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.