Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Bicycles category.

Photographic proof bikes and streetcars work together

Despite the fact that streetcar tracks can be hazards to cyclists, bikes and streetcars are great allies.

They both help produce more livable, walkable, less car-dependent streets. It’s no coincidence that the same cities are often leaders in both categories. In the US, Portland has both the highest bike mode share and the largest modern streetcar network. In Europe, Amsterdam is even more impressive as both a streetcar city and a bike city.

With that in mind, here’s a collection of photos from Amsterdam showing bikes and streetcars living together.

  
  
All photos from BeyondDC.com

Of course, it doesn’t just happen. It’s easy for bikes and streetcars in Amsterdam to avoid one another, and to interact safely, because each one has clearly delineated, high-quality infrastructure.

Chalk that up as one more reason to build both good bike lanes and great transit.


15th Street bike lane officially becomes a cycletrack

On May 21, Denver Public Works crews added plastic bollards to the buffer of the 15th Street bike lane, officially making it Denver’s first protected bike lane.

Protected bike lanes, or cycletracks, are becoming common in central cities around the US. Compared to normal bike lanes, cycletracks are safer, induce more people to bike, and increase business.


Photo from @DowntownDenver on Twitter.


FasTracks Progress: Union Station Transit Complex Opens!

It’s been a long, long time coming, but the $500 million Denver Union Station Transit Center is COMPLETE and will open for transit operations tomorrow! This is undoubtedly a game changer for downtown Denver and represents the realization of nearly three decades of planning efforts, if not more. Ryan D. covered the grand opening ceremonies in two posts (parts one and two) yesterday on DenverInfill.

The Denver Union Station Transit Center (any ideas for a nickname?) consists of three major transit components: light rail (open in 2011), bus (open now), and commuter rail (coming in 2016). Let’s take a look at each of those components and how they fit into one of the most expensive infrastructure investments since Denver International Airport.

RTD has produced (and agreed to share) this great image that gives a general overview as to how the three components fit together and where the different modes provide service to.

UnionStation-Map - Copy

The locations and facilities labeled in orange on the image above are now complete and will be open for the general public on Sunday, May 11, 2014. The Chestnut, Wewatta, and Union Station Pavilions provide the three main entrances to the underground bus station, complete with stairs, escalators, and elevators. The Platform 2 and Platform 4 Pavilions provide access from the Commuter Rail platform with stair and elevator access to the underground bus concourse (no escalators).

The light rail facility was relocated in 2011 and served as the first major component completed at Union Station as part of this massive project. This new station replaced the previous light rail platform which was located just south of Wewatta Street (right about where the Wewatta Pavilion is today). The 16th Street MallRide was also extended 2-3 blocks to serve the new light rail station at the same time.

2014_05_09_DUSLRT01 

The underground bus station (which again….nickname?) is a sight to behold. A behemoth at 140 feet wide and 980 feet long, this 22-bay bus station has more than twice the capacity of Market Street’s 10 bays. The pedestrian concourse isn’t anything to sneeze at, coming in at 44 feet wide and 780 feet long. Every bus that services Market Street Station today will service Union Station, in addition to the free MetroRide. Buses from Greyhound as well as other private bus companies are a possibility in the future (no definitive plans as of yet). CDOT announced this week that its new inter-regional bus system—which will connect Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, and Glenwood Springs (and points in between) with downtown Denver—will serve the underground bus station. This new service starts sometime next year!

DenverUrbanism and DenverInfill have tackled the bus station through several previous posts, so I won’t bombard you with pictures here, but let’s take a look at some before-and-after pictures of the bus facility. Better yet, head on down and take a look for yourself. Honestly, I was wary when I heard about the yellow tile (can anyone say outdated and tacky?) but I think it turned out great. Combined with the seven skylights, it really helps brighten the facility up and makes it seem even larger (if that was possible).

2014_05_09_DUSBefore03 2014_05_09_DUSAfter01

2014_05_09_DUSBefore01 2014-05-09_DUSAfter02

The final and the most visible and stunning piece of transit infrastructure at Union Station has to be the commuter rail platform. Denver is known for lots of things (300 sunny days each year, active lifestyles, marijuana, etc.) but stunning and modern architecture tends to not make most people’s lists. This canopy will serve as an iconic welcome to those who arrive in downtown Denver by transit, whether it be the coming commuter rail lines, bus, or light rail.

2013_11_18_DUSCanopy04 2013_11_18_DUSCanopy09   

2013_11_18_DUSCanopy18 2013_11_18_DUSCanopy10

Union Station is big. It’s expensive. It’s important. It serves as the hub of the $6+ billion, decade-long infrastructure investment that is FasTracks. It will serve as the heart of transit throughout metro Denver. It will change how tens of thousands of people access downtown Denver on a daily basis. Get down there and take a look. Wander around. We all paid for it, and after decades of planning and years of construction, we can finally cash in on this investment.


Portland & Seattle streetcars: Rail for close-in neighborhoods

As Denver considers the possibility of streetcars on Colfax, it may be informative to learn about what other cities have accomplished.

Portland opened its first modern streetcar line in 2001, and Seattle followed in 2007. Both cities use streetcars in a decidedly different way than Denver uses light rail. Rather than shuttling commuters into downtown from far-flung suburbs, streetcar lines circulate residents of central city neighborhoods to shops, restaurants, and entertainment, plus of course jobs and homes.


Portland streetcar. All photos by BeyondDC.com

Streetcars are the central city answer to light rail. In Denver, where FasTracks lines shoot out from Union Station in every direction except into the dense urban core, that’s a sorely needed piece of the transportation puzzle.

Since Portland and Seattle streetcars are more for shorter central city trips, their interior layout is more open than suburban commuter rail. Like Denver’s 16th Street Mall shuttle, streetcars are intended to be for hop-on & hop-off type trips. Train interiors are less tightly packed than buses or light rail.


Portland streetcar interior.

Seattle’s initial streetcar line, to South Lake Union, is pretty short. But its second line will open this year, and will bring service to Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Just like in Denver, Capitol Hill is Seattle’s densest inner city district.


Seattle South Lake Union streetcar line.

Since streetcars work together with bicycles to serve close-in transportation needs, Seattle’s Capitol Hill route has been designed to accommodate both. The streetcar line runs next to a fully protected cycletrack that was built simultaneously, as part of a joint project.


Seattle’s Broadway, with streetcar tracks on the left and a cycletrack on the right.

Elsewhere along that line, Seattle has installed special crossings to help cyclists navigate across streetcar tracks safely.


A “bike sneak,” directing cyclists to cross tracks at the safest angle.


At future streetcar stops the bike lane swerves behind the stop, to avoid trains.

All in all, Portland and Seattle offer great models for Colfax, Broadway, Highlands, and other central Denver neighborhoods that need better transit.


Status of US bikesharing systems as of 2013

American bikesharing boomed in 2013 like never before. Led by huge new systems in New York and Chicago, the total number of bikesharing stations in the US more than doubled, from 835 at the end of 2012 to 1,925 in 2013.

After three straight years at the top of the chart, Washington’s Capital Bikeshare slipped behind New York’s newly-launched Citibike. Chicago also launched its system, Divvy, and ranks a close third. Those three cities each have at least 300 stations and make up a clear first tier nationwide. After them, no other systems crack 200 stations.

Denver’s B-Cycle grew from 53 to 81 stations, but still dropped from 5th largest in 2012 to 7th largest in 2013, because of New York and Chicago’s launches. But Denver’s growth was enough to remain ahead of San Francisco, the next largest new system in 2013, with 67 stations.

Overall, 13 new bikesharing systems opened in the US in 2013, bringing the total to 40. In addition to New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, other noteworthy additions this year included Fort Worth, Columbus, and Aspen.

At this point, it’s fair to say we’re no longer in the pioneering period. Any city that still doesn’t have bikesharing is beginning to fall behind.

It’s not just the big coastal cities where bikesharing is becoming popular. There are some unexpected hotspots, where groups of nearby cities have independently launched small systems. Colorado’s three cities is a growing cluster. Meanwhile, four Texas cities have bikesharing, plus two more in Oklahoma. Small systems are also popular in the southeast, with 6 systems in close proximity in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Oddly, the only area of the country that seems particularly underrepresented is the west coast. San Francisco’s Bay Area Bikeshare finally became the first large west coast system this year, but it’s still the only one. Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles continue to lag.

Here’s the complete list. New systems in 2013 are in bold. Previous years are available for comparison.

Rank City 2012 Stations 2013 Stations
1 New York 0 330
2 Washington (regional) 191 305
3 Chicago 0 300
4 Minneapolis (regional) 145 170
5 Boston (regional) 105 132
6 Miami Beach 84 97
7 Denver 53 81
8 San Francisco (regional) 0 67
9 San Antonio 30 51
10 Fort Worth 0 34
11 Chattanooga 30 33
12 Madison 24 32
13 Columbus 0 30
14 Houston 3 29
15 Ft Lauderdale (regional) 25 25
16(t) Boulder 22 22
16(t) Nashville 20 22
18 Charlotte 20 21
19 Long Beach, NY 12 13
20(t) Kansas City 12 12
20(t) Aspen 0 12
20(t) Salt Lake City 0 12
23 Austin 0 11
24(t) Washington State Univ (Pullman, WA) 9 9
24(t) Georgia Tech (Atlanta, Ga) 9 9
26 Omaha 5 8
27(t) Oklahoma City 7 7
27(t) George Mason Univ (Fairfax, VA) 4 7
29(t) Greenville, SC 6 6
29(t) Des Moines 4 6
31(t) California Univ – Irvine (Irvine, CA) 4 4
31(t) Tulsa 4 4
31(t) Spartanburg, SC 2 4
31(t) Univ of Buffalo (Buffalo, NY) 0 4
31(t) Lansing 0 4
36(t) Louisville 3 3
36(t) Stony Brook Univ (Stony Brook, NY) 0 3
38(t) Kailua, HI 2 2
38(t) Roseburg VA Hospital (Roseburg, OR) 0 2
? Hailey, ID 0 2
(approx.)

Notes: Systems covering multiple jurisdictions are counted either together or separately depending on how they choose to represent themselves. Thus Bay Area Bikeshare is counted as a single system, while Denver B-Cycle and Boulder B-Cycle are counted separately.