AURORA | Riding bikes in the metro area is more than just a weekend activity, something to do in between barbecues and grocery shopping.
It’s work. Well, not work, but a way to get to work.
For most metro workers, daily life means leaving the bikes in the garage and getting behind the wheel for the daily commute.
But a large contingent of local governments, nonprofits and businesses are hoping this year will be the year where people learn that driving a car is a habit they can more easily than ever break. And to reinforce the benefits of pedaling to work, they’ve set aside a day to highlight making the change.
On Bike to Work Day, June 27, activists are hoping just one fun trip can make a difference.
“It’s just a more leisurely way to get to work,” said Tom Tobiassen, former RTD director and founder of Bicycle Aurora. “You don’t have to deal with traffic, it’s just more enjoyable. You get your workout for the day in the morning, and you’ll never know what (nature scene) you’ll run into on the trial.”
For those who regularly ride the city’s myriad and comprehensive paths and trails, they know the scene often includes highlights such as foxes, coyotes, rabbits, endless varieties of birds, butterflies and daring furry rodents.
Across the metro area, volunteers will be positioned across a network of bike paths and trails at rider stations as part of the festivities of Bike to Work Day. Aurora will have a large presence this year, with several breakfast stations for the morning commute including near the City Center on the Highline Canal Trail. Bike commuters can also expect parties for the afternoon ride home, including at Stanley Marketplace and Dry Dock Brewing.
“We’re trying to shift the needle right now and change the attitude toward bicycle culture and the transportation system in general. And emphasize there’s more options than just driving,” said Brenden Paradies, a planner with Aurora’s Planning and Development department. “In many cases if you’re going to work, you can get there as fast or just about as fast on a bike. And we’re really trying to show people this counts as your exercise.”
The morning station will run from 6:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. and offer riders a chance to catch their breath, grab a quick drink and a bite to eat (who says no to a breakfast burrito?). Along with support for the rider, some stations, including the one at Anschutz Medical Campus, will have skilled bicycle technician to help give bikes a look over and help with any quick fixes. The afternoon parties, which will feature food and some adult beverages, will be kicking off in the late afternoon.
“We hope this will create a ripple effect for getting people to ride their bikes,” Paradies said.
While Bike to Work Day started in Boulder in 1977, it has grown into a statewide event since then. And in 1995, the Denver Regional Council of Governments started working with cities in the area to link their events together. While biking to work is a healthy choice for the individual, getting more people to use bicycles and other forms of transportation besides a car will make for a better commute for everyone, including people who stick with their cars, proponents say.
“We hope the impact is that people see this is a true alternative mode of transportation to work. We know over the next 25 to 30 years that we’re expecting another million or so people to move into the DRCOG region. And we know our current transportation infrastructure is stressed now,” said Daniel Jerrett, chief economist at DRCOG. “We really want to encourage people to travel a different way.”
To find out where the nearest rider station is, plan your trip, find a group to ride with or answer any other question, visit biketoworkday.us.