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.