Pedaling a mile up

I’m in Denver for a conference, which means lots of time in chilled conference rooms, viewing the world through powerpoint slides. Great stuff, up to a point. Butt and brain give out after a while, so off comes the neck tag (a little frisson of excitement at liberation from group identity) and out the door I go…

I quickly found the Denver Bikes, a bike-sharing program that has bikes for check-out in racks across the central part of the city. Check-out privileges come in daily ($8), weekly ($20), monthly ($30), and yearly ($59) increments. Once you’ve registered at a kiosk (takes about a minute), you can check a bike out from any stand, then return it to any stand. The system is designed for short trips, so check-outs over 30 mins incur extra costs ($1 for an extra half hour, then $4 after that). The bikes themselves are tanks, seemingly indestructible, but surprisingly easy to ride.

Many streets in the city center have bike lanes and they seemed, in my few miles of pedaling, pretty well respected by cars and trucks.

Even better, the city has several bike paths along waterways, so it is possible to go through the center of town and into outlying areas along bike-only paths that wind along running water. Hard to beat. (But stay out of the water — looks great, but bacterial counts are high.)

The best part: avoiding the Denver Boot, an enforcement device invented here in the 1940s by, of all people, a violinist. The boot shown below was put on a car right outside the window of the conference lunchroom. It was very kind of the local police to enliven our dining experience with a historical reenactment of traditional western vehicle wrangling:

[and this news added after I made the original post: bike-share is coming to Chattanooga…]

2 thoughts on “Pedaling a mile up

  1. Grace

    I bicycle to work when I can–only about 3.5 miles and a pleasant ride–but I wish Nashville were more bike-friendly. Things have definitely improved in the last few years, but we’ve still a long way to go to make it easier for people to bike rather than drive, and the bus system here is terrible unless you’re traveling on a single route.

    This system is brilliant.

    1. David George Haskell Post author

      Hi Grace,

      Agreed that Nashville isn’t the most bike-friendly city in the world, but the city (and region) has become an example for how to turn things around and redirect toward sustainability:

      I wonder about cultural context: biking in Denver is so “normal” — lots of people bike, hike, and enjoy the outdoors. I hope I’m not talking out of turn here, but it seems to me that in the South, using one’s body for the pure enjoyment of physical exercise and the outside is less of a mainstream activity. This translates up into policy choices. But then, past policy affects the ability of people to do these outdoor activities, so the causal arrow points both ways.

      About buses: as I took the bus out of Denver to the airport, locals were complaining about bus connections and how hard it was to get to work on the bus… So this refrain is heard all over…


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