In countless neighborhoods throughout Denver, there is an obvious lack of connectivity for non-vehicular travel. Transit riders, bicyclists and pedestrians are often faced with unrealistic options to get from point A to point B. Unfortunately, while this is a widespread issue throughout the city, low-income neighborhoods often bear the brunt of insufficient multi-modal transportation options, which is ironic as it is traditionally low-income families in need of it most. Thankfully, there are numerous organizations in the city advocating for improved infrastructure, increased multi-modal options and better access to alternative transit options.
One such group is Northeast Transportation Connections (NETC), a nonprofit advocacy group working to reduce single occupant vehicle travel, and encourage sustainable transportation in Northeast Denver. NETC first started working with Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) in 2015 while providing consultation services during a 1.5 year community outreach endeavor for our 303 ArtWay urban trail. NETC played a critical role in gathering over 1,100 surveys to determine the best design, location and concepts for the future bike and pedestrian trail in Northeast Denver.
In an effort to increase mobility options in Northeast Denver, NETC launched a bike library in Stapleton to provide easier access to bikes. As they explored additional areas in Northeast Denver to launch bike libraries, NETC looked to a partner they made during community outreach for the 303 ArtWay: Prodigy Coffeehouse.
“The 303 ArtWay is actually a major reason we chose this location,” said Eric Herbst, Assistant Director for Northeast Transportation Connections. “Prodigy Coffeehouse will be right at the beginning of the trail which offers easy access into the Northeast Park Hill community.”
Prodigy Coffeehouse is a nonprofit coffee shop and apprenticeship program in Northeast Park Hill, just blocks from RTD’s 40th and Colorado Commuter Rail Station. Brady Grant, the Director of Learning at Prodigy, explained that the partnership with NETC to place a bike library on their parking lot was an exciting and pivotal opportunity. Grant explained that the NE Park Hill community has a great need for a bike share program, and with such close proximity to a light rail stop, their coffeehouse just made the most sense.
“We are so excited,” Grant said. “The future bike library is a truly open access point for members of the community. Also, any opportunity for our apprentices to learn a new craft or a new skill is a huge opportunity.”
While the concept behind the bike library is loosely modeled off of a traditional bike share program (think B-Cycle here in Denver), it is actually a drastically different idea. The membership only costs users $20 per year, a fairly nominal expense compared to other transit options. The rental period varies from 24-48 hours, giving riders the flexibility to go around town, run errands and truly get the feel for owning a bicycle of their own.
The partnership will also directly benefit the apprentices at Prodigy. Not only will each employee receive a full year to utilize the bike program at no cost, but they will also have the opportunity to be trained in bike mechanics if they choose. Apprentices will also be expected to act as “bike librarians,” assisting with the checking in and out the bikes. This includes a providing riders with a check out form, offering an overview of road rules and giving riders bike safety equipment such as a helmet and u lock.
Here at ULC, we recognize this great opportunity to provide alternative transportation options to the residents of the Northeast Denver community as a path towards true affordability through sustainable methods. The official date of the bike library’s grand opening is not yet determined, but expected to be sometime in November or December of this year. Stay tuned for more information, which you can find on our Facebook page in the upcoming weeks!