I rolled up to Union Station Friday morning, locked my beloved Surly Pacer to a post with a u-lock and thick cable, and prayed to the bicycle gods it would still be there in 45 minutes.
Because while there were plans seven-ish years ago, when Union Station was being reborn as a modern transit hub, for a fancy-schmancy secure bicycle parking facility, they dissolved like a cheap padlock under an angle grinder. And people have noticed.
But there’s hope!
The Downtown Denver Partnership, with help from the City and County of Denver, is planning to open a secure bicycle parking facility at Tail Tracks Plaza, at 16th and Wewatta streets, this coming winter or early next spring.
“The facility will provide needed resources to promote biking in the Mile High City and further Denver’s goals to provide mobility choices and make it easier for people to walk, bike, and take transit,” Nancy Kuhn, spokeswoman for the department of transportation and infrastructure, wrote in an email.
The facility is meant to help combat bicycle thefts near Union Station, said Andrew Iltis, vice president of planning and community impact for the Downtown Denver Partnership. The partnership recently surveyed 40 bicycle parking facilities in commercial buildings downtown, and concluded that more publicly accessible ones are needed
“We know the demand isn’t just here in Union Station,” Iltis said. “It’s really citywide, particularly around dense urban neighborhoods. … We’re going to hopefully kind of set a little bit of a precedent with the city on how to do this.”
The Downtown Business Improvement District would maintain and manage the facility, Iltis said. It will cost about $150,000 to build and hold 50 to 75 bikes, which will make it less than half of the size of the original 2014 plan. The exact floor plan isn’t known just yet – the project isn’t yet out for bid — but it will likely be an off-the-rack facility that won’t include amenities like showers.
“It’s pretty basic,” Iltis said.
A monthly membership could run $10 or less, he said. For comparison, RTD has some bike lockers at most park-n-ride stations (including 27 at Union Station, 19 of which are leased, per RTD) that cost $60 a year. Boulder County has free large bike-n-ride shelters at many popular transit stations too.
Restaurant and retail workers will have “first crack” at the new facility, Iltis said, who are less likely to have secure bicycle parking than white-collar workers.
Iltis and I wrapped up our interview and I walked back to my bicycle at Union Station. And, dear reader, I’m happy to report it was safe and sound.