Smart Energy Living - June 2011

Bike to Work Day is June 22--Let's Ride:
Save energy while burning calories

By: Phil von Hake

Denver has been named a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists since 2001.

Many Denver employers are very flexible with office dress codes.

Gasoline still costs well over $3.50/gallon throughout the Denver area.

And if you ride your bike to work on Wednesday, June 22, you can get a free breakfast.

 Long story short, this is a great time and place to hop on a bike!

The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) will once again present Denver Bike to Work Day on Wednesday, June 22, 2011. Join the more than 35,000 people expected to leave the car at home and combine their commute with their workout!

Breakfast Stations will be set up all over the metro area, providing food & drinks, first aid (just in case), and other goodies from 6:30 to 9:00 AM. Some larger stations will even pull double-duty as Bike Home Stations between 4:30 and 6:00 PM. And, in typical DROCG fashion, there appears to be plenty of coordination between them, RTD, Denver’s “Bcycle” bike sharing program, and major employers throughout the area.

And if you live outside metro Denver, there may be Bike To Work events in your community. Contact Bicycle Colorado to learn about events around the state.

Riding your bike is usually its own reward, but the more competitive among us can register at and enter a drawing to win prizes like a Trek road bike, Rockies or concert tickets, health club memberships (so you can get into even better shape), gift certificates, and more. A separate Business Challenge rewards employers having the highest bike-to-work participation with catered lunches from Panera Bread. 

Do you not feel as comfortable about riding your bike alone? Sign up on the Bike to Work Day’s not-quite-aptly-named “icarpool” application to find neighbors to ride with you and track your own bike commuting stats. 

The Bike to Work Day site also has a list of Group Rides throughout the area, and you can even set up your own group ride. If there aren’t any takers for that, you can feel confident about finding safe, practical routes to & from work with maps on the Bike to Work Day site, Bike Denver, and (my favorite) the Denver Bicycle Touring Club, whose map covers the metro area from Boulder to Parker, and Brighton to Chatfield.

Do you live or work “too far away” from the Cherry Creek, Platte River, or other major bike routes? A big reason why Denver has become such a bike-friendly city is the appearance of sharrows on more & more streets around town. As you probably already know, sharrows not only show cyclists where it’s safe to ride, but also (and more importantly) remind drivers to stay aware of increased bike traffic on that street. I was particularly struck by this “upgraded sharrow” while riding down Logan Street in South Denver the other day, showing how much bike commuting really has moved into the mainstream!

Is your bike not ready for a commute to work? Then get it tuned up – or get a new one – at one of dozens (hundreds?) of shops all over town. My personal favorites include Salvagetti (Central Platte Valley), Turin (Golden Triangle), Green Mountain Sports (Green Mountain), Treads (Lakewood or Aurora), Wheat Ridge Cyclery, at least four great shops in Downtown Golden, and dozens more throughout the metro area. Big chains like Bicycle Village, Bike Source, Performance, etc. can also get you what you need, but bike shops are one of those things that are “best kept local.”

Bike to Work Day is also an ideal time to check out Denver’s “Bcycle” bike sharing program. You’ve seen those cute red bikes all over town for over a year now, and you know you want to join those smiling people riding them. AND in case you haven’t already heard: Fast Company just named Bcycle as one of its Top 5 Innovative Companies in Transportation! Spend just $6 on a 24-hour membership to Denver Bcycle, and then ride for free the rest of the day as long as you check bikes in & out for less than 30 minutes at a time (remember: Bcycle is a bike sharing program, not a bike rental program).

Do you think you can bike to work, but aren’t so sure about riding back home? Remember that bikes are welcome on all RTD buses and Light Rail trains, thus providing you with even more commuting flexibility.
 Are there some big nasty hills between home & work? Check out the growing selection of electric-assist bikes that’ll let you spin right up & over them!

Do you want to keep riding further than just “back home?” The Denver Cruiser Ride is a costume party on two wheels that happens every Wednesday night throughout the summer. The theme for their June 22 ride is “Bubble Wrap, Duct Tape & Cardboard,” but they have no problem if you join them sans costume.

As for my own Bike to Work Day plans, I have a mid-morning appointment in Capitol Hill, and I plan to ride there from my home in Morrison like I did a few weeks ago. I’ll then find a Wi-Fi hotspot in Central Denver to (look for) work through the rest of the business day.

I’ll then ride to Lone Tree that night for a networking event co-hosted by the Colorado Renewable Energy Society (for whom I used to serve as Communications Director) and the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. This event will also feature a premiere screening of Carbon Nation, a new documentary about climate change solutions. I hope to see many of you there, and also hope I won’t be the only person riding a bike to this event (driving solo to a movie on climate change solutions just ain’t right!). Space for this event is limited, so find out more and RSVP on the Meetup page.

And yes: that does mean I’ll have to ride home about 20 miles starting around 9:00 PM … but I’ll have my super-powerful Serfas TSL-250 bike light and night-vision goggles (i.e., clear glasses) to guide me home at a time when the weather should be ideal for riding. That should end up having me in the saddle for over 50 miles on Bike to Work Day, but I’m also a scrub mountain bike racer, so I need all the chamois time I can get!

If you couldn’t already tell, I’m kind of into this. I remain convinced that bikes are the answer to problems ranging from our obesity epidemic, to traffic congestion, to workplace stress, to Denver’s brown cloud, to natural resource conflicts, to Peak Oil, to global warming, and more.

There are also tons more bike-riding resources beyond the scope of this article online, at your local shop, at a nearby cruiser ride, or even by just getting back to me. Don’t let a lack of information be your excuse for getting in the car again on June 22, joining yet another rush-hour cattle drive, and risking tendonitis in your middle finger. Put some joy back into your commute and ride your bike!

Phil von Hake is a Communications Consultant for Clean-Technology and Green-Future Issues. He has served as Communications Director for the Colorado Renewable Energy Society, and has helped promote numerous clean-energy events throughout Colorado. Phil strives to create “a message to help clear the air”: telling the story of those who work for a more sustainable future, and educating others to make more sustainable choices of their own.

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