A Denver man went to Red Rocks without using a car, Here is how he did it.

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.

The Approach

“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.

The Trip

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 Back and 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

Rolling to RTD Part 9: The W Line

Introduction

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.

Methodology

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.

Decatur/Federal

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.

Knox Station

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

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.

Sheridan Station

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

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 Station

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

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.

Oak Station

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.

Final Thoughts

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

The Last 4224 Feet: A walk down the Future L Line Extension

While much of the focus on the conversation of light rail expansion is being given to the B Line, the long delayed Boulder extension is not the only part of FasTraks, an initiative voters passed to expand light rail systemwide in 2004. The L line, a line that currently connects LoDo to both Five Points and the RiNo Arts District, has also been unrealized. A great recent piece for Denverite by Kyle Harris details the history behind the long stalled line.

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Proposed L line Extension

The 4224 feet, or .8 miles, that the rail would run down was something that I wanted to profile for this piece, showcasing what is, and what could be. Unlike my reviews of light rail line and bike friendliness, I mostly focused on the neighborhoods and what a built at L line could look like. Additionally, rather than bike, I opted to walk during this journey.

The Current End (30th and Downing)

The Northeast Corner of 30th and Downing

30th and Downing as an intersection has always seemed like a hodge podge of buildings that scream Denver in different ways. Within the block radius of the station itself, The Black Western Museum, a Gem Market, and a Beer Spa exist the serve the community in their unique ways. Adjacent to the east and west of these businesses are largely residential neighborhoods.

The station itself evokes the same energy of the end of the B-Line. For me, a strong feeling of “now what?” Is something I feel as I walk along it. Heading north towards the next proposed station, I thought about the large width of the current road, seeing the possibility of the train paralleling it in a similar that it does to Welton.

33rd and Downing

33rd street intersects at a perpendicular angle to Downing. As I crossed at 33rd Ave on the right side of the street, the suburbs turned into another small shopping center.

An Aerial view of the shopping center

To me, the large parking lot seemed like the logical place to put a station. With a dollar store, a butcher shop, and a Chinese place, the small center seems ripe for transit to flourish there. Going northbound, the street began to narrow a tad, with the street becoming suburban for a short period of time.

Besides the shopping center, the development on the other site of the street intrigued me. Between that and the center, it seemed like 33rd and Downing could be a substantive area with transit oriented development if the expansion was completed

35th and Downing

Moving further down the street, I began to leave the residential neighborhood behind. To my right, a gas station stood across from a tire shop. Noting the irony of either becoming a light rail station, I continued down the block.

As I headed further down the street, the landscape became more barren, feeling like the predecessor to a major revitalization. To me, the defining aspect of 36th and Downing was a large, dirt field with dead plants.

While the station is supposed to be positioned at 35th Avenue, this felt like a natural place to put the station. Perhaps this may be reevaluated as work begins on the expansion.

38th and Blake

While the station itself is well known, the two paths leading to it give off distinctive feelings. Going straight on Downing takes you past a mixed use development and construction. To me, it made logical sense that, if the tracks were to go down this route, they would parallel the road until its end. Instead of taking this route, I decided to go right at the Walnut Street intersection.

Ending its suburban stretch with two dilapidated motor homes, Downing’s residential turned into Walnut’s commercial strip. A liquor store and a brewery/pizza place along with a large apartment complex were things that stood out to me the most on Walnut, along with one of my least favorite intersections in Denver at 38th.

The one way that I could see the L line ending here would be if it was elevated above traffic, using the current unused field by the 38th and Blake Station as a way to come into the station from the north. Most likely, however, I can see the route going straight from the end of Downing to 38th and Blake from the south.

Final Thoughts

For me, the overwhelming theme while going down Downing was how, beyond the absence of the L line, how many underutilized parts there were. From the mostly parking lots of the shopping centers, to the field just north of 36th Ave, it seemed to me to be a place that can be a boon both for the businesses that exists along it, and any future businesses that decide to take up shop there. Perhaps this is why recently RiNo Art District started to circulate a petition advocating for its completion. Whatever the case, the L line remains an unfinished project of RTD, hopefully one that comes off the shelf soon.

Featured Image is a mural at 37th and Downing by Gamma. You can find Gamma’s art online here.

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

Rolling to RTD Part 7: The G-Line

Introduction

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.

Methodology

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.

Construction near the Wheat Ridge/Ward Station

Final Thoughts

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.

Rolling to RTD Part 6: The N-Line

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

N Line Map
The N-Line

Method

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.

Final Thoughts

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 Adjacent to the N-Line

Rolling to RTD Part 5: Denver Tech Center to Ridgegate Parkway

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.

Orchard Station

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.

Picture from an overpass of the Orchard Station

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.

Lincoln Station

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.

Skyridge Station

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.

Ridgegate Parkway

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.

Concluding Thoughts

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

Featured image is art along the E-line

Searching for Humanity in Concrete: Loathing and Frustration at the Denver Tech Center

As some of you may know, I briefly took a job working for a startup that relocated to the Denver Tech Center in October of 2019, specifically the Greenwood Village section of it. I prepped myself for the move, realizing that it would make my normally 15-20 minute commute nearly an hour and 15 minutes from my apartment to the office. While there was a light rail station that provided nearly direct access to the area where my office was, the issues that RTD was facing in regards to inability to recruit and retain drivers began to show, as trains that I wanted to take either ran too late or ran too early.

First Impressions

When I began my first Lyft ride into the Tech Center to finish up the move of the startup’s office, I was struck with how it felt like every office park in Southern California, where I grew up. While Denver has giant skyscrapers in its Lower Downtown Area, the Tech Center feels is that, but with concrete car storage as far as the eye can see. From parking garages, to parking lots, to park-n-rides all throughout the RTD area, cars seem to be king in this area. Though RTD has a presence, including light rail 3-4 stations along the main stretch of the center and a couple of bus routes, that’s where transit ends. Going into the move, I was pessimistic, but ready to bear and grin due to the consistency of work.

denver tech center
An Aerial View of the Denver Tech Center, Photo From this BuiltInColorado Article

The Month in The DTC

Perhaps it didn’t help that RTD was constantly burdened by the driver shortage in regards to having consistent lines. Perhaps it didn’t help that it felt like snow removal in the DTC was geared towards making sure parking lots and streets were clear vs. sidewalks. Perhaps it didn’t help that, upon moving down there, my employer asked for the make and model of my car, assuming that I would be driving down to the Tech Center from Denver. The culmination of everything, however, was the fact that it felt inescapable. Company WiFi constantly had issues that none of us could resolve, yet the only refrain for most of us, who lived closer to downtown Denver, was to go to a nearby chain tavern when things went wrong. Bad periods of inclement weather in Late October meant that we had to work from home, with me hoping that a coworker would give me a ride.

There was zero way to effectively bike to the Tech Center from my apartment without waking up at 5:30 in the morning, and bike infrastructure was virtually non-existent without cobbling together a handful of trails and hoping that drivers would be generous. Even walking in the Tech Center felt like a struggle at times, with constant anxiety in regards to whether I would get hit when jaywalking to make my train on time. I could bear and grin for awhile because it was consistent 9-5 work, but something had to give. I tried to find the positives: at least I didn’t have to worry about the close quarter of a WeWork? After grasping at straws, I started to see the cracks in a bad way.

The Tipping Point: A No Good, Really Bad Halloween

While my Halloween costume from 2019, an RTD bus driver with a replica 15L, was a high point in my Halloween costume choices, the night after work heading home from the office broke me.

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A photo of me as an RTD Bus Driver, Halloween 2019

I remember the night well. I was taking the E line from the Orchard Station, the closest to where the office was, to the Alameda Station in Denver. After slowing down in approach to several stops, the entire train stopped between the Pearl and Broadway Stations. After about 2-3 minutes, passengers started to show concern due to the fact the delay seemed less of a pause and more of a full stop. 5 minutes later, the operator came on the radio, relaying to the passengers that the train was experiencing technical difficulties. Fifteen minutes after that initial warning, I was done. I held it together through the month of October solely based on the fact that I rolled with the punches that RTD was dealing me with my commute having to gradually get longer to catch the right train. After almost 30 minutes of being stopped, I felt like RTD had dealt a kick to the crotch that I couldn’t recover from. After the festivities of Halloween night ended, I cried, frustrated that I had fallen so far, and planned my escape from the Tech Center.

Aftermath and Reflection

I applied with my old company for a job closer to downtown and got it, albeit with slightly nontraditional hours, and started the healing process. It was late November of 2019, and I went into my job realizing that it would be a way for me to heal from a mental and an emotional perspective. While the healing was never linear, the process began then, with some lulls due to the global pandemic and shifts in my home life.

Looking back, I made the right decision. The Tech Center and the types of companies that it attracts are not for me. As someone that worked for a startup, I wanted the geographical positives of startup culture: being reasonably walkable/ridable/bike-able from my apartment, able to connect with people in my own age group near me, and close to places and spaces that felt human. Instead, I worked in the outskirts of suburbia, feeling like I was working for an anonymous company surrounded by anonymous companies. It felt more like working at Initech, where I was an anonymous face in a sea of anonymous faces, than a vibrant startup. The area surrounding also felt like a bedroom community, where, to quote a friend “Business Owners located offices there to take their clients to the nicer Illegal Pete’s”. When I couldn’t find humanity in the concrete, I escaped, and feel all the better for it.

Cover Photo is an Aerial Shot of a Hyatt located in the Tech Center

To be successful, future Denver COVID-19 testing sites must also be accessible to all Denverites

When it was announced earlier this month that the massive Pepsi Center COVID testing site that has been used by Coloradans throughout the Metro Denver region would be shut down on September 30th, the director of Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) Robert McDonald stated that “With that (building out community testing) accomplished, the city can focus its testing resources where they are most effective, at a community level in highly impacted and underserved neighborhoods”

While there are several metrics that DDPHE is considering to build out these more community based testing sites, accessibility by other modes of transportation beyond just motor vehicles. To build on the success that the Pepsi Center testing site has garnished over the past five months, future testing site locations should be modeled on its successes and informed by its shortcomings.

The Pepsi Center site had a couple of built in advantages to accessibility. It has a light rail station that stops only a few yards from the parking lot used to administer tests. This provides the advantage of allowing those that are unable to have access to a car or bike the ability to get tested at the facility. From a bicyclists perspective, the Pepsi Center is between two of the larger trails in Denver, the South Platte River Trail and the Cherry Creek Trail, and can be reached fairly easily from either of them.

The Lightrail station located across from the Pepsi Center

The biggest shortcoming of the Pepsi Center site from an alternative transportation was its messaging. While cyclists and walk-ups were allowed, DDPHE qualifies this in their testing statement, stating that “However, due to the fact that the testing facility is intended for those experiencing symptoms, we hope to limit walk-ins at the site as they may risk exposing other”. This is in contrast to other cities throughout the United States, such as New Orleans, which is testing cyclists for COVID in their drive thru testing literature.

Greenlee Elementary School, a potential testing site, located near transit, bike infrastructure, and a fairly walkable neighborhood.

While DDPHE is correct in making COVID testing sites equitable by placing them in neighborhoods that have been historically underserved on several metrics, making these sites accessible to all, including pedestrians and cyclists, is also an important factor in fighting the spread of COVID-19. 

The Fast Pumping Artery to Golden: Save the 16L

When RTD proposed its series of cuts at a study session on December 19th, they slated 6 bus lines and special sports services such as BroncosRide, RockiesRide, and CU Denver Game rides to be completely eliminated. Outside of being slightly surprised about the game day lines being cut, I was dismayed to hear that the 16L bus was being eliminated as well. As a line that is one of the most direct ways for individuals to get from Downtown Golden to Denver County and vice versa, the 16L is a line that is worth saving due to the service that it provides.

Background

Before I go further into why I believe the 16L should be saved, I will admit my bias here: The 16L was my former bus. As someone that works just south of downtown, the 16L was a bus that I would take constantly from where I was renting to where I currently work. Beyond just being my former bus, however, the 16L is a valuable resource for residents of Jefferson County.

Running roughly from just west of Downtown Golden to the corner of Colfax and Broadway along Colfax over the course of a little over 45-50 minutes, the 16L is the closest that anyone can take to get to Golden proper given that the W-Line stops at the Jefferson County Government Center Station, roughly an 8 minute drive or 45 minute walk from Downtown Golden or its suburbs. Along the way, it passes by staples of West Colfax, including the Chuck Wagon Diner, Casa Bonita, and the Colfax Museum. It also passes by big box stores such as Wal-Mart and Colorado Mills before it takes a turn off Colfax into Golden.

Casa Bonita
An Exterior Shot of Casa Bonita

Why Is It Potentially Being Cut?

During the staff presentation of the service reductions, the justification for the routes to be eliminated were either that they were under-performing or that the route was a duplication of another service. Due to the fact that the 16L is a limited version of the regular 16, it was deemed to be a duplication of service and cut given that, out of all of the lines being eliminated, the 16L has the highest amount of ridership.

What is wrong with the 16?

To illustrate what a loss the 16L would be in comparison to its longer counterpart the 16, here are some maps of routes that each bus takes between two sample destinations: the Colfax at Auraria Station and Woody’s Wood Fired Pizza in Downtown Golden

The first route shown is the route that the 16 takes

Colfax 16
The 16 Route

While Google says that it takes about an hour and 10 minutes, my personal experience shows that it takes about an hour and 15 minutes on a good run.

Contrast this with the 16L

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16L route

again, as a disclaimer, while google says it takes about 42 minutes, I would realistically say it takes about 45 minutes to 50 minutes from experience.

As you can see, the stop that the 16 takes at the Decatur-Federal station causes roughly a 20-30 minute difference from its counterpart, the 16L, which for many RTD services is the equivalent to a run. Even though, in the planning document, more runs of the 16 would be added, that would still not stop the fact that the prolonged stop at the Decatur-Federal station would make the trip from Denver to Golden more than an hour every time.

Conclusion

If the 16L had been cut by the time that I was working in Downtown Denver, I would have been unable to work in Downtown without having a commute longer than an hour from the Lakewood/Golden cusp to Civic Center Park. While RTD believes that bolstering the amount of 16 buses would alleviate the issue, all it would do is create a steady amount of longer trips from the Golden/Lakewood area to Denver, frustrating riders even more and driving down ridership in favor of an alternative like car commuting. For this reason, the 16L should be spared from the chopping block that is the service cuts RTD is considering, as it is the artery that makes the heart of RTD beat.

Featured image is credited to Paul Albani-Burgio from Colorado Community Media, and portrays a 16L bus bound for Civic Center at the 10th and Washington stop in Golden.