I live in Southeast Denver. I don’t own a car, nor does getting one seem like something I will do in the near future. When my weekends happen, unless I have a ride, I usually stay within the Denver area due to RTD’s reduced weekend service on regional routes.
Two weekends ago, however, was different.
I decided to go on a bike ride, using the “suggested route” from Google Maps, to get to El Callejon (a really good Colombian place that everyone should try) in Golden from the Goldsmith neighborhood where I live in Southeast Denver. Here’s how it went.
From Home to Confluence Park
My apartment is relatively close to the Glendale entrance on Cherry Street to the Cherry Creek Trail. From there to Confluence Park, things are fairly smooth. However, one gripe I do have is the stretch in front of the Denver Country Club. The path is super narrow, the underpass below University near Cherry Creek Drive seems like a deathtrap, and I constantly feel bottlenecked in this area because of the high traffic. Once I get past the Country Club, however, things are fairly good through to Confluence Park.
Images below: 1.) Entrance to the Cherry Creek Trail in Glendale; 2.) Protected bike lane near Rocky Mountain Lake Park; 3.) Map showing the first third of my journey.
Confluence Park to Clear Creek Trail
This stretch is possibly the most bizarre of my commute. While bike lanes and trails do exist (particularly the one after Federal and 46th shown above), the bicycle network seems to be only partially fleshed out. I felt this a lot when I was going from I-25 and 46th to Federal Boulevard, often feeling unwelcome on a street that features only faded lines and bike symbols on the pavement to protect me from the motor vehicle traffic.
Reaching Sheridan Boulevard was frustrating to a degree as well. At one point, I thought I would have to use what I assumed was a “service road” to find my way to the trail, but then realized that it was just West 48th Avenue south of I-70. When I found out that I would have to cross I-70, I did and used Marshall Street to get to Creek Side Park and ultimately to Clear Creek Trail.
Images below: 1.) Traveling past Lakeside Amusement Park; 2.) A section of the Clear Creek Trail; 3.) A map showing the middle third of my journey.
Clear Creek Trail to Golden
Outside of the route that I take everyday on the Cherry Creek Trail, the Clear Creek Trail was the clearest part of my commute. In a lot of ways, its design is similar to the Cherry Creek Trail, with several major and minor exits, very defined areas, and a well-maintained infrastructure. Other than an underpass near near a major intersection that was slightly confusing, Clear Creek Trail was, for lack of a better word, clear. After climbing a hill that followed the Golden Freeway and riding by the Coors plant, I was there.
Image below: A map of the final third of my bike journey from Denver to Golden. Featured photo at top: I’ve arrived in Downtown Golden.
This was my first time going the Denver-Golden route solo, with no assistance from anyone outside of my phone and my wit. While the middle portion, particularly between I-25 and Sheridan, was somewhat confusing, I felt like it was just a blip in what was otherwise a great ride.
As an urbanist that often wants to get out and see the best of what the Front Range has to offer outside, it is an important value to me to have infrastructure available for cyclists, pedestrians, and anyone who doesn’t have a single-occupancy vehicle to use for commuting inter-neighborhood, inter-city, and inter-county. If someone with a car can experience the best that the region has to offer, why can’t everybody?