clearly the shuttle driver’s fault. The shuttle driver not only could have avoided the accident by hitting his brakes first, before honking his horn. Also, the shuttle driver was even cited by the police for careless driving.

How does this make sense? Instead of taking time to properly train the shuttle drivers, making sure that they drive safely and not carelessly, they’re just going to get rid of cyclists? What if the cyclist was a pedestrian instead? Would the DDP turn around and ban pedestrians as well?

This is a perfect example of the “sacred bull in society’s china shop.”

Instead of focusing on the real problem, the shuttle buses that are potentially deadly machinery, we focus on restricting the road users who are most vulnerable. This is very often the case with road safety campaigns. Ridiculous.

B-Cycle Ready To Go!

B-Cycle, the nations largest bicycle sharing program is getting ready to launch on Earth Day in our very own Denver!

Everywhere in the city, stations are being populated with bicycles.

B-Cycle @ 25th & Lawrence
B-Cycle at 25th St and Lawrence St

I will be volunteering at B-Cycle stations during the launch to tell you all you need to know. Find me on Friday, 4p-6p at the Cherry Creek Mall, and Saturday, 11a-2p at Denver Health.

Also, if you’re free Thursday morning (I’m trying to find a way to be free), join Mayor Hickenlooper at the B-Cycle Launch Event!

Let’s show the nation what Denver can do to be bike friendly!

Becoming Even More Bicycle Friendly

Was sitting on the bus today, watching a cyclist hug the curb of Wewatta St in Denver. Obviously, he was aware that the street was safer for him than the sidewalk, but he still wasn’t positioning himself in the safest position in the lane.

So, I ask the question many vehicular cyclists want to ignore. How do we get ordinary citizens on the road, cycling in a safe manner?

How can we make bicyclists feel comfortable riding on a big span of concrete and asphalt such as the picture below?

Wewatta and Park Ave
Stolen from Google Maps

The answer does not lie in vehicular cycling dogma. You can tell cyclists all you want that the safest position for them is in the center of the lane. You can even tell motorists the same. There will still be conflicts, there will still be cyclists who fear the street. Who can blame them? Roads like these were obviously designed for cars with any other users simply an afterthought.

Let’s turn to Copenhagen and Amsterdam and the other famous cycling friendly cities in Europe. They’re doing something right if 37% of commuters in Copenhagen ride bicycles.