Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Bike to Work Day shows Denver’s people power

Next year they might have to call it Bike [or Paddle] to Work Day.

“One guy in Boulder e-mailed in to say that he and his friends were going to ‘kayak’ to work. Carpool to a spot and kayak,” said Keri Olmstead of the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG).

Another person, who rode his bike to the breakfast station at the University of Denver, had to pedal 23 miles to reach DU.

Still another intrepid rider, who lives in Thornton, rode to his job in the north metro area by way of Civic Center Park, across from the Capitol. All to show support for Bike to Work Day, which the legislature decreed would be the fourth Wednesday in June rain or shine.

“Some people came in huffing and puffing,” said Ben Turner (MBA ’08) of Transportation Solutions, who ran the DU breakfast station outside Driscoll North. “Others had only ridden about a mile. At least two moms were furious that there were no bagels. We ran out at 8:30.”

That was two hours into the biking event and after serving 78 Einstein bagels, juice, water and Kaladi coffee to hungry riders who pedaled into campus.

“I have four hungry children on my conscience,” said Turner, who also coordinated the breakfast station at Fillmore Plaza in Cherry Creek. That station had plenty of breakfast burritos from Whole Foods, a huge selection of juices and free repairs from Campus Cycle.

Had the famished families at DU pedaled to Civic Center Park, site of the biggest breakfast station, they could have enjoyed goodies from more than 50 vendors, plus inspiring words on cycling from Mayor John Hickenlooper.

All to prove that converting one trip to work by car into a trip to work by bike isn’t so hard, Olmstead says. “To get people to try biking.”

Last year, 35,997 people did just that, with a follow-up survey indicating that 57 percent of those who biked on Bike to Work Day felt encouraged enough by the experience to try commuting by bike again.

“We’re trying to get a new mind-set going,” Olmstead said. “Biking is good for your health, for the environment, it saves money. And Bike to Work Day is a great way to get people to try it.”

Precisely how many people hopped on two wheels Wednesday won’t be known officially until on-line registration closes Thursday, but Olmstead said the number of participants is on track to equal or exceed last year’s record total. At DU, an estimated 125 people participated, up from 105 in 2008.

“It was very successful,” Turner said.

Except, of course, for those who missed out on the bagels. Turner vows to get more sponsors next year so no one goes hungry again. But the fact was that cutbacks due to the economy tamped down many aspects of the event from previous years, Olmstead said.

“We can only do what we have funding to do,” she said. “A tough economy affects everybody.”

For information on Bike to Work Day, go to

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