Rolling to RTD Part 8: The R and H Line

Introduction

As we near the end of this series, I wanted to knock out one of the more unfamiliar light rail lines to me. Aurora’s R line and the H-Line, which bisects with other light rail lines, seemed to be the best bet.

Methodology

For this round of RTD Reviews, I ended up starting at the northernmost station on the R Line, the Peoria Station. While most of the stations were covered, I did not make it to the Dayton Station out of fear of the sandstorm erupting around me. Instead, I vouched to get to this station on 12/12. From the Nine Mile Station, I rode the train all the way back home.

Peoria Station

The most northern station of the two lines, Peoria had a lot of positives that I respected. Though riding to it from the west was a bit of a challenge, the secured and unsecured bike facilities that it had were a welcome aspect to it. Route accessibility from the west seemed a lot better, and had some public art that I enjoyed.

Fitzsimons Station

Taking a mix of side streets and a section of the Sand Creek, I made it to my next stop. Fitzsimons was fairly unremarkable, and seemed to cater fairly exclusively to the students at the Anschutz Medical Campus given its proximity to it. The one redeeming factor to the station given its lack of bike parking and secure storage is that the immediate area around the campus is fairly bikeable. I didn’t take a ton of pictures around the station due to the fact it didn’t really seem to have much to offer on its own. Taking side roads to Colfax, I didn’t realize that the true adventure was about to begin.

Colfax Station

As you can somewhat see in the photos, the haboob started around the time that I made it to this station. Similar to the overpass stations along the E-line, the Colfax Station boasted bike parking on its surface level. While I wanted to take the elevator down to ground level, two men had used it as a shelter during the storms to duck away from the storms, requiring me to take my bike down a flight of stairs.

Bike Parking at the bottom of the Colfax Station

Wanting to get home as soon as humanly possible, I braved the dust storm and headed south along a small path on the toll gate creek.

13th Ave Station

When I reached 13th Avenue Station, I realized I would be in the fight of my life against this dust storm. 13th avenue brought back parallels to stations along the N line: small parking lots with adjacent neighborhoods. While there was bike parking at the station, photographing it came second to option 1: survival and literally riding out this storm. Leaving the 13th Ave Station brought me into a route that would turn distinctively more surburban, with the next station off of a portion of the High Lane Canal Trail.

2nd and Abilene

A station marked by a parking lot to the north and the beginning of large parking lots and big box stores on my route, 2nd and Abilene didn’t have any bike parking on it officially. However, the saving grace was the fact that it was off of a major regional trail and the fact that the lot to the south of us had some bike parking. Heading even further south gave me flashbacks to my adventures along the southernmost parts of the E-Line: large hills, large parking lots, and a seemingly endless supply of cars.

Bike Parking at a lot near 2nd and Abilene

Aurora Metro Center Station

After climbing hills and a fair amount of sidewalk surfing, I reached the Metro Center Station. Adjacent both to a large shopping mall and several municipal buildings in Aurora, it had a decent amount of bike parking, though accessibility by bike was somewhat of a challenge coming from my previous destination. It did appear, however, the there was access close to Aurora’s City Center Park. There is also a large bus terminal close to this station as well.

Continuing my journey southbound brought me to a frontage road that I paralleled in neighborhoods due to the high speed and high volume on it.

Florida Station

Getting to the intersection of the H line, I reached Florida Station. Flashbacks to my E-line experience intensified, as I saw the parallels of highway crossing overpasses and very little bike parking. The most remarkable part of the station for me was the 2 way protected bike lane just to the east of it, probably one of the better demonstrations of how such a bike lane can work.

Going towards my penultimate destination of the day proved to be incredibly suburban, though the layout started to change getting close to it.

Iliff Station

Iliff had a lot of similar trappings to transit oriented spaces along both the D and E Lines. Close to developments and walkable spaces, Iliff had a decent amount to offer pedestrians. Riding a bike, however, was frustrating, as there was no sort of parking immediately nearby nor any sort of safe route or bike infrastructure on the roads outside of a small southbound trail to it.

9 Mile Station

Adventuring through another concrete jungle until reaching the Cherry Creek trail, I reached 9 Mile on the border of a sunset. While it is readily accessible via the trail. coming from the north side closer to 285 is something that is a lot more hazardous. There is some bike parking, though the station has parking for over a thousand cars as well. Ending my journey through the haboob at this station, I took the H line home since it was a Sunday night and I had an obligation at my apartment.

Dayton Station

Author’s Note: While I specified this earlier, this route was NOT done on 12/5/2021, the day that I did all the preceding stations. It was ventured to on 12/12/2021.

The last stop along my journey was Dayton. Using the Cherry Creek Trail, High Line Canal, and suburban streets at a nearby development helped me to get to this last stop on both the R and H-Line before it begins to parallel to E Line.

The station itself is similar to other overpass stations, with some bicycle parking near the small drop off lot in the neighborhood and a bridge and elevator to the station itself. There is a path that leads to the various biking trails in Cherry Street State Park, and the neighborhood is close to the Hampden Heights trails and the major arterials mentioned above.

Final Thoughts

Save for a couple of adventures along major trails, the H and R lines were an adventure into some of the most suburban elements of the metro area. It was fairly remarkable that a large majority of the stations had some form of bike parking, though accessibility for people riding a bike was hit or mix. A lot of this could be solved with bike infrastructure such as the two way protected bike lane near the Florida Station, and other traffic calming measures. Overaly, however, the adventure through the Aurora suburbs was a mixed to good eperience.

Featured image is of a public art piece at the Peoria Station

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