Jul 10

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U.S. 36 Bikeway Update

Boulder to Denver Bikeway

U.S. 36 bikeway

U.S. 36 bikeway

I really want to give you some good news about the trail formerly known as the Boulder to Denver Bikeway. I was hoping  that “phase 1” of the cycleway would be completed by now. But alas, I suppose if they’re having this much trouble figuring out what to call the bike path, (first touted as the Boulder to Denver Bikeway and now being called the U.S. 36 Bikeway) then actually getting the trail completed might be asking for a lot.

A Tale of Two Bikeways

It turns out that the portion of U.S. 36 Bikeway that was supposed to be finished by early June 2015 is still incomplete. But let’s take a look at the portion that is completed. Since we’re going to call this major urban connector trail two different names, let’s go ahead and stick with that theme and divide the currently completed bikeway into two segments.

Louisville to Church Ranch:

This section will be defined as safe but confusing. Bicyclists can ride this section of the trail without crossing any major roads. They may get lost several times because this section is completely free of directional signage. But at least they can ride it without taking their lives into their hands.

Church Ranch to Sheridan:

Let’s label this particular section of the trail as dangerous but well-sign-posted. Once you get to Church Ranch Blvd., you are expected to cross a major intersection in order to continue your journey to (currently) nowhere. BTW, this intersection has a pedestrian crossing button you can press; and absolutely nothing happens. You press the button, then sit and wait through numerous cycles of traffic-light changes. But you never get a walk sign. My guess is that there is a hidden camera nearby and group of “U.S. 36 Bikeway engineers” is monitoring it while wagering how many traffic cycles it will take before the pesky bikers & pedestrians finally realize they are never going to get the official go-ahead to cross. My guess is that they are also laughing uproariously. Then, as you proceed a little further down the trail, you’ll arrive at Sheridan Blvd. where you have two options: You can either cross an extremely dangerous intersection where the trail disappears, or you can….  Okay, you really don’t have any logical options. Either way you go, the trail ends right here. And if I read the final bikeway plans correctly, you will likely have to cross Sheridan, at-grade, even when the trail is completed. Maybe someday they’ll install a toll-lane that costs bicyclists $36 to get all the way to Denver without risking their lives. In the meantime, see what you think of this game board concept:

The U.S. 36 Bikeway Game

This game combines The Game of Life with Chutes and Ladders for a fast-paced, exciting look at how not to plan a bike trail. So, like the Game of Life, you start by choosing which path you want:

  • Drive a car on Highway 36

    • upsides – fast, relatively easy, relatively safe
    • downsides –  pollutes the environment, no exercise, can be expensive for gas, parking, etc.
  • Ride a bike on U.S. 36 Bikeway

    • upsides – provides exercise, doesn’t cost anything, is environmentally friendly
    • downsides – You could die. (There are others, but this one pretty much trumps the rest.)

Now the fun begins. Once you start playing the game, you have all sorts of benefits but lots of potential pitfalls:

  • Driving 36 Parkway positive options – It starts raining and you’re dry and warm in your car while those suckers on the bikeway are getting soaked. Move ahead 3 spaces.
  • Driving 36 Parkway negative options – After spending $50 million of your taxpayer dollars and two years of delays and detours, you read in the newspaper that they will start “phase 2” of the project that will cost even more and result in another two years of delays. Move back 3 spaces.
  • Bicycling U.S. 36 Bikeway positive option – It’s a beautiful, sunny Colorado day. You are enjoying the peacefulness, serenity, money-saving, environmentally-friendly benefits of riding your bicycle into Denver where you will relax over a cup of coffee and good book at the Tattered Cover Bookstore. – Move ahead 3 spaces.
  • Bicycling U.S. 36 Bikeway negative option – You are blindsided by a speeding car as you cross Church Ranch Blvd. Game Over.

Stay tuned for the New & Improved version of the game that offers a third option: Commuter Train from Boulder to Denver. Start saving your pennies, because this option could be available as early as 2040. (or possibly never)

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2015/07/10/u-s-36-bikeway-update/


  1. David

    I hope that work continues to improve the bikeway. It is an expensive venue, but may as well get it to be in a functional form at this point.

    1. trailsnet

      Thanks for the comment, David.

      Yes, like all major projects, it’s fairly expensive. But compared to the costs of building a new road (highway 36 in this case), the cost of a bike trail is minimal. And the road is only good for one thing: transportation. In the meantime the road has many downsides including pollution, fossil fuel consumption, traffic, congestion, promoting a sedentary lifestyle, road rage, etc.

      Whereas the MUCH less expensive bike path is good for transportation, exercise, a healthy environment and recreation. The bike path provides so many more benefits for so much less expenditure of funds.

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