My ever-changing multimodal commute
I live in Boulder and commute to our office in lower downtown Denver each day. While many people groan about this commute, I truly don’t find it too bad, although the snowy days can definitely test one’s patience.
I’ve been making this multimodal commute every day for 4+ years now and it is amazing how many things have changed in that time. The modes I incorporate can include bicycling, walking, driving, bus riding and shuttle hopping.
Starting from home I can bike or drive the two miles to the Table Mesa Park-n-Ride station in Boulder. I love to ride, except that I’m wimpier than my colleagues when it comes to the cold, dark days of winter. I have learned to not beat myself up about that.
Bike to bus
Arriving at the station, I have always locked my bike to the racks with a u-lock. Now, however, cyclists have the option to park their bikes in a secure, new Bus-then-Bike shelter. While you still need to lock your bike inside, it provides an extra layer of security and a cover in case of rain or snow. These shelters are intended to help commuters with the “last mile,” that first or last part of their trip between the bus stop and their final destination (usually a short distance).
It’s also great that our buses provide capacity for folks to bring their bikes on the bus with them. I rarely need to do that as our Denver office is a walkable distance from the bus station, plus I’m a B-cycle member so I have access to bikes downtown. After parking my bike or car, I cross the new bridge to the other side of U.S. 36, where the buses now enter the highway via an efficient slip lane.
My bus ride takes about 30 minutes, and I see the same people on the bus over and over. I have nicknames for some—The Dude, The Librarian, The Fashionista, The Loud Talker. We regulars try to help the newbies with the logistics and smile knowingly at one another when someone does something to “break protocol.” We are a small community of people trying to make the ride as comfortable as we can for all.
With all the construction, riding on U.S. 36 the last few years has been an adventure. It is truly amazing how much is going on out there every day. Soon we’ll have BRT (bus rapid transit). BRT should make bus riders’ commutes faster in both directions, and there will be a toll option for those driving solo who wish to pay to play.
But what we’re all waiting for with excitement is the U.S. 36 Bikeway! This new trail will begin in Boulder and continue down to 80th Avenue in Westminster, adding 18 miles of bike path for those commuting in and out of Boulder, Denver, Broomfield, Louisville, etc. The first 11 miles from Westminster to Broomfield will open this summer. The remaining seven miles to Boulder are scheduled to open in early 2016.
Bicycle Colorado was involved with the initial planning and assessment phase many years ago, and we are thrilled to see the bikeway come to fruition. While not perfect (after all, it does end in Westminster and not Denver), it’s a huge step towards integrating bicycling into the mainstream of transportation options. I can’t wait to incorporate this ride into my commute!
To wrap up my daily commute, I arrive at Union Station—which is also obviously new and another world compared to the old Market Street Station! If you have not seen Union Station yet, you are missing out. It’s truly worth a visit. I then walk the six blocks to the office, or I can hop on the free MallRide shuttle if the weather is really nasty—my final two mode options to finish my commute.
This all might sound complicated, but I enjoy getting in a bit of a bike ride or a walk to wake me up on the way to work and clear my head after. And it’s absolutely worth it to let someone else deal with the traffic on 36. Tell us about your multimodal commute below. You might just help someone else break out of their comfort zone and join you.