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Transit improvements to trigger changes

A system emerging

Last Friday, two Bicycle Colorado team members and I attended the Transit Alliance’s Annual Transit Event here in Denver. Approximately 250 people from throughout the region took part to network, hear the latest on FasTracks and honor several award recipients. You may ask, why are staff of a bicycle-focused organization interested in transit, anyway? I’ll get to that.

“Exciting change is here” was a theme touched on in speakers’ remarks and the projects that were showcased. Rightly so. In case you are not familiar with FasTracks, by 2018 the Denver region’s transit system will include 122 miles of new commuter rail and light rail lines, 18 miles of bus rapid transit and 45 new stations.

The way many people get around will change

In just four years, thousands more of our neighbors throughout the region will use light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit on a regular basis to get to and from work, school, the airport and a multitude of other destinations. As RTD general manager Phil Washington said, it will be a “game changer.”

It’s a good thing, too. People are moving to the Denver metro area in large numbers, and the state demographer’s projections suggest that will continue into the foreseeable future. If we all continued to get around the way that we do right now, congestion would be a major issue.

So what do all these transit improvements have to do with bikes?

How will a growing mass of transit patrons conveniently get to and from all the new stations? All by car? Can you imagine? What a mess!

Here is a simple truth—and you are we welcome to debate me on this—in order for these transit investments to be a success, a variety of different options will be needed to get people to and from stations. That’s why I thought it was very appropriate that there was a bike lane laid out across the floor of Friday’s venue. Kudos to the Transit Alliance for including this bike lane to help convey the important message that how we get to and from these stations will be a key determinant in how they will function.

Looking ahead, our ability to get around by bike, foot, car and transit in a safe, convenient and predictable fashion will be key to the high quality of life that we are lucky to enjoy.

So, right you are Mr. Washington. The game is changing and it is great to see bicycle infrastructure in the mix. As the system continues to build out, we look forward to tracking and supporting projects that will encourage folks to jump on two wheels and enjoy a ride down to the new stations.

Ted Heyd

About the Author: Ted Heyd

Ted manages our regional policy efforts focused on building out a more multi-modal transportation network. Ted thoroughly enjoys and spends much of his time collaborating with multiple advocacy partners along the Front Range. In his free time, he loves to mountain bike, hike and camp with family and friends.


Jim Guenther - Reply

We are car free for about four years now and cycle, bus, light rail, and car share. We select our housing locations for access to these multi-modal systems.
A pet peeve that I have is the light rail cars have steep steps making it difficult to haul a more robust touring and commuting bike into the car. Roll on cars are obviously the answer, but thats another story. So, why not let bikes enter the cars via the accessable ramps? I contacted RTD about this and they said no way. I see parents with baby strollers entering on the ramps. Sometimes we like to urban tour /overnight to Chattfield, or Cheery Creek State Parks with camping gear and use the light rail to exit the urban area quickly. We have a difficult time on the steps of the cars with all the travel gear on the bikes.
Any thoughts on getting RTD to allow cyclist to enter the cars on the accessible ramps.
Cheers, Jim

    Ted Heyd - Reply

    Hi Jim,

    I’ve not spoken with any RTD folks about restrictions on ramp use but I’d guess the exclusions exist to protect access for disabled patrons with assistance devices (i.e. wheelchairs) and, as it turns out, parents with strollers. Without knowing, I’d estimate it’s unlikely they would change this policy to better accommodate cyclists carrying gear. That said, I’m curious who you spoke with at RTD and whether they provided you any specifics. Thanks.



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