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Denver Cruisers' solution to its trash problem: Pick up your garbage!

More folks are putting on costumes and cycling with the Denver Cruisers on Wednesday nights -- creating a trash problem that has become a bit of a headache for the city's Parks and Recreation Department. And if they don't come up with a way to clean up their act, it could be difficult for the group to maintain its weekly fun in Civic Center Park.

For you Denver Cruisers devotees, fear not! Reps from both the Parks department and the Denver Cruisers say that they are working well with each other and that the problem is getting better. In general, though, it's costly to clean up the garbage on Thursday mornings, and both parties agree that the event needs to come up with a way to create less of a mess.

Denver Cruisers' solution to its trash problem: Pick up your garbage!
Renee' Gautreaux

"We really tried to educate people about leaving no trace," says Brad Evans, a founder of Denver Cruisers. "But that's just impossible with a group this size.... The ride gets bigger and the trash gets larger."

Evans says he really just wants folks to be more respectful and take out what they bring in, especially when it comes to Civic Center Park -- a regular stop on most Wednesdays.

This morning's e-mail blast from the group features a link that tells people the event is a "trash free zone" alongside a semi-desperate plea for folks to be mature and clean up after themselves.

"It is somewhat embarrasing to get a call from P&R dept. that the park was still left a mess after having personally picked up bag after bag of your litter. It is baffling that adults cannot understand the basic notion of PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT. If this behavior continues, and you don't each step up and make a difference, you can kiss the COD goodbye," the note says. (COD refers to what the Cruisers call "Circle of Death" where they, you know, ride in circles in the park).

At tonight's event, which has a "Space Invaders" theme, Evans says that for the first time, he is bringing in a truck to help haul out trash at the end of the night. He thinks that should help with the situation, which Martin Flanigan, operations supervisor with Parks and Recreation, says was pretty bad at the beginning of this season thanks to plastic glitter, beer cans and bottles, some of them glass -- which are against park rules. For that reason, the department was forced to assign four employees for four hours to clean up after the Cruisers. That's a modest but significant financial drain on the department, he says.

Flanigan is confident the department won't have to ban the Cruisers from Civic Center Park on Wednesdays. Even so, he's given the group warnings that the trash situation needs to improve -- and Evans feels the same.

Page down to read more about the Denver Cruisers' trash problem.   "People have got to realize that when they have events like this, it takes away from other parks if we have to spend all of our time there...cleaning up," Flanigan says. "When you are doing an event, you are supposed to take care of the trash."

Evans says the group, which has sponsors, already spends around $450 a week for a permit to be in the space, as well as around $425 for portalets -- and he doesn't think he could spend much more for trash collection. At this point, he has no idea how many people join the ride, but that he stopped counting a few years back when numbers reached 500.

Evans says he wants the Denver Cruisers to have a good reputation.

"I'm trying to build a partnership...so cycling is more acceptable," he says. "I want people to respect it...and that doesn't happen when people are leaving trash everywhere."

Yet Flanigan stresses that the Parks department has no intention of being the bad guy.

"[The Cruisers] are getting to be a pretty renowned thing in Denver in the bicycle community," he says. " We don't want to be killjoys."

Here's the full note on the Denver Cruisers site:

It's unclear to us of what part of LEAVE NO TRACE doesn't register with those that come one the DCR. i got word last week from Park staff that should the COD be left in the condition it was left last week, our weekly stop at Civic Center will no longer be permitted.

The weekly cost to the DCR for the permit and portalets is $800+ week to provide this venue, and all we ask from you all is that you pick up after yourselves and behave in a responsible way.

It is somewhat embarrasing to get a call from P&R dept. that the park was still left a mess after having personally picked up bag after bag of your litter. It is baffling that adults cannot understand the basic notion of PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT. If this behavior continues, and you don't each step up and make a difference, you can kiss the COD goodbye. This is a unique opportunity to keep something so fun alive, and all it really takes is a few minutes of your time to pick up your trash, and that which as been left by your careless peers.

Does leaving a place better than you found it not resonate? Seriously. This is a special thing we have, and unless each of you take it upon yourselves to clean up after yourselves, and those that refuse to do it themselves then there will be no more COD.

More from our News archive: "Denver cycling accidents on track for all-time record in 2012"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.


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