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.

Will the Front Range Meet the Moment? The State, the City, and the Future of Summers

As I ran around the State Capitol Last Monday night, I got into a meditative state. Jogging past the evening commute made me think how Denver and the Front Range had changed over the past two years. From fairly car free roads to clear skies and no traffic deaths at the beginning of the pandemic, to two of the worst summers for air quality and traffic as it wore on, it has been a rollercoaster. Right now, however, feels like a fork in the road for the region. At the State level, a bill to make RTD free for the month of August due to the high volume of Ozone Action Days caused by both fires and increased car usage is inching through the legislature at the tail end of the session. On the city level, hints of change are in the air, with the Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency providing instant rebates to residents that purchase E-bikes from participating locations, and Denver Streets Partnership putting forward a measure to fully build out Denver’s sidewalk network in nine years vs. the estimated 400 years at current funding rates. Coupled with this, city election season has come into full swing, with council candidates declaring nearly weekly at this point, and climate activist Ean Tafoya declaring for Mayor this past week on a bold platform to restore dignity to public transit and expand options for current users

For me, the closest moment that I can think of to this late November of 2019, when I wrote about the several different events, including the retirement of Dave Genova, the loss of B-Cycle, and the creation of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) as launching points for change in the Denver Metro Area’s relationship with alternative transit options. While none of us could predict the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic would have on Genova’s successor Debra Johnson and her tenure at RTD, the results of the Micro Mobility pilot and subsequent contracts awarded to Lyft and Lime, and the mixed record DOTI has had as a citywide department, it feels like the events at this juncture are a lot more optimistic than what things were like 2 1/2 years ago.

My View Outside Yesterday Evening

As I finish this piece, I am looking out the window into another remarkable yet hazy Colorado sunset after a short meeting. Though particle pollution appears to be going up, along with high ozone days seeming to stretch far into the future, I have significantly more optimism than I had in both Spring of 2020 and 2021 about the summer ahead, and believe that brighter days are ahead if we as individuals, a city, region, and state make the right decisions now.

*featured image is a photo of the Capitol taken by the author.

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 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 Light on with no one home: A reflection on an icy parking lot

Since the end of Christmas of 2021, I have taken to walking around my immediate neighborhood a lot more. My goal for 2022 is to walk to a destination if its near enough to me, and it has been fairly successful. However, as I shift from being a bicycle rider to a walker, I start again noticing a lot of the hazards of walking in a car-centric world.

Enter Wahoo’s Fish Tacos ‘Uptown. Closed in 2018, Wahoos belonged to a block that also a handful of other restaurants, all closing in a fairly similar timeframe to each other.

Photo of the Wahoo’s sign by Libby Flood of Business Den

Here is what that Wahoo’s sign and restaurant looks like in 2022.

While the sign is gone, the fa├žade remains. Rather than operating as a restaurant, the lot is mostly used as a way for drivers to make a U-Turn. The lot also has adjacency to Benedict Park, a park that is one of the primary greenspaces of the neighborhood. However, using the lot as a way to get to Benedict is a near impossibility by foot, as ice builds up on the sidewalk adjacent to the lot and can cause people to slip and fall easily.

A closer look at the Wahoo’s

The most bizarre aspect of this lot is the fact that the exterior lobby lights are constantly on. While the question of who pays for those lights is one that important I ultimately wanted to ask a bigger question: who is responsible for the sidewalk? With Wahoo’s long gone, the onus should be on the owner of the land, right? What if the owners are negligent? Who would get a fine when I report the slick sidewalk to 311?

For me and other pedestrians during the, this question can be a matter of whether we get to our destination safely or stumble on the way. As businesses continue to close and the responsibility of shoveling has becomes less clear, the city should step up in its vigilance and perhaps create a shoveling corps to keep all sidewalks, abandoned or not, clear. If there isn’t some level of shoveling the city does on its own along with enforcement, the snow removal program is as good as the light on in the Uptown Wahoo’s: on, but helping no one with its presence.

Featured image is of the Former Wahoo’s Fish Tacos in Uptown, taken in early January 2022

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.

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.

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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

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