is denver friendly?

I feel my life is headed in the direction of cycling. I’ve never been a super duper pro cycling fan, but I have found myself this summer getting really into it. Lately I built myself up to 20-mile routes and I savor the rush of the downhill breeze on my helmet-and-sunglasses-clad head. And I’m doing it on a bike that looks absolutely nothing like the one in Nathan’s recent post: https://aiacoloradoep.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/architecture-on-two-wheels/.

Aside from long range routes, I also bike on a daily basis to school, work, the store, church, and even the liquor store on occasion! I have personally found that biking as a commuter activity in Denver sometimes saves time compared to driving/parking. I also find my legs (and my health) to be in better shape. And all the while I have rediscovered my childhood passion for riding my bike everywhere. And, hey, I can truly claim to be green! I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it.

And then there is this: (no that’s not me, but look closely at that sign)

 Now, I understand what the 16th Street Mall is here in Denver. As a student of architecture, I can appreciate pedestrian malls and the atmosphere which they create. I also understand the dangers of riding on city streets with buses, trucks, and the like. But has this gone too far? I recently saw a Denver Post article from a few months ago where they reported that Black Hawk had banned bicycles from city streets. Yes–city-wide!

And they enforce it, too. I have seen people on the Mall being “pulled over” by police officers, who, by the way, ride their motorcycles up and down the Mall. I have also heard of people being issued warnings and tickets for not having lights on their bikes.

Seriously, people, what is going on? In a world where multimillinon dollar LEED buildings are in style (with those bicycle racks–SS4.2!), why are we disallowing bicycles anywhere? Shouldn’t we be disallowing automobiles and creating bicycle lanes? And if you think it is just the 16th Street Mall, you might be surprised to find out it also happens at the Auraria Campus. Yes–that’s right, at a college campus! I could not believe they enforced this until I, myself, got a warning from an Auraria Campus Police officer. “They will start giving $75 tickets next week,” he informed me. Tickets? Really? Isn’t that more than an automobile parking ticket?

A similar statistic was revealed to me in some zoning research I performed for a recent studio exercise. The Denver Zoning Code, per my humble interpretation, for an educational usage requires 1 automobile parking spot per 1,000 sf. But it only requires 1 bicycle parking spot per 10,000 sf. (D-GT & D-AS for education usage). Someone please tell me that I am misinterpreting this requirement. I hope that the Code is not enabling more automobile usage in Downtown Denver.

What a difference compared to some European cities. I have witnessed in Amsterdam that people do not even lock their bicycles! (see below) That city, which some say is the most bicycle-friendly city, has a gasoline price of $6.48 per gallon, the highest according to CNNMoney.com. Coincidence? I think not. Maybe Denver should be a more bike-friendly city before our gasoline prices hit $6.48.

One thought on “is denver friendly?

  1. These anti-bike policies frustrate me, too. The Germans (who are also bike friendly like the Dutch) have a saying that I find VERY accurate:

    Germans use their bikes to go places. American go places to use their bikes.

    This thinking HAS TO change if we are going to make progress on this issue. It seems like we spend a lot of time making places to go biking instead of making the already-existing places biker friendly.

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