Jake Pelton is the quintessential adventurer. Loving to ride a bike, catching a good concert, and caring about his environmental impact, Jake always looks for the opportunity to challenge himself to be a better person and have great experiences.
Recently, Jake decided to attempt a trip to Red Rocks to see indie groove band Goose. The catch? He would only use public transportation and his bike.
“Going into the trip, I felt pretty good” Jake told me, noting that the weather seemed to be cooperating and his bike was tuned up. Drawing on experiences from others, Jake realized that, though the route wasn’t ideal, it was rideable and seemed like it would work out well.
Conceding that there were a few hills to climb up once the W line reached Jefferson County Government Center, Jake noted that there were many special moments on the bike ride itself. “The first great moment was biking over the crest of Dinosaur Ridge and catching the first sight of Red Rocks… I got to soak in the natural beauty of the area.”
As he rolled towards the park, Jake felt a deeper connection to the natural beauty of the space, contrasting it with drivers that would have to wait in long lines in order to find parking. The next great joy that he had was getting to ring his bell at drivers as he passed by them, getting a sort of priority when it came to both parking and traffic.
In total, the trip took an hour and a half from catching the 5:13 W Line at Union Station to parking at the upper lot at
Coming Backand Lessons Learned
The one major issue with the trip was having to ride all the way back to Denver, which Jake noted took a little bit over an hour. For him, the largest issue was connectivity. “I had hopes of catching the W Line train heading eastbound back to Denver, but on Thursdays the last one runs at 10:56pm. On Fridays and Saturdays, the last train runs at 12:56am so it would be possible to catch a full show and still make the train” Jake opined, stating overall that there need to be more connections to Red Rocks without having to use a car. “As a Denver mountain park managed by Denver Parks & Recreation, [Denver Should] work on creating more options for concert-goers to get there without having to drive.” saying that having an experience like his would be great for people who could leave the car at home.
Featured Photo is a shot of Jake’s bike ride to Red Rocks, courtesy of Jake Pelton
In less than a month, RTD will embark on a grand experiment when it comes to being a completely fare-free system. While this may be a good thing that will increase ridership, similar to the fare free February that Utah has had, there is one policy change RTD can make to increase ridership during
Beyond the generally accepted belief that cities should prepare for the growth of E-Bike use by using best practices such as creating more bike lanes, low stress routes, and increasing secure places to park a bike, e-bikes should be allowed to be used on public transportation. Currently, RTD bans electric bikes, stemming from the fact that earlier models of the bikes had internal combustion engines that were gasoline based. Given that the technology has evolved since this policy was put in place, a carve-out should exist for E-bikes that are battery powered, which constitute the majority of E-Bikes sold today.
With the influx of E-bike ridership and a fare free RTD, changing this rule could be a gamechanger both for individual E-Bike riders wanting to explore more of the Front Range and RTD as a whole in creating a new group of riders. If you are interested in changing this rule, consider signing the following petition to get the ban rescinded.
Happy Monday, and hope to see you out on the trails.
*Featured photo is of Shalon Bowens with her Momentum LaFree E+ eBike outside her home in Denver’s Central Park neighborhood. Bowens received the bike for free last October.Photo Credit to Sam Brasch of CPR News*
As the winter trudges on and snow falls on the ground, the days of riding intercity become less and less frequent. However, before this series completely goes into hibernation, I wanted to finish up with one of the most intriguing light rail lines: The W-Line.
Unlike other lines, the W-Line has a loose bikeway that comprises a majority of the stations. While many of the other light rail lines in the system often go through population centers such as Union Station or Olde Town Arvada, the W Line is incredibly suburban, ending at the Jefferson County Government Center.
Like previous rides, I decided to choose the most direct and safest route to get to the end of the line. A portion of this review will also cover the W-Line bikeway, given that it is a major route in JeffCo.
Coming from the Lakewood Gulch trail, I made it to Decatur-Federal. A station often used as a destination for Broncos games, Decatur Federal has a decent amount of bike accessibility from the east, though has the worst of the trappings of Federal Blvd if accessed from the west. It has a wide range of multimodal available, with bus lines lining the way along West Howard Place and scooters throughout.
From the station, I hopped unto the Lakewood Gulch trail and headed west towards my next destination.
Using the Lakewood Gulch Trail, I went down to the Knox Station.
The Station, similar to Decatur-Federal, was right off of the trail itself. One of the valuable aspects of it is the fact that it is near a good transit oriented development. Along with this, trail accessibility is a major boon for this location. I felt fairly comfortable jumping off the trail to the station, though I could see issues when it comes to car traffic on Knox Court at more impacted times of the day.
With bike facilities, a bus stop, and access to rideshare, Knox had the best of the trappings of stations along this route for people who walk, bike, and ride.
Perry Station had a lot of similarities with Knox, with the major difference being the lack of nearby development. At this station, there is a multiuse path just north of it that can be used to arrive at the next Station. With some bike parking facilities and a mix of apartments and suburbia nearby, this station acts as an in between for both residents of Lakewood and Denver.
At the end of Lakewood Gulch Trail lies the Sheridan Station. Similar to the Louisiana Pearl Station, it has an elevator that goes to the main street level. Unlike that station, there are a lot of nearby developments that make the station fairly “central”. Bike Parking is fairly abundant, albeit using the “hanging” parking scheme.
Heading westbound, the Lakewood Gulch Trail transformed into an icy mess. West 11th Avenue was snowy and felt removed from the rest of my journey. When I reached Harlan, I turned unto the W-Line Bikeway and headed towards Lamar.
Lamar Station was one of the odd stations out of this line in a couple ways. With no bike or car parking and no central bus port, it felt like a pass thru station, made mainly for people that lived in the complex across the street and the occasional rider on the nearby bikeway. It was incredibly accessible on the trail, however, but lacked facilities that would be great to lock up a bike on a trip into Golden or into Denver.
Lakewood-Wadsworth was a station that reminded me of several different overpass stations along the E-Line: Accessible via elevator, some but not complete protection from the elements, and some bike parking. Getting here from the W-Line bikeway, however, was slightly difficult.
Because of the lack of exposure, the path leading to the station had a thin stripe of snow on the Westbound side. Parts of the W-line had this issue, with some parts with zero exposure being nearly un-rideable at times.
Garrison Station had all the trappings of a “neighborhood” station. Off the direct path of the W-Line Bikeway, the only accessibility to the station is through the neighborhoods with no bus nearby. Of note, however, is the fact the station is adjacent to a large apartment complex with a ton of parking. Across the tracks, there is some area for bike parking. While somewhat accessible, the amount of local car traffic and snowiness of side streets was off-putting for me.
Back when I lived in East Golden/West Lakewood, this station was the one that I most commonly used. With the bikeway going right through it, a small bus hub nearby, and a lovely view of the foothills, the Oak Station seems to have it all. It also is near fairly new development, and with nearby empty lots, could possibly be developed even more. My one qualm with it is that the large amount of parking both during my ride and during previous rides has often made it congested with car traffic.
Federal Center Station
Diverging from the main route of the bikeway down towards Union Blvd, I made it out to the Federal Center Station. Unlike the previous stations along the route, Federal Center was difficult to access as a bicycle rider, with no direct path outside of brief sidewalk surfing down union.
While there is some bike parking, what is of note is the enormous 1,000 space parking lot adjacent to it. The increased car traffic along it made it difficult to navigate via street, with me using an ADA ramp to descend down into the station.
The car centric nature of it negated the few bike parking spaces in the station, and made me feel “unsafe” to a degree along it. Going back towards the next station, I guiltily sidewalk surfed until I made it to the frontage road.
Red Rocks Community College Station
Veering far off the W-Line Bikeway, I made it to this station. In almost every way, I would not recommend riding to it unless you are headed eastbound and are using the sidewalk. Car traffic, while not awful, is fast, and the rolling hills often mean that you can lose momentum and go significantly slower around here.
Beyond this, as several alumni have told me, the station is not really positioned in an appropriate spot relative to its namesake, with a hill that has to be walked up and down to get the the college. All in all, it is a niche station that functionally serves one purpose: to get the the community college.
Jeffco Government Center
The end of the line gets you to to JeffCo’s government center. While it is a nice area due to the nearby bike and pedestrian paths around it, the fact that the W-Line ends there is somewhat baffling. Though it is helpful to government workers and anyone with business in government, not ending near downtown Golden feels like a missed opportunity. Despite this, there is a fairly bike-able path to golden that is nearby, and bike parking both at the station and in different areas of the government center.
The W-Line is a line that has a lot of potential, both realized and unrealized. With a bikeway that allows for ease of access for most of it and developments going along adjacent, it has the ability to be used by much more people if facilities along it are maintained and some sort of connection outside of the FlexRide Service in Golden. Perhaps, as some communities have done in the past, a fixed route circulator to downtown and points of interest would be of use. Until that happens, the W-Line, like the unfinished painting of George Washington, remains alluring but incomplete.
Featured Image is an artistic piece along the Oak Station
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
Due to the fact that we have had a relatively mild and dry winter, I have decided to continue this series, hoping to finish it up by the New Year. During this episode, we will be adventuring to Arvada and Wheat Ridge via the G-Line.
Similar to previous adventures, I opted to take the route that Google took me on, with common sense variations along the way. I did not cover stations that had already been covered, and took the Wheat Ridge/Ward Train back.
Clear Creek/Federal Station
After braving the car centered infrastructure to the south, the Clear Creek and Federal Station was very much a relief. With a small park, bicycle parking, and adjacency to the Clear Creek Trail, it felt like a fairly central place to put a station.
With nearby bike lanes, it felt comfortable compared to the adventures through Denver Northside neighborhoods to get there. Taking the Clear Creek Trail west for a spell helped me get to my next route.
60th/Sheridan-Gold Strike Station
The station near the beginning of the Gold Rush in Colorado, Gold Strike Station felt incredibly like a suburban station that wouldn’t be out of place along routes on the N line, with a medium to large parking lot and a neighborhood adjacent. There is some bike parking around, but the lot seems to be the biggest draw to the station, despite being half used at the time that I headed up to it.
Olde Town Arvada Station
I will openly admit that I may be slightly biased. Besides Littleton Downtown during the Criterion, Olde Town Arvada is my favorite suburban downtown area, with most streets along the main drag completely closed off to cars. The station itself shines too, with bike parking and one of the few bathrooms in the entire RTD system. While I want to keep this blog focused on the stations and accessibility, I would be remiss not to show some of the highlights of Olde Town.
Heading from Olde Town was hard, given that I felt blessed in probably the most accessible suburban downtown in the metro area.
Arvada Ridge Station
Heading from Old Town, I accessed Arvada Ridge from a somewhat highly trafficked side road. The biggest saving grace of this station for me was the large amount of bike racks and being near mixed used properties. It felt like a place that was partially under construction and still developing its identity as transit oriented.
Continuing down the same road led me to my final destination.
Wheat Ridge/Ward Station
The Wheat Ridge/Ward Station had a very “coming soon” feeling to it. With apartments and a parking garage under construction, it feels somewhat premature to judge it. There was, however, bicycle parking and the road reaching it started to thin out after leaving the other station. Similar to the Lone Tree City Center Station, time will tell how effective it is.
The G line is anchored by two downtowns ultimately: Union and Old Town. While Union hasn’t changed much, Arvada’s transformation of the core of Old Town to being completely car free is an inspiration. Bike wise, having parking at every single station was very much a boon for me, and using side streets and the Clear Creek trail was significantly more comfortable in regards to what I had to do along other suburban RTD corridors. I would venture to say the G line may be the most accessible by bike second only to the W Line, which has a literal bikeway on it.
During our next adventure, I will tackle both the R and H Line. Until then, stay tuned.
Featured image is of barricades near a parking garage in Arvada separating the carless street from the cars.
As I continued my journey through RTD, I realized that it would make more sense to venture up the N-Line instead of the W Line for a couple reasons. First and foremost, it would act as a contrast to the south suburbs and southernmost point of Lone Tree. Second, a Broncos game at Mile High would mean that the train would be crowded right when I would get on at the end of the day, whereas the N-Line was dead on my way back into Denver. With this change of plan, I started my journey towards the N-Line
Similar to previous adventures, my goal was to take the most straightforward and bike able route to each of the stations. If a route took me in a place that had high traffic, I would try and find a serviceable detour.
48th and Brighton/National Western Center
As I navigated through the detours that construction near I70 presented up towards Northside, I realized this was going to be a bit of a challenge getting out of Denver. Historically located in an area of Denver where bike infrastructure is scant, it was a welcome change to have a raised bike lane along Brighton Boulevard
The station can be accessed by bike if you take the ramp, and has a decent amount of bike parking. Getting from the station to my next destination, however, would be somewhat of a trek.
Commerce City and 72nd
After a journey that led me through Riverside Cemetery and along frontage roads to the South Platte Trail, I arrived at the Commerce City and 72nd Station.
The station had similar amounts of bike parking, with a bit of industry that felt off putting for the station, and caused a cloud to occasionally come over the station. Buses seemed to go along the route of the N line, and a large parking lot was the anchor for the whole station.
What followed after this station was a diversion that took me through a gravel-y area that I partially blame for my front tire getting a flat after the ride itself. After navigating further up the South Platte River Trail towards the station, I began my first bout of paralleling a road, where my journey would pause once again.
Original Thornton & 88th
Taking the adjacent road through a large high school campus and then to an adjoining trail, Original 88th and Thornton had the benefit of being near a few accessible places from bike trails and the streets.
There is some bicycle parking available near the bus terminals, with a large parking lot adjacent to the bike parking, and a ramp that leads up to the station.
As I headed up towards the next station, I got some relief due to a multiuse path that lead partially up there. The rest of the adventure there was through suburbia and across a couple of major intersections, which were relatively low stress.
Thornton Crossroads & 104th
Adjacent to a shopping center on one side and suburbia on the other, Thornton Crossroads and 104th Station acts as the prototypical RTD station, with some bike parking and a large parking garage. While there is a navigable route from the neighborhood, getting to the station from the other side would require navigation that would take a rider across at least across one major intersection or across an unpaved section of gravel, the latter which I took towards our next station.
Northglenn & 112th
After taking a multi-use path and having to parallel 112th Ave for a decent amount of time, I got to our penultimate stop along the line.
The Northglenn and 112th was one of the rarer stations that had wayfinding for a bicycle from the street adjacent to it. Bike parking was there, with a medium sized parking lot adjacent to it
Heading anywhere within the immediate vicinity of the area requires someone to go through either suburbia or along the major artery of York Street. As such, I took a suburban route to make it to my final destination.
Eastlake and 124th
Getting to Eastlake and 124th was a mix of using a road through suburbia and crossing a somewhat hard to navigate three way intersection. The final stop along the rail was near a small business district to the right, and an empty lot to the left.
Bike parking was available around the area, and it felt very walkable.
For me, the closest parallel to the N-Line in content and the surrounding was not necessarily the E-Line, But the D-Line. It went through several neighborhoods and suburbs, though the overall feel of the line was overwhelmingly suburban whereas there were still urban elements of the D-Line.
Bike-ability along the line was fairly decent, with the adventures along paths, bike lanes, and suburban streets lessening my worries of getting from place to place. Parking a bicycle was about on par with the E-Line, which is to say that it was adequate at best. Overall, if I was someone that was in the Northern Suburbs along the N line north of the Commerce City station, it would be a good choice to make the trip downtown.
Taking a Break
Due to a few different life circumstances and the fact that Daylight Savings time is imminent, I will be taking a break of undetermined time from the series. In the meantime, I will be writing on and off about other subjects related to urbanism. Stay tuned.
Featured Image is a processing facility for Brannan Sand and Gravel Adjacentto the N-Line
As I ventured into the Tech Center on my first journey, I knew that the characteristics of the latter half of the trek down the E-Line would be cumbersome enough that it would take a second day to complete. Similar to the first part, I ventured down doing the recommended route along Google Maps, which largely paralleled the highway along frontage roads, exploring the stations that I saw along the way.
The second of the core 3-4 stations that make up the Tech Center, Orchard Station had a lot of the themes I would find along the route: pedestrian overpasses over I25.
From the east side of the Tech Center, there were some paths and a small amount of bike racks on the non-train size of the station, with some near the bus stops. As I made my towards the next station, I realized my journey would change, with the core roads being moderately trafficked at their best, congested and highway adjacent at their worst.
Arapahoe at Village Center Station
This station has two separate aspects to it: one is a bus terminal that has routes to several of the suburban parts of Centennial. The second component of it is the actual station. Immediately around the bus side of the station, it was pretty bike-able given that the it is separated from the parking lot. The station is a little unique in regards to walkability partially because of its closeness to Fiddler’s Green, a large outdoor amphitheater with mediocre sound quality that hosts national acts.
Bike racks were plentiful, and the ramp leading up to the main road was a good feature. As I went southbound, I thought that this was the best station along the route so far.
Dry Creek Station
In some ways, Dry Creek Station had a lot of the good aspects of the preceding station. A small separated bus terminal from the main parking lot, a major overpass to reach both sides of the Tech Center, and a decent amount of bike racks on each side were defining characteristics that acted as a mirror to the last station.
The bit that put it over the top was an inside area to wait underneath the station. While protection from the elements was relatively uniform from Orchard to Arapahoe at Village Center station, this felt like something made for the worst of winter in the metro, and was something that I really enjoyed about this station. Taking a street on the end of the Tech Center that went past the giant Ikea, I believed that this may have surpassed the Arapahoe Station, and may be the best of what I would experience.
County Line Station
County Line was proof of my hypothesis in a lot of ways. Having two levels of overpasses for the highway, it felt harder to navigate the area easily as a rider. The station small bit more difficult to navigate, and had a smaller amount of bike facilities than the previous station
The one saving grace of the station was the fact that it was close to the multiuse C470 trail, which helped as I went to my next destination.
In comparison to County Line, Lincoln Station was tiny. As a station that is completely outside of the Tech Center and closer to the suburbs of Lone Tree, the station seems built more for suburbanites headed to work, with not much beyond a parking lot and the odd bike rack or two.
The one thing I noticed as I headed to and from this station was the smaller amount of density when it came to housing and commercial real estate, really starting to see it once I got to a section of housing that was being developed. The last two stations on my journey south would see this trend continue, but not before one last sign of civilization.
Out of all the stations that I visited during my ride, this station had the most amount of residential density surrounding it. The amount of transit oriented development was impressive, along with the lack of a major parking lot nearby.
With wide ramps, ample bike parking, and literally being adjacent to Train Station road, Skyridge has a large amount of potential for folks in the Lone Tree area that want to live nearby and don’t necessarily want to car commute to work. As I rode from a heaven of a station, I didn’t realize the hell that I was getting into.
Lone Tree City Center Station
While Skyridge was accessible to people from every angle, Lone Tree City Center was the least accessible along the route. With the only way to get there being a frontage road, pedestrians have no access to the station. There is no parking here for bikes, cars and bused and no buses that ran to me, making this station absolutely baffling and useless to me. The explanation is that transit oriented development, including a huge city city, is planned for the location, which justifies the fact it is seemingly nowhere.
After having to cross under I25 on the road itself, I reached the final stop on the destination. flanked by a 1,300 space parking lot and some bike parking. It seems built primarily to be a park and ride for now, but is also planned to be part of the city center being planned for Lone Tree. It will be interesting how things developed; but, similar to the last station, it is still very half formulated.
The latter half of the E-Line is starkly divided into two categories. From Orchard to Lincoln it is a cacophony of several elements: The density of the large office park that is the Denver Tech Center, large outlets, and suburbs. Skybridge to Ridgegate is a story of change, as development will make the nature of the stations transform over time. Overall, however, I felt like a lot of the area was difficult to navigate around, with the aspect of I25 being the anchor both a detriment to the stations and to the line as a whole for different reasons. One improvement, which parallels what happened along 36, would be some sort of separated bikeway that leads to the various stations and connected with the c-470 bikeway. Until then, however, it would be a fool’s errand to visit a decent amount of these stations by bike unless immediately next to them in some regards.
In the next chapter, I will be taking the W line bikeway out to Golden. Stay Tuned
As we continue our journey to light rail stops throughout the metro, I figured it would be prudent to split the southeastern line into two distinctive parts, given the length that it covers.
For this part, I focused on going from the Louisiana-Pearl station, ending at Belleview so I could talk briefly about the Tech Center. From Belleview, I took a ride back to 10th and Osage.
Lousiana Pearl Station
Located near Platte Park, Louisiana Pearl reminded me of the Pecos Junction station, minus the parking. It has two tiers of levels, and is located near a large amount of car traffic.
Some bicycle racks were located nearby, as were the typical elevators that allowed me to descend to the station at ease. The biggest problem with this station is the junction it is at having a minimal amount of wayfinding for someone on a bike, a feature that made it one of the more perilous journeys on my path.
University of Denver Station
As I journeyed down Buchtel towards University Station, some minor trails and bike lanes appeared. It still paralleled traffic, but having them felt like a minor pat on the back.
The station itself has some odd bike parking facilities closer to some of the bus stops along the way. Additionally, as a university campus, there are some areas that are more or less bikeable due to the nature of the paths through them. That being said, with wide roads just to the east, I knew my challenges along this route had just begun.
Colorado Station is a stop that I am intimately familiar with. Being a major point of transit prior to riding my bike, I experienced it as a pedestrian several times with frustration, having to walk over Evans and I25 to reach it.
The station itself is accessible by elevator, though gets overwhelmed by crowds. There are some bicycle facilities, secure and racks. and a pedestrian bridge into the Virginia Village area. That being said, the terror of having to cross Evans to the south, particularly when it came to getting groceries, was a thing that made this particular station terrifying to me when it was my regular stop.
As I crossed Evans and navigated through both high and low stress neighborhoods, I made it to the Yale Station, making its home right above I25.
The access point for bikes reminded me of many of the Southwestern Suburb stations; that is to say it is a ramp going up.
There are some bike racks along the bottom level, but accessing the station from the street was a minor challenge, as there was not a lot of wayfinding or nearby bicycle facilities. From Yale, I crossed under I25, making my way towards Monaco.
The last major station before the northernmost tip of the Denver Tech Center, Southmoor is surrounded by a large parking lot with some bike racks near the bus stations. Acting as a second hub similar to Colorado Station, it has a bike lane adjacent to it on Monaco that leads further down into the southeast suburbs of Denver.
A ramp acted as the facility that I used to get to the station, calling back to my experience at the Westminster Station, minus the nearby park and parking garage. There were two elevators at the bottom, acting as my way up to the station.
I continued my journey southbound, heading into the last station technically in Denver, Belleview
While many of the surrounding buildings are technically in Glendale and the feel of the area is equivalent to the Tech Center, Belleview Station is at one of the most southern points in the area
Belleview to me felt like a natural dividing line, with a mix of bicycle facilities including trails and unprotected lanes leading me to it, and the clear lack of them immediately surrounding the area. The station has parking for bikes, with a semi-large parking lot and construction going on nearby.
Finishing this stretch of the tour of light rails was one of the more difficult challenges of my biking career. Given that the E and R-line to an extent parallel I25, car culture was bountiful and reinforced by the large parking lots at or nearby a majority of stations. As my journey southward continues, I am expected a lot more of the same. Join me next week when I adventure to the southeastern most tip of RTD light rail.
Featured Image is of the “entrance” to the Tech Center
Perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of RTD rail happening right now is in regards to the Northwest Rail. A line that is expected to go to Boulder, the B-Line has been delayed several times since the initial buildout of rail started under Fastracks.
However, I don’t want to speak much to the controversy, suffice to say this was one of the shorter yet most daunting trips I have made along a light rail corridor. The area that I covered along this shift is highlighted in violet.
Like the previous two posts, I decided to take the most direct and bikeable routes when I could, with a slight exception made to check out bicycle infrastructure in the Northside. I chose to leave for this trip on Monday afternoon shortly before five as a way to gauge what it would feel like to ride in rush hour traffic, and took every opportunity to use the facilities (elevators, ramps, etc) to get my bike from point A to point B at the stations.
41st and Fox Station
After taking a route that led me unto Inca, I used an elevator to get to the bridge, which led over to the main platform of the 41st and Fox Station
The one thing that I noticed over on the Inca side was how transit oriented the station was. There were several recent developments that had sprung up that made it walkable on that side, and it felt comfortable accessing it from the adjacent multiuse trail.
On the other side, there was an almost completely empty lot, a contrast that felt incredibly striking next to dense housing. While there was a small amount of bicycle parking near the front and lanes adjacent, the surrounding environment still felt very hostile to riding. From here, I worked my way to the Pecos Station
The In-Between: A Quick Word on the Northside
Before I begin, I just want to make a quick note: I have not lived in any neighborhoods or communities during my time in Denver that are considered to be part of “Northside” and have ridden through it a handful of times. This is what I experienced in my time riding through.
The biggest takeaway from my experience in regards to the neighborhood was that it was largely shaped by the highways that were forced through it, including I70 and I25. Bike lanes were scarce, and neighborhood streets were not as developed nor paved as those in other neighborhoods in the metro area.
I cut across a dirt lot at Lincoln and 48th that was adjacent to train tracks, taking it as a way to detour some of the more treacherous parts of Pecos. As I rode upon one of the heaviest sections of Pecos through construction and an overpass, I thought to myself “how could I manage this if I didn’t own a bike?” This rhetorical question ate at me as I crossed over to the next station.
Pecos Junction Station
The station was right on the other side of the Pecos overpass. To reach it, I took a relatively moderately trafficked road to another mostly empty empty parking lot with a small bike rack in the front. Similar to the Fox Station, there was an elevator I could take down to the main track.
As I left the station and headed towards Westminster, the concept of induced demand swirled around in my head. While I had a bike rack at most stations that could generously fit up to 6-7 bikes, lots like this can store dozens to hundreds of cars. I often wonder what it would be like if housing and more bike facilities existed at places like this versus empty lots. The inaccessibility to pedestrians hurt me the most regarding this station, with it being treacherous to navigate by foot to it from Pecos because of car traffic.
I wondered this as I headed north towards Westminster
After descending from the overpass to an underpass to Westminster, I got to the first trail I had seen since leaving the Fox Station. The Dry Creek Trail was absolutely lovely with all of the flowers along it.
This station has a special place so far in this series, as one of the only ones that has a direct path to it from a trail.
With some bike facilities including lanes and parking on both sides of the station, along with elevators and a direct trail up to it, it felt very accessible by bike, and mirrored some of the stations in the Southwest Suburbs. Thought frequency of trains was considerably less than I wished it to be heading home, it was nice to have the lovely views in and around the station.
Though this episode was shorter than others, the vastness of the parking lots really defined these stations, which felt to me like a waste of space since they were sparsely used by vehicles. With recently passed policy that encourages RTD to develop affordable housing, it seems like the 41st and Fox and Pecos Junction lots should be at the very least considered for the program to help fight the housing crisis in the metro area and give people more options to live near transit.
Featured Image is the RTD Platform at the Westminster Station
WARNING: There is a NSFW Image near the end of this piece
As I begin this series, I wanted to explore the light rail stations closest to the Central Business District, Five Points, and all of the area east of I25. With these stations compromising a large number of the “core” RTD ridership, it seemed important to see what facilities are available to make them bike-friendly or not. Outside of Union Station, which I will save for a later blog where I talk about both it and Civic Center Station, I explored all stations in the black square below.
Disclaimer: Given the history that Denver, particularly the Downtown area, has had with bike theft, I would exercise extreme caution in regards to locking up your bikes at many of these stops given the closeness to recent bike thefts and hot spots for bike thefts. On a personal level, I try to have line of sight when I am downtown and have a bike locked up.
I started at the station closest to my home, which happens to be the 18th and California Station. From there, I took a ride up the L Line, doubling back until I reached the Central Business District. From there, I headed to the Auraria Campus to check out the two Light Rail stations there, following the path of the lines until I hit Union Station
18th and California
I began my journey at the last stop on the D and H Line and the second stop on the L line. In the realm of downtown stations, this one was a tad scary to get to due to high traffic levels and lack of any bike facilities on 18th Avenue.
Accessing this station was not too difficult for me fortunately given it was curbside, and didn’t have any major barriers to getting to it.
20th and Welton
Following Welton Street northbound, I stopped at the 20th and Welton station, noting how similar it seemed to the 18th and California station. The major difference between 20th and Welton and the 18th and California station is the fact that Welton itself has a bike lane that terminates at 20th, making the station more accessible. However, like 18th and California, there truly aren’t any facilities or nearby places to lock a bike to.
25th and Welton
As I ventured further towards
As I ventured further towards Five Points, the major traffic along Welton started to disperse a tad. I also began to notice that, despite not being near the light rail stations, there were more places that I could lock up along the path of the rail.
When I reached 25th and Welton, the first impression that I had was that the density of the residential properties nearby, along with seemingly low traffic side streets, would make this a great station for people to walk or bike to from nearby. 25th and Welton felt like the beginning of a less car traffic oriented station, and felt “comfortable” to reach.
Mirroring my comments in regards to the 25th and Welton Station, 27th and Welton had a lot of the same pros. My one concern with this station comparatively is that it doesn’t really have any covering or shelter to wait under, which could easily make it frustrating to wait at in the midst of winter or the worst of summer heat.
30th and Downing
The L line terminates in the midst of Five Points at 30th and Downing, which acts as a hub for the reason. While the intersection is a little difficult to navigate and car traffic is significantly more pronounced here, there are some amenities including a pedestrian signal that make it a little more navigable too.
This is the first station along my journey that also had dedicated bicycle infrastructure for locking up. Unfortunately, due to high traffic volume and lack of bicycle infrastructure, it was one of the other scary stations to get to without some level of sidewalk surfing.
18th and Stout
Using the bike lane on Champa to get back down to 18th, I was impressed about the places to lock my bike near the courthouse. The station also seemed significantly more pedestrian friendly than its Northbound equivalent along 18th and California, with a large area with trees and benches to sit around waiting for the train. While traffic is heavier down here by nature, the closeness to the Champa bike lane made it feel more navigable than other downtown station.
16th and Stout
Using Champa as an artery, I got to the 16th and Stout Station, walking my bike a short distance along the 16th Street mall. The large amount of access by pedestrians is one of the biggest takeaways that I got from this station. Along with being caddy corner to a large pedestrian mall, the station is next to two heavily frequented drug stores on that same mall. Though non-pedestrian traffic was less around this area, the lack of any secure bicycle facilities nearby save what was around the Mall itself was something that concerned me, along with being required to dismount along the mall for good safety purposes.
16th and California has a lot of the same drawbacks as its sister station on Stout. Lack of bike facilities, a lot of foot traffic and un-rideable streets make this a difficult stop for bicycle riders. That being said, the stop itself is never particularly crowded given that its a place that a lot of people get off on their way to downtown, which gives it a hair of friendliness to bicycle riders above the Stout Stop
Theatre District Convention Center
Situated directly under the Colorado Convention Center, the Theatre District/Convention Center stop is possibly my favorite in all of Lower Downtown. From a nearby protected bike lane on 14th to navigate to, bicycle parking located at the station, and a covering above it that prevents the worst of the elements during the summertime and winter. With all of these ingredients, it works out to a good station that has moderate to high foot traffic depending on the time of day.
Colfax at Auraria Station
Heading southbound from Lower Downtown, I took a pathway through the Auraria campus to make it towards Colfax at Auraria.
While there is no bike parking immediately around the station, the campus has several racks that a person can hook their bike up to as a way to secure it. Additionally, a bike parking facility on the Auraria campus requiring key card access is available to use as well by students.
Though the station is easy to get to on the mostly pedestrian campus that also has fairly delineated sections for bicycles, getting to the station from Colfax, given that it is a major artery for car traffic, is something that I would not recommend unless you are coming from a street directly across from the station.
After visiting Colfax at Auraria, I headed west towards the Auraria West Campus. With some bike parking in the station, streets that had token sharrows and little traffic along them, and a fairly easy way to exit and enter the station, the Auraria West station felt like the more accessible of the two Auraria stations.
Empower (Or whoever owns the naming right when you read this) At Mile High Station
Taking the street adjacent to the Auraria West station led me along the path to Empower Field at Mile High.
Out of all the stations that I had visited over the course of this ride, Empower field was by far the least accessible by bike. With turnstiles and low level fencing, there was really only one way to get in or out by bike.
Despite there being some places to lock up my bike and low level traffic (though, to qualify, I didn’t do this on a game day) Empower Field was lacking, mostly seemingly like a place for pedestrians to use to get to Mile High while bicycle riders could use the nearby S. Platte River Trail.
Ball Arena/Elitch Gardens
Going through a largely empty parking lot situated next to a street that saw little traffic, I made it into the Ball Arena/Elitch Gardens station.
While there was a lot of bike parking near the Arena and some near Elitchs, what really stood out to me is the fact that the ticket machines were separate from the station in a way. Though there was proper signage in regards to the tickets, it seemed like it was tucked away and would be confused for someone being at the station.
The station itself provided a decent way for bike riders to access the Elitch Gardens side, with an elevator that was big enough for a bike.
After I finished at this station, I took route through Elitchs and headed towards Union.
While a lot of the core downtown stations were great when it came to pedestrian traffic, the lack of bicycle lockup facilities like bike racks and other types was something that erred me. Access to the stations was decent to great almost everywhere save a couple examples above, and it seemed like I could get around fairly easily with dismounting for a couple blocks being my worst fear besides car traffic.
For my next blog, I will be covering the remainder of the southwest line that ends at Mineral Station, stay tuned.
Featured image is the Empower Field Station from a different angle.