Denver right now is essentially one big schwag bag. Everywhere you go, everyone’s giving stuff away: smoothies, condoms, booze, morals, you name it. The best freebie of all, however, has to be the Freewheelin program that has 1,000 bikes stationed around town for free public use. Yes, the bikes, equipped with embarrassing cardboard Freewheelin signs (which make it look like you forgot to remove the packaging) and matching green helmets, might not be the coolest-looking mode of transport, but hey, they’re free and in hot, congested downtown, they’re quick. And did we mention they’re free?
There’s something downright awe-inspiring about someone handing you a shiny, brand-new, several-hundred-dollar bike, no strings attached, and telling you to go nuts. Sure, you have to fork over your credit card info, but short of you taking off to Mexico on your two-wheeler, it doesn’t seem like they’ll be using it.
When I signed out a bike at the Denver Art Museum station, at 13th Avenue and Bannock Street (there are other stations at, among other places, the Convention Center, the Denver Performing Arts Complex, the “Big Tent” on Wynkoop and near the Pepsi Center), no one bothered to ask if I had any experience riding a bike (I haven’t ridden one in years) or whether I would actually wear the helmet they pressed upon me -- which I wouldn’t, of course, because I’m vain, vain, vain. Hell, they even gave me a free bike lock and a sweat towel to boot. No wonder cool-kid Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was there getting a free bike, too.
You even get your choice of rides: cruisers, automatic-shifters, mountain bikes. I have to say I was severely tempted by the one equipped with a 6-pack holder and bottle opener (these bike guys know what the DNC is really all about), but it had the girly low-crossbar thing and, as I have already said, I’m vain, vain, vain. The only downside is the bikes supposedly have to be returned by 7 p.m., meaning they’re no good for getting cross town to the Pepsi Center or Invesco. Though to test that rule, our web editor checked out a bike yesterday and has yet to return it. We’ll let you know if the bike police come calling.
In the meantime, go get your bike and hit the streets. Have we mentioned it’s free? – Joel Warner