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?