Pedaling to Parks: Globeville Landing

Park Address: 3901 Arkins Ct. Denver, CO 80216

Neighborhoods/Area of interest Served: Platte River Trail, Globeville-Elyria-Swansea, River North Art District, Cole, Layton, Curtis Park

A pit stop along the Platte River Trail with a Disc Golf course and several amenities, Globeville Landing Park feels like a juncture between several competing interests and points of interests that make it interesting.

History

Globeville Landing started its life as a section of a Superfund site. The EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment worked jointly on a project to remove much of the contaminated soil in the area, completing a fair amount of the work from 2003-2006. The largest controversy in its existence was a major project the began in 2017, where a $300 Million dollar flooding project that led to the exposure of the remaining garbage and contaminated soil began. The projects main goal as well was to eliminate a flooding area for Central I70 expansion project, a project that would increase pollution in the neighborhoods and required the demolition of at least 56 homes.

A City Draft for the initial Globeville Landing revamp, 2017

The park expansion was completed in 2019, resulting in the creation of several active play areas and a picnic area.

Impressions Today

Globeville Landing in 2022 both felt like a great area for children and families to do things and an area of several interlocking tensions.

For me as someone who rides a bicycle, the biggest source of tension was where the park is situated along the South Platte River Trail. South of the trail is one of the most trafficked areas in Denver: Confluence Park and the entrance to the Cherry Creek Trail. North begins the entrance to what I have called The Blight Loop, one of the most notorious rides in Denver.

Tension continues in several ways as you take a look around the park. From the characteristic industry of Northside represented by the Pepsi Bottling Plant and the Western Stock Show complex, to the construction of buildings throughout River North that promise housing for some, and represent gentrification for others, to the RTD line going to the northernmost suburbs in Denver right next to a highway, it feels like you are at the center of several different Denvers.

The biggest thing that attracts me to the park is the sense of peace that it gives in the midst of a long ride. It acts as a rest stop for me, a middle place between the crowds of Confluence Park and the area by REI and the smells and horrors along of the blight loop.

Ways to get there by transit: The 12, 44, and A-Line Bus drop off near the park.

Ways to get there by bike: The Park is right off of the South Platte River Trail

Featured image is the entrance to Globeville Landing Park

Introducing Pedaling Through Parks

Imagine, for a minute, a typical recreational bike ride that you take in Denver. Do you remember trails such as Cherry Creek and Platte River, or do you think of the difficult stretches that make life miserable, such as heavily trafficked streets or bad infrastructure?

For me, I think of the best places for activities throughout Denver: parks. While some of the closest large parks to me like many folks in the Capitol Hill are Cheesman Park and City Park, there are several other smaller parks that have some of the same charm I love in both of these parks, and have traits that are great beyond this..

In the spirit of this love, this blog series will mostly be a love letter to these more neighborhood based parks vs the larger regional ones, with posts coming out roughly once a week in regards to the series. It will be a little less analytical than the Rolling to RTD series, but will include bike-ability as a measure that I will factor into this love.

Stay Tuned.

Featured Image is a Section of Alamo Placita Park

Rolling to RTD Part 10: The A-Line

After a four month Hiatus from the series due to winter and various other commitments, I have returned for the final chapter of Rolling to RTD, where we discuss riding along the A-Line.

Methodology

Starting from my apartment in Cap Hill, I rode along a route that was a mix of google maps and using multipurpose trails in Aurora. Full disclosure, I did not ride completely out to the airport and the final stop there, though I have in the past and will discuss it more and the implications of not doing so later on. I did not end up going to the Peoria Station because I had previously been to it when I covered the R-Line.

38th and Blake

Having passed by it several times, the 38th and Blake station is familiar to me. With a parking lot and bike parking on the side closer to the Platte River Trail, and construction currently defining the side closer to RiNo, the station is probably the most bike able station along the route with an unprotected bike lane along it.

Access to secure bike parking as well was another plus for the station as well. As I left the station, I realized that things would only become more and more treacherous on my route.

40th and Colorado

The route towards 40th reminded me of one thing I always feel when I ride in Northern Denver: I am pretty much alone. With no infrastructure along Smith Road, I mostly stuck to the sidewalk and parking lots of buildings to get to 40th and Colorado.

Immediate access to the station was not much better, with the only infrastructure nearby being sharrows.

The remainder of the station was a mix of a larger parking lot, a small bus terminal area, and bike parking that was not secure were elements of it. Between navigating car traffic and large, fast roads on the way and few options when arriving, this station would not be a great choice for bike commuting at all.

Central Park

Central Park made me feel slightly more optimistic. Packed with people heading to the Rockies Game right before I took this photo, Central Park had a little more bike parking, both protected and unprotected, and a larger terminal. The one thing of note to me after going to this station and comparing it directly to the previous two. While the parking lots seemed to get larger, the amount of bus connectivity also increased, making it feel a little more of a multimodal hub than the previous two stations.

40th and Airport

After a long detour through the Sand Creek area in Aurora, I arrived at 40th and Airport Station. A station notorious for being one people heading towards the airport gets off at accidentally, 40th and Airport was fairly accessible by bike.

With a slightly larger amount of unprotected bike parking, a trail that led directly there from the airport underpass, and some cool art nearby, the 40th and Airport station was surprisingly a lot more accessible than I thought it would be. That being said, it has a fairly large parking lot, and the route beyond the immediate path to the station requires a lot of sidewalk surfing to be remotely safe.

61st and Pena

The penultimate stop before the airport, 61st and Pena has an “unfinished” feel to it. The station itself has a lot of construction going on, with a major project looking like a vacant lot and a few projects that have sprung up since I moved here in 2016.

Though there are bike lanes around the stations, there is no bike parking, which discouraged me. Additionally, like the previous stations, a large parking lot, albeit covered this time. As I headed to the end of my adventure, I worried what would come towards me next

Authors Note: I did not make it out to the airport for this ride due to a mixture of exhaustion, going down an incorrect road, and fear of the high propensity of traffic because of vacations. The below section is based off of a trip I previously made to the airport from Pena. The below picture is roughly where I ended the ride.

Airport Station

Getting to this station via 56th is, as I have noted previously, the least accessible station on the map. There is no bike parking on the platform, and only unprotected bike parking that I was unable to near the parking garages. That being said, given the massive amount of people that go through the garage in any given period, I wouldn’t trust my bike there for an extended trip, and would recommend leaving the bike at an earlier station and riding in for safety purposes.

Final Thoughts

The biggest theme that I felt throughout my experience on the A-Line was the following: incompleteness. Beyond the fact that I did not complete the ride in its entirety, there were a few other elements that added to the feeling of incompleteness: the construction along some of the major stations, lack of bike parking, and the incomplete path to Pena all added to this. However, the potential of a built out A-line with more robust bike paths and trails could change RTD, and I will be interested in seeing how built out housing along the line will affect it.

Featured image is of a statue dedicated to Federico Pena, former Denver Mayor who was instrumental in the creation of Denver International Airport.

We need more events that normalize bicycle riding in Denver

Back in 2018, one of the greatest music festivals I had ever experienced came to Denver. Velorama was a celebration of bicycle riding in the State of Colorado, and made riding a bike feel normal. From having a bike corral for bicycle parking, to several events inside including a bike relay with the founder of Great Divide Brian Dunn, it was a celebration to both the competitive nature and the fun of riding a bike.

No photo description available.
Me With Brian Dunn, Circa August 2018

For me personally, the highlight of the event was seeing Matt and Kim, and giving someone in the crowd a beer who was celebrating their birthday. However, the normalization of riding a bike was something that I noticed this particular event had the ability to do.

While there are several standing events and group rides that normalize riding a bicycle, most notably Denver Cruisers, the act of riding a bike is something that is completely foreign to most Denverites. Most recently, we celebrated a bicycling holiday when Winter Bike to Work Day came around this past Friday, as a reduced number of booths had events around central Denver near the Bannock Shared Street primarily and near the newly minted 23rd Avenue protected bike lane. However, these events are few and far between. The next Bike to Work Day event, COVID willing, will likely be in June. Between February and June, the biggest reminder that we have people that ride bikes in Denver will unfortunately be in regards to cyclists that are victims of car crashes and the occasional bike lane opening.

This is something we as a city absolutely need to work on.

While I agree that infrastructure needs to be improved before bicycling can become something that is popular and accepted in the city, activating people that could ride bikes is something that is invaluable as well. The model that I often think of as a vegetarian is meatless Mondays, a phenomenon practiced both by school systems and individuals that forgo meat once a week. Why not encourage a day without cars every week? Given that emissions from cars was one of the biggest drivers of pollution on the Front Range in 2021, wouldn’t it be a boon to reduce car usage and encourage other modes of transportation? Perhaps hosting more events like Winter Bike to Work Day and its cousin in the summertime would drive ridership up. When more riders exist in a system, it makes it so that there are significantly more stakeholders who would care about infrastructure, and fight to improve it. In a city like Denver that is at a crossroads when it comes to bike infrastructure, having more people fighting the good fight is absolutely invaluable, helping to build a more bike-able city for the masses.

Featured Image is of Matt and Kim at Velorama in 2018

Rolling to RTD Part 2: The Southwest Suburb

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

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

The Approach

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

The Southwest Line

10th and Osage Station

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

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

Alameda Station

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

The Street facing away from Alameda Station

I25 and Broadway Station

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

Evans Station

Entrance to the Evans Station

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

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

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

Englewood Station

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

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

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

Oxford/City of Sheridan Station

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

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

Littleton Downtown Station

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

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

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

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

Littleton Mineral Station

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

Featured Photo is the Alameda Station.

Rolling Through the Snow Part 2: Riding.

Check out part one here.

As you can see by the cover photo of this article, you roll through a lot of interesting things in the snow. From ice, to patches of hardened snow, to the sandy mix that accumulates days after the storm, snow riding is a varied and unique thing. Here are some tips I have gathered over the years from riding in unique situations.

Slow Ride, Take it Easy

This is most important for riding in a storm/riding shortly after a storm. Ride at a slow but consistent pace, being wary of what materials lie beneath your bike at any given time. Remember that it may take a little longer for you to reach your destination, and budget time in regards to that.

Know your route/challenges you face during the winter

The biggest threat to a cyclist is the unknown during the winter. Whether its a snag of ice underneath thin snow (more on that later) a car that is unaware of your presence, wind, or wildlife, wintertime will bring things that summer does not. Keep that in mind as you ride around the city.

Wonder what is plowed or not? While they are currently transitioning to a new GPS tracking system, Denver’s Plow Tracker is helpful in locating where plows have already been. Can’t access the plow tracker? Here’s a good rule of thumb for the order of operations when plowing:

  1. Major Streets/Trails go first

This includes streets such as Santa Fe, Broadway, Colfax, and Federal and trails such as Cherry Creek Trail and South Platte River. While the major roads are not necessarily the most desirable for bicycle commuting, major thoroughfares and protected bike lanes are also plowed consistently. For instance, a plow designed specifically for the 13th Ave protected bike lane is deployed fairly early in the day after a big snow

2. Minor Streets and minor trails

Think Sanderson Gulch, 16th avenue, and the streets adjacent to major streets. My biggest suggestion for areas like this is to keep lights aimed at the snow and ride incredibly slow

3. Areas that never get paved

These are the areas that will, regardless of temperature fluctuation, have a trace amount of snow on them. Think alleyways that are north facing, incredibly low trafficked streets with buildings that cast shadows throughout the day, and unincorporated parts of surrounding counties. My general gut instinct and advice to newer riders is to avoid these stretches at all costs, as they may never get paved.

Snow after the large late-November snow from 2019

The Eternal Issue of Ice

When I talk to people that don’t ride regularly, the biggest problem that they usually cite besides temperature is ice being a large issue. I am not going to disguise it as all: falling on ice is scary as hell, and is still a thing I am always wary of after four years of riding in the metro area.

How to Approach Ice

  1. Don’t make any sudden movements.

Treat ice as if you just discovered that a bear was tracking you. The biggest mistake that many cyclists make is flinching when they feel terrain changing rapidly. Roll over ice slowly, and concentrate on getting past it.

2. If you fall.

This has happened to me a couple of times in my life. Here are some general best practice tips I would suggest when falling, loosely adapted from this article.

a. Don’t brace yourself for the impact

Falling on an elbow, hand, or arm will do a bad number on it. Keep hands on handlebars if possible and try and tighten them close to your elbows.

b. Pick a good landing spot

Picking a good landing spot is like picking a good war to serve in. My general gut advice is to try and fall away from traffic and into an area that is a lot more comfortable, especially thinly packed snow.

That’s part 2 for you! In part 3, we will talk about maintenance during the winter.

Stay Tuned!

Check out Part 3 here

The Blight Loop: Or, a ride into our mistakes.

Denverites and Coloradans are spoiled by the large amounts of bike infrastructure. While there is incredibly substantive criticism of bicycle facilities, some of which I have participated in in the past, we live in a state where natural beauty is often just an hour or two away on a well maintained path.

The Blight Loop satisfies neither of these conditions.

While not a recognized route by any major entity in Denver, the loop is well known among the cycling community. Basically, it is a loop that uses two trails and bike infrastructure in Aurora and Denver, starting roughly around Confluence Park and ending in the Central Park neighborhood.

The Blight Loop’s northernmost portion.

Various cyclists have differing opinions on where the loop begins. To me, the loop starts once you pass the Globeville Landing Park near I70. Though the trail is still technically in Denver, it feels different, as the scenery quickly shifts and the river looks less like a place for recreation and more like a superfund site. While there are a handful of parks prior to the turn, they overall aesthetic feels “off” for lack of a better term. For instance, Carpio Sanguinette, one of the northernmost parks in Denver, seems more like a parklet than a full fledged facility. The smells start to change once you get to this point, with a larger mix of pollution from the Suncor Oil refinery, a stench from the river, and, if the wind is blowing the right way, the smell of animal chow from the Purina plant.

A User Created Photo from Carpio Sanguinette from Atlas Obscura

By the time you reach the turnoff for the Sand Creek trail, you get the unnerving feeling you aren’t in Kansas anymore.

The Oz is the Suncor Oil refinery from a architecture standpoint. Comparisons stop there, as the industrial noises, smells, and sights reach a fever pitch. The creek itself is the kind of place where a three eyed fish doesn’t seem like it would be an uncommon thing

Keep peddling on.

Small parklets similar to the ones in north Denver start to emerge, feeling more like appendages than actual parks. The trees and general flora fade in and out, as scenes from a city built in industrial warehouses, Commerce City, come into frame. A trailer chapel is a prominent feature that reminds me that god is there for truckers. For me, who knows.

A Mobile Chapel at a truck stop in Commerce City

The final circle of hell is the end of the Sand Creek trail. Due to I70 construction, parts of the trail are dirt and rocks. When I was a regular on nightshift, I would ride the trail at 2:00 AM, and would say a hail Mary before this stretch. A rough patch hit at the wrong angle could make my life a nightmare. While I am not sure if this section of the Sand Creek trail has been fixed since I last rode on it, it served as a reminder that the hardest stretch of the loop was over. Once the Sand Creek Trail was over, the trail shifted back to a multi-use trail, with the old Stapleton Airport tower within a mile of the park the trail drops you off in.

The Old Stapleton Airport

So, what is the Blight Loop? On paper, its a fairly easy route. Elevation gains are minimal, distance is not a big factor, and, outside of the gravel near the end, its need technically difficult. What it is, however, is a morality tale. A ghost of Christmas Past as you pass by the unhoused who have been ignored by the city for generations, of Christmas Present once the Suncor Oil Refinery is reached, and Christmas Future when the I70 construction is hit. Far from being a physically draining route, its a mentally draining one, and a reminder of how far we have to go.

Featured Photo is of the Author in Front of the Suncor Oil Refinery, Dated June of 2020