Summer travel season is upon us, and I recently visited my family in Littleton, CO. This was the first trip where I brought my folding bike on the plane. Tom, my partner, was the one at the airport who could describe our odd piece of luggage as a “Folding Mobility Device” with out laughing so as to avoid any potential bike fees. We were both excited for a little vacation, go on some bike rides and also check out Denver’s B Cycle bike share program.
I had a few biking goals for this trip, including getting a basket for my mom’s cruiser bike so she could bike to her errands. As it turned out a variety of bike shops had opened in the past few years in nearby strip malls. I opted to ride the folding bike, while I made Tom ride my Mom’s Schwin Cruiser with the coaster breaks. The neighborhood is flat and the streets are really wide, a bike lane could easily fit with out even adjusting the number of lanes. I was surprised at how quickly we arrived at our first destination. We found a very nice and incredibly huge bike shop. There was a pretty wide selection of bikes and accessories. I ended up getting a helmet for my mom that matched her bike. Speaking of helmets, I learned that my mom never actually had worn a helmet before, but wanted to start so she could set a good example for my six year old niece. My mom actually ended up finding bike basket at Target that was made for the exact model of bike she had. It was cute and pretty cheap, plus it could hold 10lbs. Sure it is not a major hauling bike, but it is enough to get her going. First goal accomplished!
Biking to the store was so easy, Tom and I wanted to keep riding around. We rode on a green belt path (pictured above) that connected to a wide side walk on a major arterial street, Bowles Ave. Even though I am a very confident rider there was no way in hell I was going to take the lane on that street. The sidewalks are wide and there are seldom people walking. Soon we were able to cross the street into Clement Park. It dawned on me for the first time that if I had attended Columbine High School, (yes…that Columbine HS) I could have easily biked to school instead of take that 20 minute bus ride/ or drive. Anyway…we rode around the lake in the park. We ended up stopping at the one and only business that took advantage of neighboring a bike path advertising cheap draft beer to passers by. (See how this Bikeconomics thing works…) We concluded our neighborhood adventure by going to a local fancy market to grab good coffee beans and cheese.
See the thing is I lived in Littleton for the entirety of my adolescence and I biked on some neighborhood trails but I rarely (if ever) took my bike out of the housing development. I don’t think it really occurred to me that I could actually go places. These outings were so enlightening to me because I realized the story I had told myself, it was hard and dangerous to bike in the suburbs, that story was not true. Drivers were respectfully passing us on the street and I noticed more bike racks and other riders than I had in the past. While there are improvements that need to be made along major roads that would go along way to making biking more accessible to people, for the first time it seemed possible to ride a bike for transportation in Littleton.
The next day Tom and I had plans to go to Denver, where we lived together for a year and got into riding bikes for transportation at that time. We set out from my parent’s house again taking the sidewalk on Bowles, because that is what felt safe. We discovered a nice little path that connects the Platte River trail directly to the Light rail station. Tom parked the cruiser bike and we folded the folder so it fit really easily on light rail. I have to say that non-folding bikes are kinda awkward on Denver light rail, you just kinda hang out in the door way with your bike. Not ideal.
When we got off the train there was the glorious B Cycle waiting for us. For a mere $8 we had access to a bike all day! We spent the day biking all over Denver. We checked out our favorite restaurants, the book store Tom worked at, the MCA where I volunteered, parks and coffee shops. Tom and I switched off with one of us on the folder and the other on B Cycle. It was really easy to use. At times we would bike to our intended destination and then realize we needed to really aim for the docking station closest to where we wanted to go and then walk from there. I hope to see the program expand. The radius didn’t quite cover our last destination, a Pokey Lafarge show, so we had to take the bus, which just takes a really long time in comparison. Finally at the end of the night we hopped back on light rail that runs all night…how cool is that! We biked the last leg of our long multi-modal journey feeling pretty good about navigating such a large area without using a car.