When Denver Police Department commander Deborah Dilley speaks, people listen. And this month, Dilley is speaking about spokes — bicycle spokes.
In an effort to remind cyclists that they are legally required to abide by the same traffic laws as motorists, Dilley has teamed up with Brad Evans, founder of Denver Cruisers and Kickstand magazine, to create and distribute 20,000 brightly colored, laminated Ride Safe Spoke Cards with the rules of the road printed on the back.
"I probably get more complaints to my telephone about bicycle riders than I do about almost anything else...and I get those calls from everyone," Dilley says. Complaints include cyclists riding on sidewalks, running stop signs and failing to signal. At the same time, she points out, motorists need to share the road with cyclists, especially now that a new state law requires motorists to give bikes a three-foot berth when they pass.
Denver Police Department
The subject of bicycle safety is important to Evans, who leads a zany group of several hundred people on cruiser bikes around downtown Denver on Wednesday nights. While the Denver Cruisers have never had any problems with the police — an officer goes over the rules with the riders before each event — Evans says he heard a few months ago that the cops were poised to "crack down" on cyclists this summer. In 2008, Denver police handed out 248 tickets to cyclists riding on sidewalks, he notes, up from 57 in 2007 — and who knows what that number could look like this year? To avoid a crackdown and any resulting animosity between cyclists and police, Evans decided to meet with Dilley and city councilwoman Carla Madison to try to come up with a solution.
The result was the spoke card. "I'd rather educate riders than have them get busted," Evans explains. And they'd better study up, because "I'm looking to them to police themselves," Dilley says.
Are bike riders on an inevitable collision course with the cops? We may find out on Bike to Work Day, June 24, when the police will hand out thousands of the cards, which Evans was responsible for designing and ordering. On one side is the image of a bike and the words "Ride Safe." On the other are rules, among them drive your bike like you drive your car; obey stop signs, traffic signs and stoplights; ride your bike on the street, sidewalks are reserved for pedestrians; and always ride with traffic.
If things go well next Wednesday, Evans may roll out a series of collectable cards that feature different images on the front by local artists — the better to keep interest high. "The penalty system of giving tickets to bicycle riders serves little or no purpose if cars, cops and riders didn't know what the rules were," he says.
Still reeling: While the local film scene continues to roil (see this week's Letters column), there's good news about one Denver movie — although it comes from California, where Jamin Winans's Ink premiered last week at the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. "It was awesome, a dream come true, a packed house and a really great crowd," Winans reports. "I went to a little film school in L.A. that was right in Hollywood, and every day I used to walk on Hollywood Boulevard, to experience the history and see movies."
And now his own sci-fi film, the saga of a father and daughter stuck in an epic battle between good and evil that was made in Denver for under a million, has been shown in the same place where Citizen Kane premiered, and will soon move on to a two-week run there. "Apparently, it's sort of unprecedented," he explains. "The theater owner doesn't usually let indie films play there."
Local indie films don't always get great play here, either, but after first opening in Santa Barbara, Ink went on to pack the Starz FilmCenter during an eight-week run in Denver, and is now showing in Fort Collins and Greeley. After Los Angeles, it moves to New York for a June 9 engagement, then on to Portland, Oregon. And it might come back to play again in Denver, where it's developed a cult following.
But in the meantime, Winans is already thinking about his next film, which he'd like to make here again. "We'd love to keep shooting in Colorado. We've been shooting here all along," he says. "We have two different films we want to get off the ground. One is this big, epic sci-fi film that's going to take some bigger financing. We may ultimately have to do it through Hollywood, a studio."
Ink actually got some rare financial help from the Colorado Office of Economic Development, and Winans is hoping that the re-establishment of the Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media will mean more incentives not just for local filmmakers, but national ones who can help put Denver movie-making on the map. "It you put money in, it will come back. It's a really tough industry right now," Winans says. "But at the same time, the Internet's opening new doors, with options we didn't even have five years ago."
Golden rule: Larry and Kathy Levy, owners of the Club Matrix fitness center, feel some vindication after Denver District Court Judge Norm Haglund ruled last week that former Denver developer Craig Nassi personally owes the couple more than $1 million in damages for promising them twice as many parking spaces in the Beauvallon building as he delivered.
But Larry Levy doubts that collecting the cash will be easy. "We are going to have to try to search for the money, because he is going to say he is broke. We will probably be back in court with it," Levy says. Nassi has said he plans to appeal the ruling.
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Indeed, Nassi, who built the fourteen-story Beauvallon and three other Golden Triangle condo complexes before moving on to California, Texas and New York, is a tough man to find and tougher to pin down — as Westword writer Lisa Rab reported in "Fool's Gold," a January 29 feature that tracked the many complaints about him. (Neither Nassi nor an attorney for the Beauvallon could be reached for comment.)
But some form of resolution may be on its way for Beauvallon homeowners who filed suit against Nassi in 2007, claiming shoddy work. That suit was settled in March, and although the results were never revealed, Levy says $23 million in repairs to the exterior of the complex should begin soon: "It will be a two-year project to fix the defects. Scaffolding will go up. It will be good in the long run."
And that will be good for Levy, who plans to expand Club Matrix inside the Beauvallon and, if he can get the money he is owed, open a second location, possibly in Boulder. "We can and we will find a way to collect," he vows.
Scene and herd: A bunch of teenagers have been spotted several times over the past month spray-painting Denver's Rude Recreation Center. Someone ought to lock those kids up! Oh, wait, somebody already did. Turns out that all the artistic effort expended on a wall in the center's pool area is part of a $10,000 restorative-justice program funded by the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections. Since May 2, local graffiti badasses Delton Demarest and Jeremy "Jolt" Ulibarri have been working with twelve juvenile offenders to paint a 15-x-70-foot, under-the-sea-themed mural featuring all manner of oceanic creatures. To check out a short video we made about the groundbreaking project, go to blogs.westword.com/latestword.