Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Solstice Ride 2010

I have a success to report! I successfully went on the Bike Denver winter solstice ride!

It was cold. Cold enough that before the ride, Scott's face went numb. His thumbs remained relatively un-numbed-up enough though, so he twooshed about it.

Click to view twoosh

I reckon there were about 50 bikes on the ride, which is a good turn out. The ride started in City Park at the zoo, proceeded through Five Points (through, in fact, the five-point 26th/Welton/Washington intersection after which the area is named), down to Union Station. From there to the City & County Building and the state capitol, and then down to Marion & Colfax to the Irish Snug, where we warmed ourselves with some spirits and libations.

50 Furlongs!

Mapping out the ride later, I discovered that it was almost exactly 50 furlongs in length!

I don't really know what that means, but Google says so, so it must be true.

Click through for Facebook gallery

At the City & County building, I was coraled into a photo with the Bike Depot crew. I'm the bearded, leaning one towering in the foreground like some kind of neon yellow discount Christmas tree.

City & County Bldg, courtesy of @ubiquity

If you haven't seen the City & County building, you're missing an impressive display of complete disregard for holiday deference. It's a Christmas building. And not just a secular Christmas building, but a Christ is born Christmas building. That's Santa's barely visible sleigh on the roof, complete with reindeer. That's a nativity scene to the right of the stairs. And that's a workshop full of elves to the left.


At this point in the ride, my feet had joined Scott's nose in Can't Feel Ya Land. Fortunately we hurried up 16th Ave to the Snug, where I spent only enough time to warm up over a few beers before returning home, where various mammals awaited their dinner.

And after that, the shortest day/longest night of 2010 was over. Here's to having some daylight in the AM and PM during which to ride!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fixing of a Prejudiced Light

The city has been constructin' along E 25th Ave, tearing a thin stripe up out of the middle of the road and then putting it back down again. Looks terribly important and productive..

What I've noticed has happened now, though, is that the light on 25th at Downing now recognizes bicycles! (Sort of.) That intersection is on what my map calls a “neighborhood bike route,” and the light used to not change for bicycles. It was a light on my PABST! (Prejudice And Bias Suck: Totally!) list with a "red" or "High Priority" rating. It's a high priority to have traffic signals on city designated bike routes recognize bicycles. That's obvious, right?

So I would reluctantly, but out of necessity, run the red light there at least once a day during my commute.

But, now! Suddenly I notice that twice it turned green for me! Neither time was there any motor traffic to trigger it. After a few more similar encounters, it became clear that the light is now on a timed cycle. (I watched it keenly from several blocks away as it cycled for no traffic of any kind.) I had hoped that maybe the intersection had been modified to recognize and change for bicycles, but I know that was wishful thinking. I'm unaware of any intersection in Denver that does that. But that is not to say that I don't consider this a victory because I most certainly do.

The change has me abuzz with curiosity. Was this a “one shot” kind of thing, an isolated adjustment unique to that intersection and unlikely to occur elsewhere along other bike routes? Or, and this is what I hope for because this would be really stinking cool, is the city adjusting traffic controls along bike routes to actually recognize—or at least periodically assume the presence of—bikes? ‘cause that’d be awesome.

In any case, I’m stoked about this change at this intersection. One less light I have to run!

Yay, safety.

Good ridin's!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter solstice ride

Bike Denver just announced its Winter Solstice Ride!

I have a bit of a history with this ride.

Rather, I would have a bit of a history had I ever actually gotten to participate in it.

Two years ago

2008 was my first attempt at doing the solstice ride. It was spectacularly cold. The average number of degrees during that day was 13. And then, after that, the sun went down.

I put on four or five shirts, two or three pairs of pants, numerous other accessories, and struck out into the cold. It was about six miles from where I was living in the Highlands to City Park, from where the ride was leaving, and it took me about thirty minutes to cover the distance.

On the way, the laces of my boot got sucked into my cranks and almost threw me off my bike. I executed an emergency stop in the middle of 15th Street, numbed my hands after removing my gloves in order to gain the dexterity needed to untangle myself, and then continued on my way. After, that is, tucking those laces oh so carefully down into the collar of my boot.

I got to the park and to the fountain, where the ride was supposed to begin, only to find ... nothing. I couldn't see any person in any direction. I circled around the park thinking maybe they meant the statue instead of the fountain.

Along the way, I bumped into another cyclist who had also showed up for the ride only to find a lack thereof. He had just moved to Denver from somewhere in Alaska, and seemed comfortable in the cold.

We puttered around the park for a short while longer, and then parted ways, and I returned home, having never spotted the peloton.

Last year

We had moved across town by the time 2009's winter solstice came around. I was mere blocks from City Park instead of miles from it. And it was much warmer. The average temperature that day was 44 degrees! That's 31 more degrees!

I arrived at the fountain in plenty of time. The crowd was still gathering after I got there, so I mingled and gawked and chatted up some other riders. We all climbed up on the edge of the fountain and had our picture taken, shortly after which we started to roll out.

It was at this time I noticed my rear tire was flat. All the way, rim-on-the-ground flat. I considered patching the tube and then playing catch-up, meeting up with the group at some later point in the ride, but there weren't any scheduled stops and I realized I wasn't interested in rolling around Denver by myself searching for a couple dozen people on bikes.

I watched the last of the group roll off, and I pushed my bike home.

This year

This year, my work schedule conflicts with the ride. I was about to resign myself to the fact that I just wasn't going to go and that it was going to be yet another year of not participating, when my Partner and Co-Pilot pointed out to me that my thing is trying and then failing to go on the ride. Not failing to go for a lack of showing up.

And she's right. So if I'm going to fail yet again to go on the winter solstice ride, it will only be after making a valid effort to succeed.

I'm going to arrange to get off early. I'm going to execute a thorough pre-ride checklist to avoid flats and whatevers. And I am going to go on the damn solstice ride this year.

I want you to imagine I said that last part out loud and that I said it with all the determination that Darnielle does in This Year.


Yesterday, IKEA gave each one of its 12,400 US employees a new bicycle!

Pretty awesome. And a little bit funny when you remember this past June when the Brooklyn location resisted a bike lane going in by their store.

IKEA dubbed the event the "big reveal," describing how "the truck doors will open, bicycles will be unloaded," and they'll all come unassembled, in flat boxes. But they'll include a small hex wrench for putting them all together!

I wonder how long it will be before the first IKEA bike shows up for sale on craigslist or eBay. Because some of those +12k employees already gots bikes!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nobody knows how to ride a bike

My partner has had an especially discouraging bike week. Two cars honked at her, apparently protesting her mere presence on the road. One guy standing outside a bar heckled her with a patronizing "You need to get out of the road, sweetie." And this is all following the enormously frustrating debacle that was the Denver Diamond Dash.

At the end of the week, it seems as though neither motorists nor cyclists know what it means to bike safely and legally in this city.

Which is why it felt nice to see a little love and recognition from the Denver Police Department via twitter today.

Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be--

  1. Granted all the rights of a vehicle.

    Including the right to be on the road, to take the lane when sharing the lane will be unsafe.

  2. Subjected to all the duties of a vehicle

    Including the duty of not driving on the sidewalk, of observing stop signs and other traffic signals, of signaling turns.

As I commute, shop, and otherwise live my life, I carefully assert all the rights of a vehicle every day. But I do not always hold myself to all the duties of a vehicle. For example, I never come to a full stop at a stop sign unless I need to in order to avoid colliding with something. If traffic is clear, I might run a stop light.

It's inconsistent. And I should try to correct this. I know.

But it's hard. Because, for example, coming to a full, foot-on-the-ground stop at a stop sign is stupid when it is possible to proceed safely. This fact is recognized by the good state of Idaho. (Yes, what you commonly refer to as a "California Stop" is in reality an "Idaho Stop!")

Plus, there's the example set by our role models, betters, and superiors. This week, on my way to a meeting downtown, I was stopped at a red light at Sherman and Colfax.

While I was wondering how much debt the state might recover if we melted down and sold off that giant golden dome, I noticed a bike cop biking east on Colfax, up the hill, on the sidewalk.

I thought to myself, Huh. Bike cop on the sidewalk. Okay.

And then that bike cop scanned the cross-traffic on Colfax, deemed it sufficiently light, and then ran the red light and crossed the road.

I thought to myself, Huh. Bike cop just ran the red light. Okay.

I remained right where I was and continued to wait for the traffic signal to change before proceeding through the intersection.

Unlike some people.

I judged the officer in question. Hard. And I felt smug for a while about being more lawful than the law. But then I saw this little gem from Denver Cruisers.

[Citation Needed]

I don't know what this claim is based on, or what it is in reference to, but now according to some guy on the internet, Mister Bike Cop was okay to ride on the sidewalk. But not necessarily to run the red light? I'm not sure.

What's a fella to do?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Denver Diamond Dash

So I had just arrived downtown to meet up with my partner for lunch on the 16th Street Mall. Right away I began noticing people scurrying about in matching green t-shirts that identified them as participants in the Denver Diamond Dash, which I assumed to be yet another urban race/scavenger hunt of some sort. Denver's had a ton of them this summer for some reason and they're usually super good fun.

This one was different though because the participants were on wheels. A few were on rollerblades but the vast majority were on bicycles.

And they were driving like idiots. All of them. Like idiots.

During the lunch I enjoyed outside on the patio of Noodles & Co, and during my rides to and from downtown, I saw probably fifty couples. Here are some of the behaviors they displayed!

  1. Riding on the sidewalk. And not just toodling along like you see some people doing. This event is a race, and they were riding like it, whizzing and careening through the mobs of pedestrians that teem through the mall on a Sunday afternoon.

    Please note that riding on the sidewalk is illegal. In fact, it is printed in big letters on the very B-Cycles that were flying down the sidewalk. Do not ride on the sidewalk.

  2. Uber-salmoning. Riding in the street (yay) but against traffic on a one-way street (boo!).

  3. Texting. I passed a girl who was texting on her blackberry while precariously wobbling her bike down the sidewalk. I was able to see her for 5 - 8 seconds and she didn't once lift her eyes away from her device.

  4. Riding on the 16th Street Mall. Granted, it is Sunday, which is arbitrarily the day that one is permitted to ride on the mall. But many of the participants are likely not aware of the distinction or of the rule in the first place.

  5. No helmets. Not one helmet. Not a single helmet. You don't have to wear a helmet, I know, and sometimes I don't. But I'm an educated, confident cyclist. These bozos were begging for a crash, and not one of them was wearing a helmet.

In the interest of total honesty, I did see two people who were following all of the rules of the road. Thank you, those two people.

Now, as we all know, this summer has been widely reported to be the Summer Of Crack Down, during which the police will be ticketing and citing cyclists for all manner of infractions. So I decided to call DPD to see if they had yet handed out any tickets. (Actually, I called DPD because I wanted to complain about the recklessness to somebody and I didn't see a phone number on the Diamond Dash website.)

I called the non-emergency number because, as far as I knew, none of the mad dashers had yet caused any traffic incidents.

The dispatcher didn't really understand what my complaint was, but transferred me to an officer anyway. The officer told me that riding on the sidewalk is allowed during an event.

This left me flabbergasted.

If the event were one during which the sidewalks are closed to pedestrian traffic, then that would reasonable. But that was not the case today. This is a law that exists for obvious safety reasons, and in breaking it the participants of this event were creating obvious safety hazards.

On my way home, I saw two pedestrians tapping along with white safety canes, and I hoped fervently that they make it safely to where ever they were going. Because they certainly aren't going to get any assistance or support from the police department. Not even during the Summer Of Crack Down.

Because there's an event.

Safety issues aside, they were all just so damn visible. There were so many of them, and they were driving so badly, providing so much support for the notion that cyclists are at best inconsiderate goofballs and are at worst reckless scofflaws. Anybody looking for confirmation of that belief had all the support in the world downtown today.

And that's not fair. I'm a careful, considerate, conscientious cyclist. But anybody who encounters me on the road today after driving through downtown this afternoon is likely to identify me as a dangerous idiot.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mariposa Bike Lanes

Another ceremonial ribbon cutting for another new bike lane! This one was on Mariposa Street, and was based out of Lincoln Park, which is just a little bit outside my sphere of familiarity: I've only ridden past Lincoln Park once or twice.

A crude map of the area in question.

BikeDenver's announcement of the event.

The ride started just outside Lincoln Park with the ceremonial ribbon cutting.

Note, first of all, the thin red carpet spread across the width of the bike lane. This is's all purpose red carpet. It has been rolled out at pretty much every function of theirs I've been to, even if it's just bike parking. It is awesome.

And now, a closer look at who the folks are in the photograph.

  1. Me. Behind the car and outside the frame of the picture.

  2. John Hayden, Denver realtor and member of the mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee. He was at the ribbon cutting for the MLK bike lanes.

  3. An especially Nordic looking member of the Denver Housing Authority. This picture doesn't do him a lot of justice; he was the size of a small car.

  4. Councilperson Judy Montero, whose write-up of the event can be found here.

  5. Ismael Guerrero, Executive Director of the Denver Housing Authority.

  6. Somebody I thought I recognized, but it turns out now that I don't, but I had already labeled her in the picture, so ... sorry.

The ride itself was pleasant. It showed riders recommended ways to get from Lincoln Park to downtown to the high school to the Light Rail and back to the park, where there were Clif Bars and cupcakes.

I fell in beside a jolly old couple at one point in time to hear the gentleman exclaim that it is easier to bike in Denver than in Asheville, North Carolina! I have visited Asheville and thought it was lovely, so I chatted with him about the area for a moment. He turned out to be Senior City Planner Emily Kreisa's dad, in town for a visit.

If during the course of your job you get to go on a nice, slow bike ride through downtown with your mom and dad, then you've got a pretty sweet job. Well done, Emily. And, your folks are cute. I liked it when your mom was noticing out loud which foot everybody put down when they stopped.

And then towards the end of the ride, a funny thing happened.

The peloton had just come to a four-way stop when this car behind us whipped over across the double yellows and into the opposing lane.

Ironically, he had his left turn blinker on, in full dutiful compliance with the traffic law. While sitting on the wrong side of the road, in flippant disregard of that traffic law. It was obvious that the driver was of two minds when it came to following the rules of the road, and that he couldn't be trusted.

So he was intent on executing a left hand turn, but so were we. The peloton, taking advantage of the right-of-way to which, as law abiding citizens of the road, we were entitled, began its left hand turn. The driver, should he simultaneously execute his turn, would have to continue driving down the English side of the road until he had passed the entire group, at which point he could merge--probably while signally properly--back into the proper lane.

Unfortunately for him, he never got that far. When he initially pulled up to the intersection, he unbeknowingly pulled up alongside the two bike cops who were leading our ride, one of whom immediately shouted a stern and impressively coppy "HEY!" and corralled him.

I rode on, swept down stream by the bike current, and didn't see the conclusion of that interaction. I doubt he was ticketed because I saw the cop again shortly thereafter, but I believe the motorist won't soon be repeating that maneuver!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Dan Maes. Is Crazy.

Look. Here's the deal.

I didn't write about Candidate Dan's bike gaffe when it happened. Because writers far more talented than I did jump all over that shit.

But I would like to make a few comments on the situation.

How seriously do you take this warning?

As a side-feature of the original Denver Post article, a poll asked "How seriously do you take this warning?" with choices ranging from "Very seriously" to "Not seriously at all".

"Not seriously at all" beat "Very seriously" 54% to 32%. Which is very close to the 50 to 38 by which Hickenlooper is polling ahead of Maes, so I suppose the numbers make sense.

But, no. Seriously? 32% of you think this is something that should be taken very seriously? I have to assume that there were many people selecting this option for comedic value.


United Communist Nations

A lot of the ridicule from the blogs came in the form of commie jokes and soviet bike posters.

Which is obviously funny.

But inaccurate. Because in the Maesiverse, bikes are not communist. They are United Nationsist. Candidate Dan's statement is that Denver B-Cycle is a "very specific [strategy] that [is] dictated to us by this United Nations program that mayors have signed on to" and that "it could threaten our personal freedoms".

This is an incredibly stupid thing to say for the following reasons.

  1. The program Candidate Dan is referring is ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, of which Denver is a member. It was founded in 1990 at the UN building in New York. ICLEI has benefited from the networking and communications strengths of the UN, but as far as I can tell, this is the only connection between ICLEI and the UN.

  2. The subsequent linking of B-Cycle to ICLEI is a tiny bit of a stretch. I mean, they both share the goal of sustainable growth, so I guess I can understand the suspicion. But B-Cycle disavowed themselves of all allegations.

  3. The assertion that a UN program could threaten our personal freedoms is beyond ridiculous. The UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted over 60 years ago and contains 30 articles compared to the US Bill of Rights's 10 amendments. This organization is champion of human rights.

  4. It is by his own admission an unfounded and random statement! He didn't actually pull it out of his ass; he pulled it out of a portfolio that some woman thrust into his hands and that he had not actually read.

In closing

While this bike situation is the most comical moment of Candidate Dan's campaign, his sincere belief in statements just as wacky, but extraordinarily more frightening, makes him a truly terrifying potential governor.

But that's politics, and this is a bike blog.

Suffice it to say, I'm thankful there's not actually a chance of this wack-a-doo winning office. I welcome anyone and everyone to join me in beginning to laugh him off the stage.

Here's to election season!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

double rainbow: what does it mean

Remember when I found that awesome road? I rode on it again today, straight down the white line. The white was so white, and the black was so black, like only a brand new road can be.

For reasons that are scientific, a rainbow was reflecting off my front rim. It was hovering off to the right, keeping time with me and accompanying my down the road. It was like racing your shadow, but more magical looking. It also made me think of the rainbow cars that the Care Bears drive.

I didn't expect to catch it in this picture, but there it is, looking all awesome and stuff.

And just for ridiculousness's sake, I would like to point out the following. That left foot pictured next to the rainbow? It's mine. And the sandal that that left foot is wearing? It's a Rainbow.

Yeah, that's a double rainbow all the way!

Monday, August 9, 2010

No parking on 16th Street Mall

So I was at the 16th Street Mall on Sunday, meandering about and engaging in some commerce, when I saw this nice orange cruiser up ahead. I proceeded to ogle it.

I then noticed a bright green paper zip-tied to the handlebar and, curious, went in for a closer look.

Please do not park on the 16th Street Mall

There are over 600 designated bicycle parking racks throughout Downtown, including at each intersection of the Mall. Parking your bicycle at locations such as street lights, trees, railings or other furnishings on the 16th Street Mall is prohibited*, can cause property damage and may limit pedestrian access on this pedestrian-transit street.

Please be aware that bicycles parked along the 16th Street Mall that impede pedestrian or shuttle traffic may be impounded by Denver Police.

Please contact the Downtown Denver Partnership with any questions about bicycling in Downtown Denver at 303.534.6161

* Section 54-575 RMC

I continued to see these notices attached to bikes all along the mall. I had neither seen nor heard of such things before, so I promptly asked the Internet what it was all about. I promptly got a few replies.

The referenced section of the Revised Municipal Code says you can park on the sidewalk in a rack "as to not impede the normal and reasonable movement of pedestrian or other traffic." It doesn't seem to say anywhere that you can't park next to signs or posts, but that definitely appears to be how it's being interpreted here.

The 16th Street Mall must be the most bike restrictive place in Denver. You cannot ride there, but you can on Sundays, but you can never park there.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chair on Bike

I'm re-posting this picture, and my comment on it, from Cyclicious.

That old dude is awesome, obviously, because he's moving a chair on his bike. But even more so because of the "ho-hum" approach he's taking to it, as evidenced by the way he's dressed. Like he's out for a Sunday stroll: white slacks and sandals, cool button down and his sweater tied around his shoulders, topped off with favorite baseball cap.

There is nothing about this guy to indicate that he's doing anything unusual, or that he's trying to earn street cred or style points, or that he's trying to make a statement about people-powered transportation, or that he's even interested in bicycles or furniture.

He's just a guy taking care of business.

I'm reading a lot into this picture, but this guy appears to have a perfectly utilitarian view of his bike. He would probably be as baffled by Bicycle Culture as he would be by Vacuum Cleaner Culture.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Distracted driving

It's a hot topic. It was described in shocking detail in Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic.

And, I mean, it has its own dot gov site.

A dot gov website featuring, naturally, the most celebrated and multi-modal friendly Secretary of Transportation of all time, Ray LaHood.

And this year, congress declared April National Distracted Driving Awareness Month after passing a resolution introduced by Colorado's own Betsy Markey.

Most discussion of distracted driving concerns drivers of automobiles. Which is fair to a degree because the most gross examples of it are kind of unique to automobiles. Meaning, you can't fiddle with the stereo while shaving on a bicycle.

But that doesn't mean even a little bit that distracted driving is limited to drivers of automobiles. I've seen bikers doing it, and it seems I'm noticing it more and more. Others are noticing it too; several states with laws regulating cell phone use in cars are considering extending those restrictions to cyclists.

Which makes sense. It would be consistent with the expectation that the rules of the road apply to cyclists and motorists in equal measures. I don't see any downside to saying you can't text while biking. It's a little invasive, but so are seat belt laws.

And it would prevent the scene I saw yesterday.

That's a photo I took with my one-of-a-kind handlebar-mounted MS PAINT GOOGLE MAPS camera. It's a photo of a dude on a bike flying down the new bike lane on MLK Blvd. He exhibits perfect posture. And he has both eyes and both hands on his cell phone.

Clearly this is distracted driving. And it's happening on one of the busier streets you're likely to come across in this area.

And it's happening because of the false sense of security of the bike lane.

A couple months ago, there were no bike lanes on MLK, and you rarely saw a cyclist there because of the thick, fast traffic. Now there are bike lanes and the shift from scary to bike-friendly was almost instantaneous. You see a ton of cyclists on it. They obviously now feel safe on this road.

It takes a certain amount of hubris and a certain feeling of invulnerability in order to engage in distracted driving, because it is a willful choice to fish your phone out of your pocket or to start putting on your makeup. Bike lanes, similar to being nestled deep within three tons of steel, can provide such a false feeling of security that you see things like the above gentleman, oblivious to his surroundings and flying down one of Denver's busiest streets.

Vehicular cyclists, who take the lane and otherwise share the road with motorists, must be actively engaged with their surroundings in order to survive their rides. It's unlikely for them to engage in distracted driving.

So if you want to reduce distracted driving among cyclists, and assuming a primary function of bike lanes are to make novice cyclists feel more comfortable on the road, take the funds set aside for installing new bike lanes and divert them to classes aimed at making the novice cyclist feel more comfortable on the road.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

open source transportation

Very few people could build a car themselves out of parts they salvaged, found, or otherwise obtained for free.

Most people, though, could do so with a bike.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tour de B-Cycle

The Tour de B-Cycle is a an on-going challenge by Denver Bike Sharing (tw/fb) to visit each b-cycle station in one business day.

The goal is to check one bike into and out of each station, keeping the travel time between stations under 30 minutes so that each ride is free. Returning to and checking in at the station where you initially checked out your first b-cycle concludes the tour.

On Friday, June 25, I did it.

In 100 degree heat. Yow.

But, verily, it was fun of win.

Above is a slightly shopped picture of the Tour website, getting your name on which is one of the prizes for finishing. Other prizes include-

  1. Braggin' rights

  2. Rad t-shirt (1)

  3. Cool b-cycle poster (1)

  4. Sore glutes and legs (2 each) 'cause those bikes all weigh a bah-zillion pounds.

I spent a lot of time planning my route on mapmyride before realizing that you have to pay to print your route, which I consider to be poppycock.

Fortunately, investing that mental energy beforehand made it such that I was then able to proceed with confidence armed with nothing but the basic map of locations from

The exact route I took, unfortunately, can no longer be taken. When I completed the tour, there were only 42 stations. A 43rd station has since opened at 7th & Grant.

And one thing I learned quickly is that the touch screens aren't like normal touch screens. It's like the screen covers actual buttons, and you have to manipulate the screen in such a way that actual buttons are pressed.

For example, sometimes there are three buttons in a row, and if you press the left hand button you get the menu from the middle button. So you back up and press the far left bit of the screen, not necessarily on the button itself, and get the left button menu.

It's a little eccentric.

Below is a reckoning of all 42 stations.

I started my day at about 6:30 AM by purchasing a $5 day membership at Park & Tremont (1) since it's the station closest to my house. I then jumped up to Five Points (2) and over to 28th & Larimer (3) area. (The 28th & Larmier station is right outside the B-cycle main offices.) The 25th & Larimer station (4) kiosk wasn't working, so after I checked my bike in, I called b-cycle and left a message to that effect, and walked back to 28th & Larimer to check out another bike and continue from there. (Sadly, this was the first of several instances of having to walk to another station from one that wasn't working.)

Car scrap art @ 24th & Larimer

Several stops passed with little incident: Broadway & Walnut (5), 22nd & Market (6), Coors Field (7), 19th & Market (8), 17th & Larimer (9), Market St Station (10) and Union Station (11), where I found a b-cycle membership card atop one of the bike stalls! (I would later return this card to the b-cycle offices.)

The board game benches at Market St Station

15th & Delangy (12) was a nice stop. I liked the view of the big stabby heart thing outside the art museum.

Some truck driver paused in his truck-drivin' to ask me about b-cycles. Seriously, about 1.5 points into a 3 point turn, he stopped and started gabbing at me through his truck-drivin' window.

The Little Raven station (13) is where I ran into my first little bit of trouble.

I returned my bike and when I tried to check out another, the station gave me a green light and a Go Ahead. It said it released a bike, but then it didn't. The dock clicked as though it had unlocked, but the bike remained locked steadfast.

So suddenly we had an annoying little discrepancy between life as it is actually lived, and life as it is represented in computers. I called b-cycle for help but they wouldn't open for another hour, so I got somebody from a call center, who encouraged me to buy another membership by swiping a second credit card, with the expectation of having one $5 membership refunded at some point. Fortunately, I had a second credit card with me, so that's what I did.

On past the National Velvet station (14) by Salvagetti, and the only station in the Highlands by Little Man Ice Cream station (15), and back to REI (16).

By that time, it was approaching 9:00 AM, which is when I had scheduled a doctor's appointment, so I rode from REI back to Park & Tremont, where I parked my b-cycle and picked up my own bike, which I had locked there, and went to the doctor.

Turns out I have pretty good cholesterol!

After that, I checked out another bike at Park & Tremont and rode to the Pepsi Center (17) where I checked in but was unable to check out because the screen was frozen, or locked, or broken. It was unable to advance past the initial welcome screen. But it did not say "Welcome" or anything. It merely displayed two rather fuzzy, somewhat pixelated boxes: one for English and the other for Spanish.

Unable to do anything else there, I called b-cycle to report the problem, and then walked to 14th & Larimer (18), from where I was able to zip along through 17th & Curtis (19), the US Bank building (20), the Convention Center (21, and 14th & Welton (22).

A fantastically detailed knitted u-lock "locked" to the station at the Convention Center

I didn't see the station at Denver Pavilions the first two times I rode past it because, I guess, it was under that land bridge and in the shade. After I finally checked my bike in there (23), I was unable to check another one out. (Got a "Sorry the system is down" type message.) So I hot-footed it on over to 15th & Tremont (24) which was also down.

I walked further on to the Webb Building (25) which was also down. (Three in a row!) I tried to call b-cycle but the call didn't go through, so I thought the entire office had lost power, been struck by lightning, or been raptured up somehow.

At this point, it was blazing hot and, facing the prospect of all the stations being down and b-cycle being unreachable for help, I almost called it quits and caught a bus home.

Starting to walk home/towards a bus stop, I saw the station at the news building (26), and I thought I'd try it for the hell of it. And lo and behold, I got a bike! I rode to 16th & 16th (27) and to the library (28) without incident.

"Lao Tzu" outside the library

Confidence restored, I rode to 11th & Broadway (29), which is an oddly placed station in the parking lot of an Arby's. A reeling, shirtless dude approached me as I was swapping bikes and offered to do 25 push-ups for me in exchange for 25 cents. I apologized for not having any change on me, and hurried along.

Past the Sunken Gardens, I traded bikes at Denver Health (30). A doctor paused in his doctorin' to ask me about b-cycles.

After that was one of the Long Rides of the day, during which I came close to approaching the 30 minute time limit. But at the end of it, I found myself at the Pearl & Louisiana light rail station (31), where I stopped for lunch, and to get out of the heat, and to rehydrate.

Entrance to the underground Light Rail station at Pearl & Louisiana

Then down to Pearl & Florida (31), and Buchtel and High (32, where somebody apparently flipped out and hulksmashed the kiosk in the face, shattering the screen and rendering it rather embarrassed. Couldn't check out there, so walked onto campus--calling b-cycle along the way to report the broken kiosk--to Nagel Hall (33) and rode from there to the Driscoll Center (34).

Those two DU stations were Denver's first.

It was about this time that I discovered the weird little thing on the handlebars by your left thumb is a bike bell! So I tootled around campus after that dinging and smiling at everybody.

Smashed screen

After a second Long Ride, during which I saw a group of b-cyclers among which might have been some of the six others to complete the tour that day, I arrived at the Cherry Creek mall (35), and hit the stops there (36, 37, 38) and stopped again to cool off for a spell at the Ross-Cherry Creek library.

There was a girl at the hot dog cart across the street who took off her shoes and waded into a fountain to cool off. It was hot, yall.

From there, to the Botanic Gardens (39) and 9th & Downing (40), 13th & Pearl (41), and finally to the last station at 19th & Pearl (42)!

Returning to Park and Tremont (1) completed the loop at about 3:30 PM. That's about nine hours altogether, including several long stops.

I then tried to check out another bike so I could ride to B-cycle HQ to turn in my found b-card, say hi to the crew, and fill up my water bottle. But instead I got another false check-out. Having run out of credit cards with which to buy memberships, I just grabbed my own bicycle and rode on over.

And that's pretty much all there is to say on the matter.

That was Friday, and my shwag was available after the weekend.

The ride was obviously not without its challenges, and the b-cycle system as a whole is obviously not without its own problems, but it's new. And it was a fun ride, and it's an awesome service to the city and people.

I'm happy to have it.

Ride on.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

double heckle

I've been heckled twice in the past two days. Disconcerting!

The first heckle was as articulate as the second one was incomprehensible, but both were uncalled for.

Heckle 1

The first happened in an intersection at 13th & Franklin, north of Cheesman Park.

What you can see in the photograph below is me, northbound, and a silver car, southbound, sitting at the traffic light like the good law-abiding vehicular citizens that we are. This photo also captures another cyclist blowing through the red light and looking quite tickled about it.

The cyclist may or may not have been naked.

I observed the cyclist go by, and continued waiting for the light to change. When I noticed the opposing light begin to change, as shown below, and after noting the lack of cross traffic, I started getting into my saddle and started inching forward. (I had forgotten to downshift approaching the stop, you see, and I knew it would take me a minute to get rolling.)

By the time I had entered the intersection, my light had turned fully green, and as the driver of the silver car also entered the intersection himself, he called out his window to me--both of us, mind you, in the intersection--"You actually let him influence you. That's sad!"

Referring, I believe, to the naked and grinning cyclist who ran the red light, and thereby, I believe, implying that I was submitting to some kind of peer pressure and running a red light.

Were this his assertion, then by his logic, his dumb ass was also running the red light. But the light was green, and-- gah!

It was a statement at such odds with reality that I couldn't even open my mouth to say anything until the car and I were practically a full block away from each other.

I continued to ponder it the whole way home, wondering what I would have said to him had I been given an opportunity to respond.

Heckle 2

This one happened at MLK and Franklin. (What's up with Franklin, right?) I was using the aforementioned MLK bike route to get home after work and was on the part of the route where the bike lanes gave way to some sharrows.

This is a two-lane one-way street. I was riding on the sharrows, and as I approached Franklin I looked behind me to check the traffic, because I was planning to change lanes and turn left onto Franklin to continue my ride home.

Behind me in my lane was one car, and in the passing lane next to our left were two cars. I realized I'd probably have to take the next left instead due to having to wait for at least those two cars to pass, and possibly the one behind me.

You know, elementary traffic maneuvering stuff.

The two cars to in the passing lane passed, and then the one behind me laid on the horn, kind of straddled to the two traffic lanes, and started to pass me.

I started to shake me head at the driver, hoping to convey the fact that he was in error, that I was doing nothing wrong, that I was disappointed in and a little embarrassed of his behavior.

It was a loaded head shake.

As he pulled up along side me, I made eye contact with him, hoping to really drive home the full effect of my poignant head shake, at which point he leaned in and kind of shook his fist a little and yelled, "Mufuckin shit ass, here!"

In answer to which I scolded him lamely, "No! That's wrong!"

I was referring not to his grammar and diction, but to his overall response to the situation.

He sped on and turned right at the next block, eager--I assume--to get out from under my scornful gaze and sad head shake.

And so that was the trifecta of Angry Motorist responses. I got a honk, a low grade buzz (he was half in my lane), and a cussin. The only thing missing was having something thrown at me, which thankfully I have never experienced.

Still, I was about as mad as I've even been after a traffic encounter, and I commented to myself that if I didn't flip him the bird for this--and I did consider it--then I'm just not a traffic birder. I am a head-shake-of-disapproval-er, which is far more lame, but which is probably safer in its lameness in that it will probably always fail to incite further action from an angry motorist.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


So some new bike lanes went up on MLK Blvd a while ago. When they first went in, I was critical of them. "MLK is so busy, and cars just fly down it." Also, 29th Ave is bike route D6, a nice wide enjoyable route. (MLK is effectively 32nd Ave, only three blocks north of 29th.)

I hadn't ridden these bike lanes, and no plans to before hearing about the "Bike Lane Unveiling" that was planned one Friday morning. (Bikedenver's announcement here.) It sounded like it would be a hoot, so I turned out in Stapleton the morning of the event.

The Denver Bikerati were out in scores. Attendees and special guests included the Bike Depot's Chris Dunn (whose infant son wore the tiniest helmet and sunglasses, and had a kick-ass handlebar seat behind a large protective windshield), councilpersons Carla Madsen and Michael Hancock (both of whom rode b-cycles during the ride), bikedenver's Piep van Heuven (who is always awesome and fun to chat with), Senior City Planner Emily Kreisa, and others.

Clif Bar and Starbucks were both there handing out their wares. Some Stapleton neighborhood group was giving out bananas.

There was a lady there promoting a local car share program. She had a large beautiful dog next to the car, and I have to admit I felt as though I had been mislead when she admitted to me that the shared cars don't all come with large beautiful dogs. DANG!

There was also somebody there leading the crowd, which initially consisted of but one person, in pre-ride yoga exercises.

Councilperson M. Hancock on the left. Co-worker o' Mine D. W. on the right.

Incidentally, there was a five year old in the yoga crowd who could yoga the hell out of some yoga. All the adults were embarrassed of their own yoga when they saw this five year old busting out his own kick-ass yoga. He was like the Michael Jordan of basketball yoga, and everybody else was the Michael Jordan of minor league baseball yoga.

Some speakers did some speakin', during which it was spelled out to me what was significant and special about about the MLK bike lanes: they create the only continuous, newbie-friendly route between downtown Denver and Park Hill/Stapleton.

Once it was explained to me that way, I immediately ceased being critical of the MLK bike lanes. Suddenly, I was appreciative of them, and I admired them, and I valued them. They suddenly became awesome.

Some red string--perhaps it was a ribbon--was strung across the front of the podium where all the speakin' occured. Eleven or eight Important People were given tiny scissors, and together they cut the "ribbon" and the bike lanes were "opened."

The lanes had been painted and dry at least a week prior, and the cutting occurred several blocks from the beginning of the lanes. But nobody thought it appropriate to mention such things, and we all clapped and cheered instead. Hooray!

Then, soon, it was time to mount up (it means "get on your horses") and ride from Stapleton, down MLK and eventually along Champa, where we would end at Curtis Park. (Event map.)

It was a ride largely parallel to my daily commute, so it was familiar. But it was in orders of magnitude faster than usual. The reason being that we had a three car police escort through town, stopping cross traffic and ushering us through intersections. I guess that's the kind of service you get when city councilpersons are leading your bike ride.

Immediately I became accustomed to the VIP treatment, and every ride I have taken since then has been comparatively inferior and decidedly spoiled by the lack of fanfare and flashing lights.

The ride down MLK was fine. Somewhere between Steele (halfway through the phantom projection of City Park, blocks to the south) and York (exiting the phantom park) the bike lane ends and is replaced by a couple of sharrows. Which is fine for any experienced rider. But assuming these bike lanes exist for the novice Stapleton commuter, it might be somewhat unnerving to suddenly be thrust into traffic that heretofore had been driving mindlessly along without having to think of or otherwise consider the bikes that had been sectioned off and segregated in their own special private little bike lanes.

I don't recall seeing any "Bike Lane Ends" kind of sign. I think drivers and cyclists alike could benefit from one at that point.

When we arrived at Curtis Park, bikedenver had a booth set up with freebies and good will for all. There was also a cupcake truck! (I had the chocolate one because omg chocolate.)

Bikedenver unveiled (as far as this blogger is concerned) their new logo and branding. I told Piep it looked awesome, and she responded thankful that a macho dude such as I didn't find the cool blues too feminine.

So there ya go. A clear shot from downtown to Stapleton now exists.

The next question I have now is when will Stapleton get its first b-cycle station?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Big and Tall

via flickr

Tall bike with an xtracycle! Seriously.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Please restore access to Black Hawk

The city of Black Hawk, Colorado has banned bicycles from most of its streets. You can read the press release and the actual legislation here. (via, which uses an annoying flash navigation menu).

I submitted the following email using language from Bicycle Colorado's response.

date: Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 11:48 AM
subject: Please restore bicycle access to Black Hawk

To: Mayor David D. Spellman and Aldermen Linda Armbright, Paul G.
Bennett, Diane Cales, Kathleen Doles, Tom Kerr, Greg Moates

Please restore full bicycle access to the city of Black Hawk.

Your ban prevents residents from commuting and shopping by bicycle,
and from having the choice to live car-free. Your ban closes a
major cross-state route by denying bicyclists access to Gregory
Street/State Highway 279, the only paved street connecting the Peak to
Peak Highway with the Central City Parkway.

The reason for the ban is unclear because, although City Manager Mike
Copp said the ban was put in place "to promote safety," neither he nor
Police Chief Cole were able to cite any bicycle fatalities or
bicycle/automobile collisions preceding the ban.

And the ban was made, according to City Manager Copp, without any
input from bicyclists or bicycle organizations, despite Bicycle
Colorado's Dan Grunig's request that the ban be reconsidered so that
the bicycle community may have an opportunity to provide input.

Bikinginla offered this blurb, with informative links, on the matter:

Cyclelicious offers a couple of great looks at the Blackhawk, Colorado bike ban, which was supposedly done for safety reasons — even though there were no cyclist or pedestrian deaths in the entire county in the last four years for which records are available.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring is here! And bad cyclists!

DPD Twitter

A cyclist died last night after colliding with an automobile. I used to live near the intersection in question. It's one of the more trafficky spots in an otherwise very calm, residential area.

According to the Denver Post article, the collision happened at about 8:30 PM, by which time it would have been mostly dark.

I don't know any of the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate event, but I choose to see it as a symptom of a certain trend I've been noticing. During the last several days, as the weather gets nicer, there has been a considerable increase in the number of cyclists out on the roads. Many of whom, since they weren't out on the roads during winter, are fair-weather pleasure-cruisers. And a large percentage of this group is doing it just plain wrong.

I've become more and more annoyed at cyclists as the temperatures approach 70 degrees. Come 8:30 PM, I am seeing tons of cyclists in dark clothing, with no lights and no helmets, often riding down roads so busy that I avoid them whenever I can.

There is scientific evidence of the presence of these idiot cyclists.

It's a graph. It must be true. That's science!

I had been lulled into complacency this winter by the fact that the majority of cyclists I encountered were careful, safety-conscious, and responsible riders. But now that it's getting nice outside, there are all these ninjas, salmons, scofflaws, and imbeciles. They're clogging up the tubes! I remember now feeling the same frustration last spring.

Well! This I guess is the season to do some Pirating!

I need to prepare some give-away packs.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Clear Creek Trail

click through for to see traildenver's maps

I got a chance to go for a long ride this weekend, which included the leg of Clear Creek Trail between the South Platte River and Ralston Creek Trails.

There are three confluences along this section of trail. From northeast to southwest—
  1. Clear Creek and South Platte River

  2. Clear Creek and Little Dry Creek

  3. Clear Creek and Ralston Creek

I am going to address these confluences in order, not geographic order, but in order of Nicety and Usefulness.

1. Ralston Creek Trail

This is the most intuitively navigable confluence of trails I've seen in Denver. I've taken the wrong turn at, or have at least hesitated at nearly all of them except this one. The first time I tried to take the South Platte River to work, I accidentally took Cherry Creek Trail at the confluence. Which is totally my fault because I am easily disoriented. I don't get that way here though. It's idiot proof.

Trail marker and Helpful Graffiti

I'm a fan of helpful graffiti. Especially in situations like this when you're out on the trail and don't necessarily have access to landmarks and cross-streets for reference.

This three way intersection is labeled "Arvada" for Ralston Creek Trail, "Denver" for eastbound Clear Creek, and "Golden" for westbound Clear Creek. Straightforward enough.

And the Ralston bridge is just pretty.

2. South Platte River

An A-OK juncture. Platte runs north/south, and Clear Creek runs east/west.

Eastbound on Clear Creek, there's a natural flow in the trail that usually suckers me into continuing north for a beat before I realize it, and that I wanted to take that wooden bridge back there on the right in order to continue on to Denver. So I have to stop and turn around.

It's a nice enough little rest stop, complete with benches and a small bathroom. I usually stop to stretch my legs.

There is a big trails map posted, but no markers by the intersections so you'll have to keep your direction clear in your head. There is a trail that I think just loops around the little confluence park, but I haven't ventured around it.

3. Little Dry Creek

Okay. This is my Bermuda Triangle. I have ridden past this lake half a dozen times and I continue to get completely disoriented every time I do. My motivation for making this post is the hope that if I write this down I will be able to proceed with confidence next time.

It's not the trails intersection so much as it is the lake just before it. Clear Creek seems to dead end at this lake, for when you come around to the other side of it, there's a hard left at the spill-over, and a sign informs you that you are getting on Little Dry Creek Trail.

Which always throws me because I always want to continue on Clear Creek. I don't want to go on Little Dry Creek. So I backtrack thinking I must have absentmindedly missed a fork. And when I don't see one, I waste a few more minutes looking at the trails map posted near the lake's street entrance, which is too large to offer any real detail and which has no "You Are Here" and which is just not helpful. So then I might surface to the street so I can see what my nearest cross streets are, thinking that the map might then be more useful.

Eventually, in desperation I just take the damn Little Dry Creek Trail. Which, ironically has been flooded every time I've ridden it.

And then a couple beats up the trail, I come to an intersection well marked with Helpful Graffiti. "Arvada" for westbound Clear Creek, "Westminster" for northbound Little Dry Creek, and "Denver" for eastbound Clear Creek.

So the point that I need to remember is that the "Little Dry Creek" marker at the lake is premature, or at least it does not signify the termination of Clear Creek. The trail fork lies past this misleading marker.