Denver Bike Sharing and the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation are applying to Great Outdoors Colorado for a grant that would cover installing six new B-cycle stations in four city parks. But if the two agencies are successful in their monetary mission, these bike-sharing stations will be a little different from the other B-cycle stations around town: They won't carry any advertising.
That's because Denver doesn't allow advertising in its parks. This is a divisive issue that bit the city most recently in 2009, when entrepreneur Bill Airy proposed putting bag dispensers in the parks that people could have used to clean up dog poop. Airy wanted to fund the system by allowing pet-supply stores, veterinarians and other like-minded businesses to advertise on the dispensers, but a vociferous bunch of neighborhood groups complained about commercial messages clogging their precious parks. And the neighborhood groups won this fight — although Airy's company, Poo Free Parks, has since landed contracts in Aurora, Lakewood and other municipalities in Colorado and around the country.
Kaiser Permanente is the "presenting sponsor" for B-cycle, which means it gets to have its name and logo on almost every station in town. But because of the city's ban on advertising in public parks, Kaiser's mark doesn't appear on the four B-cycle racks that are already located on park land — and they won't appear on any new ones, either.
"We don't consider it an issue," says Denver Bike Sharing spokesman Ben Turner. "Kaiser is aware of it, and they understand."
"There will still be advertising on the baskets of the bikes that come and go between the park stations and other B-cycle locations, though," notes Angela Casias, spokeswoman for Parks and Recreation. "We can't allow permanent advertising. But since the bikes are movable, they are not considered permanent advertising."
To help win the $350,000 GOCO grant, Denver Bike Sharing hosted a series of public meetings last week, looking for feedback on the proposed stations. And for the most part, Turner says, neighbors are excited about them. "It's an amenity for them, and it's a way to take some of our underutilized parks and activate those spaces."
B-cycle operates 52 stations and 520 bikes, and plans to add another 25 stations (including the ones that would be funded by the GOCO grant) in 2012. The proposed new park locations are at the Denver Zoo, at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and at East 17th Avenue and Steele Street, all in City Park; in Hungarian Freedom Park, at First Avenue and Emerson Street; in LoHi's Community Plaza Park, at 33rd Avenue and Osage Street; and at South Marion Parkway and Virginia Avenue in Washington Park.
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The B-cycle bikes will return for the season on March 12.
Scene and herd: B-cycle isn't the only project that's run into the roadblock of city parks rules. Change.org has posted a "Free the Food Trucks!" petition to bring back Food Truck Row — a group of mobile vendors that used to park on Bannock Street in front of the City and County Building. "It appears that the City of Denver enforces a law that stipulates that no vendor can be within 300 feet of any park or parkway, in our case Civic Center Park, without getting approval from the Parks and Recreation Permitting Office," reads the petition. "If approved, each food truck must pay a non-refundable $25 application fee and an additional $100 for a One-Day permit or $200 for a Monthly permit. This equates to approximately $1000 or more imposed on the Food Truck Row if there are at least five trucks gathered together. Therefore we need YOUR support, the PUBLIC VOTERS, to petition the City of Denver that they waive the required permit for Bannock Street, as the Food Truck Row has NO conflict or competition with the Civic Center Park, nor does it occupy the park."
Over a year ago, the city established a food truck task force that stalled when Denver City Councilwoman Carla Madison passed away; this petition could help get the group back in gear.