Boulder Junction is supposed to be one of the most bike, pedestrian, and transit accessible places in our city: a place where owning a car is optional, and costly structured parking can be purchased a la carte, instead of bundled with every rental unit. It’s also supposed to be a major transit hub for the eastern core of Boulder, which is now building out. Transportation planners are often stymied by “the last mile” — it’s much cheaper and easier to do a few trunk lines than it is to put high frequency transit within a 5 minute walk of most of a city’s population. Planning for people to drive to get to transit means you still require people to own cars, and they still contribute to traffic congestion within the city. They also require exorbitantly expensive or land intensive park-and-ride facilities. For all these reasons, it’s in our best interests to make it as easy as possible for people to combine bikes with transit to solve the last mile problem. One of the best ways to do this is to provide plenty of convenient, secure, sheltered bike parking at major transit hubs — essentially creating a high quality bicycle park-and-ride, at a tiny fraction of the cost and space required for an automobile park-and-ride of the same capacity. This is the idea behind the “Bus-then-Bike” shelters that the City and County of Boulder have been collaborating to install — in Longmont, at the Table Mesa Park-and-Ride, and most recently, at the downtown Boulder transit center, as well as elsewhere. Three more of them are going in elsewhere along the US-36 corridor in the near future. Incredibly, it looks like we’re at risk of failing to do the same thing in Boulder Junction!
There’s still political wrangling to be done and funding to be found, but with a little luck we’ll see something resembling Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) coming to the US 36 corridor Real Soon Now. I think this is great, and will make very efficient use of the infrastructure, and limited tax dollars that we’ve got to spend from the FasTracks fund, but it does pose an issue for those of us who like to combine the regional express buses with bicycle-based last-mile connections. In the current RTD system, the regional buses have a huge amount of bicycle carrying capacity. There are two racks on the front, as with nearly all RTD buses, but the cargo bays underneath can easily accommodate another dozen bikes. Lots of the features that make BRT significantly better than normal buses also make them difficult to integrate with our current practice of taking our bikes along with us on the bus. See the Transmilenio system in Bogotá as an example:
The Atlantic Cities has a piece on the growing popularity of bus rapid transit (BRT), both in the developing world and more recently cash-strapped transit authorities in the US. When it’s done right, it’s been called a “surface subway” or “rail on rubber”. Done half-assed, it’s just another bus line. Let’s hope we get it right with FasTracks on US 36.
I’ve been biking along the Goose Creek bike path a lot over the last few months. Boulder Aikikai is out there, and so is Community Cycles, and I’ll go for a short triangular on the Boulder Creek path, 13th St. and Goose Creek when I just need to get out in the sun for a little while. Throughout the summer I was repeatedly reminded that there’s no good way to get from the path up to the east side of 30th St, and crossing 30th kind of sucks, especially when there’s any traffic. A couple of times I went so far as to go under it and the nearby railroad tracks, and then up into the parking lot, and back over the railroad tracks and through another parking lot. I’m sure this involved trespassing. And I wasn’t the only one doing it either, there was a trail worn in the grass and the gravel.
So I was stoked to hear that a ramp connecting Goose Creek to the east side of 30th was in the works, and this fall the heavy equipment came out and started making it a reality. I’ve been taking pictures as it progresses:
Dear Denver RTD,
I had the pleasure yesterday of riding my bike 19 miles from Lakewood to downtown Denver almost exclusively on cycling paths, all the way to Union Station, where I intended to catch a BX up to Boulder. I understand you are in the process of re-developing the old rail station to be a major multi-modal transit hub for the city, with a great deal of high density mixed use transit oriented development in the vicinity. So far, it looks absolutely great, and I applaud you for working with the city and developers to continue central Denver’s urbanization in an intelligent way, and make long term investments in non-automotive transportation infrastructure for the region. I am considering re-locating to the Denver area from Southern California when I finish my PhD, to work at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, and the region’s excellent transit system is one of the reasons. I prefer not to own a car or drive, for economic, fitness, and environmental reasons, and having high density mixed use developments and effective multi-modal transit options makes living without a car much more pleasant and convenient.