Rolling to RTD Part 2: The Southwest Suburb

In 2013, The City of Littleton did a rebrand of its logo and created a new slogan. This slogan “Anything But Little”, could also encapsulate my experience exploring the ins and outs of the Southwest Line, which spans 8.7 miles from Broadway to Mineral Avenue down in Arapahoe County. For this post, I would like to have a narrative in regards to not only the stations, but the journeys to them.

Disclaimer: As a high bike theft city and region, bicycle parking in the Denver Metro area is a risk. Be cautious when you do, and do it at your discretion and comfort level

The Approach

Starting a little further up at 10th and Osage, I planned my route parallel to the rail, starting in the early afternoon on a Sunday. When I reached Mineral, I took the train to Littleton Downtown Station due to the fact I had a birthday related thing to go to.

The Southwest Line

10th and Osage Station

A station that acts as a fork between Union Station and Lower Downtown, 10th and Osage is fairly approachable by bike. I took the 13th Ave Protected Bike Lane until I hit the nearby park, La Alma Lincoln Park, and turned left unto the street itself.

The streets immediately around the station have scant bike infrastructure, with a mix of sharrows and unprotected bike lanes surrounding it. As a station that see high traffic in peak hours from the workers at the nearby Denver Housing Authority and riders heading both north and south, 10th and Osage was fairly low traffic on that Sunday. Along with this, the accessibility of bike parking was an attribute that made the experience at the station an overall positive experience for me.

Alameda Station

Heading away from the downtown core, I took a mix of bike lanes and side streets to the Alameda Station. The station provides bike parking, and has some unprotected bike lanes nearby. Accessing it from Alameda, however, is something that can be difficult at times, including that Sunday due to heavy afternoon traffic along the streets. With the construction finally completed on that corner, however, it is significantly easier to access the station. However, I would recommend going through the parking lot adjacent to the station, as it has some helpful bike facilities in it and acts as the end of the unfinished Broadway Bike Lane

The Street facing away from Alameda Station

I25 and Broadway Station

As the actual beginning of the line, I25 and Broadway portended a lot of what was to come. From a difficult to navigate parking lot, a ton of street traffic along the station, and a lack of bike infrastructure for parking nor navigation, I felt nervous getting to the platform. However, as a station it acts moreso as a hub for other buses and trains, and had some of the best facilities for waiting in extreme weather conditions, which I appreciated.

Evans Station

Entrance to the Evans Station

Heading into southwest Denver, I noticed that bike infrastructure had almost completely disappeared outside of signs designating a street as a “bike highway”. Sidewalks began to narrow, and roads widened significantly, with the main road heading down to Evans Station being my main artery.

Compared to the Broadway and Alameda Station, Evans felt hidden behind the large development in front of it. A couple of bike lockers and bike racks served as a place for storage, but beyond that the station had a entrance that, if uninitiated, a person could easily miss.

Streets immediately nearby had no bike infrastructure, though they were fairly low traffic when I arrived at Evans Station. I stopped at the station as a brief resting point, contemplating what crossing into Arapahoe County would bring me.

Englewood Station

As I entered Englewood Station, I learned quickly Arapahoe County would be a different level of intensity. Car traffic was up, partially due to the passing of time, but also owing to the fact the station is situated near a large shopping center and many attractions on South Broadway.

The station itself is extravagant, serving as the anchor to the library and the Museum of Outdoor Art. Bike parking is plentiful, while riding in the immediate vicinity is difficult due to the bottleneck of the road nearby.

Due to the elevator not being in service, getting to the station required me to ride up a ramp wide a small sidewalk in front of it (pictured above, right). To me, positioning the ramp near the main bus terminal of the station didn’t make much sense, as having it parallel to the stairs would help with ease of access. Nonetheless, I was impressed by the large pedestrian features that the station had, and enjoyed some of the surrounding art despite having some difficulty with nearby streets.

Oxford/City of Sheridan Station

Moving southward, I began to see some small signs of infrastructure. A sharrow reminded me of the lip service much of the Front Range gives to bicycles, and I headed towards Oxford.

Oxford was a station that seemed like a near copy and paste of Evans Station, minus the bike racks in front. It felt small, with a ramp similar to Englewood as a way for bikes to get to and from. The one plus of this station is the fact infrastructure around it seemed to be slightly more robust than the preceding station. However, lack of open bike parking made this station one that seemed unfinished in a sense.

Littleton Downtown Station

After a journey that prompted me to get on the South Platte River Trail via a Santa Fe frontage road, I ended up at Littleton Downtown.

The navigation from the Platte River trail to a small creek-side trail was fairly direct, with entrances to the station from practically all directions. Car traffic was higher, as the station intersects with many of the major thoroughfares of the city and has a large parking lot. The only way to access the station without carrying my bike was a narrow ramp that was somewhat difficult to navigate

While I have often used this station to visit relatives in Centennial, the one thing I noticed upon arriving was the lack of a card reader adjacent to the pay kiosk. Though there was another card reader below, I realized it could possibly render confusion for a first time rider.

Overall, the station a bit of a mess from an accessibility standpoint, with a person having to walk across the parking lot to access it.

Littleton Mineral Station

As I ended my tour, I reached the most congested and difficult part. Mineral is near a major road, and styles itself after other stations that are more park and ride oriented. The one saving grace it had was some decent bike facilities, both racks and lockers. It still left a bad taste in my mouth, as I had to sidewalk surf a good portion of the way to the station.

Final Thoughts

The biggest takeaway from this journey was seeing the bike infrastructure shift once I reached Arapahoe County. It was based more on side streets and trails more so than Denver County, which was more physical and road based. Arapahoe county tended to have a lot of ramps as an accommodation for bikes to get to raised stations, of which I had not encountered any similar in Denver proper. Infrastructure at most of the stations save Oxford had some sort of accommodation for locking up, vs the downtown stations that were mixed in this regards. Overall, they were fairly easily navigable to, with car traffic being the major concern as I went south.

Next week, I will be exploring the sections along the Northwest B Line

Featured Photo is the Alameda Station.

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