A quick trip to Colorado last month put us in the Denver International Airport on our way to Boulder, CO. We don’t know of two greater contrasts in transportation designs in one region. The experience was a study in the extremes we see in our modern world.
The Denver International Airport has been on the design radar since its inception in 1994. It rises out of nowhere in the high plains, like modernist Bedouin tents. Inside it feels like a study in efficient mobility with everyone everywhere in motion. The architecture firm, Fentress Architects, designed the airport and it lives up to their slogan “Inspired Design for People.” A speedy tram zips you to terminals. There are elevators, horizontal conveyor walkways, and escalators in every space. They whisk you around like magic inside the space. But once you get your bags and look for public transportation, it smacks you. You are stuck. You are 15 miles from anywhere. Denver is one of the few major airports in the entire world that is not connected to its city by some form of rail. Taxis and rental cars are your only way out. OK, there are buses (sort of) but who wants to pack into a bus, especially after a plane flight? It is as if the car rental agencies and taxis conspired to form a monopoly. Maybe they did. How uncivilized.
Nearby, Boulder is the opposite extreme i.e. very civilized. The city is designed to encourage people to walk, ride bikes, take public transportation, and reduce their dependence on cars. There are bike trails and well-signed paths everywhere and bike racks of all shapes and sizes all around town. For bike geeks there are several amazing bike stores like University Bikes (an amazing collection of vintage and modern bikes) and Vecchio where you can test ride a PUBLIC. For novice riders they even have a website, Go Bike Boulder that tells you how to get from A to B on a bike. With 300+ miles of bike paths within the 24.5 square miles of the city, this is very helpful. Boulder is not Amsterdam, but bikes do set the pace around downtown and you’ll see the full range of bikers from costumed nighttime bike parades to Lycra clad bike tri-athletes. And maybe the highest sign of civic enlightenment was that the bikers seem to obey the laws and leave the downtown pedestrian mall for pedestrians. Perhaps kudos goes to the City of Boulder for offering support and easy access to Bicyclists Rights and Responsibility on their comprehensive website. This is all very optimistic and idealistic – other cities could learn a lot from this example. The bike industry advocacy and educational organization Bikes Belong is headquartered there and it certainly belongs there.
What the Denver International Airport and Boulder have in common is that they are somewhat insular communities that attempt to provide the best mobility experience for people within their walls. However, they do not deal with the regional issues i.e. what to do when you are outside of their community. For this planning we do need government involvement, legislation, and public advocates.
It is our hope for enlightened transportation planning, whether that means high-speed rail or bike lanes.
And with another election season upon us, we encourage everyone to vote for candidates who prioritize sound transportation, bicycle and pedestrian-oriented land-use planning. And if you live in California, a strong NO vote against Proposition 23 is important. It’s worth a bike ride or stroll to your polling booth to vote NO against the disastrous, backward Proposition 23 that’s largely funded by big oil companies. This issue is not complicated.
We have been besieged by requests from customers since the day we launched for an affordable all-purpose city bike. Our design team put this request on our fast track and we will have two new bike models here by mid-November. We are having a contest to win one of these bikes. So here is a chance to be one of the first to ride one, and for free. The bikes will be priced at $495. We will have full specifications up next week, but you can get a sneak preview and enter the contest today.
We will be adding a wide range of new products this fall, including new Tretorn shoes like these Skerry Reslig rain boots. Made from all natural and PVC-free rubber, these 100% waterproof boots were originally designed for heavy-weather sailing. Which also makes them a welcome solution for biking on rain-soaked city streets and sidewalks. They could even make puddles fun again.