Update: The new RiNo bike lanes on Blake Street, which we previewed last week (see our previous coverage below), are in place — and the folks at the RiNo Art District are ready to celebrate with two of Denver's favorite words:
The event, Bike Down Blake!, is scheduled to get under way at 4 p.m. on Thursday, September 1, with a pre-party hosted by RiNoVELO. Once riders have topped off the air in their tires, they'll head to Blake, which now features two-way traffic between 35th and Broadway, with bike lanes on either side marked with a stylized cycling variation on the RiNo logo.
Among the features riders will find on Blake:
• Beryl's Beer Co. for $1 off beers
• Free music and drink specials at the Preservery
• The Fitness Branch
• Goodies and music at RiNo, River North Art District offices
The party's end point is Rackhouse Pub/C Squared Ciders/Bierstadt Lagerhaus, where everyone who arrives by 6 p.m. will receive a free happy-hour beer or cider.
Click for more information about Bike Down Blake! Continue for our previous coverage.
Original post, 6:37 a.m. August 24: This week, the City of Denver is converting Blake Street from a one-way route to two-way traffic between 35th Street and Broadway, in the heart of RiNo. And as part of the process, crew members will be putting down new bicycle-lane markings: a stylized version of the RiNo Art District mascot riding a bike.
In part, the markings are another way for the art district to brand the rapidly growing, ultra-hip area, and Jamie Licko, the district's executive director, admits that making it happen wasn't easy. But she says the concept is also about making it clear the neighborhood is bicycle-friendly — something that she sees as especially important during a time of growing tension between Denver-area cyclists and drivers.
"We've definitely been pretty clear as a neighborhood that we want to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists," Licko says, "and we have a lot of both. But our neighborhood hasn't been particularly friendly to either — and we're trying to change that."
According to Licko, the idea for the bike-lane markings began "early on, when we were working on the design for the Brighton Boulevard project," which will get under way this fall; it's slated to include a hundred new benches, new landscaping and light fixtures, 2.6 miles of sidewalks where none currently exist and a new cycle track between 29th and 44th streets. "We were talking about how to keep the character of RiNo alive, and people responded with such excitement about the imagery of a rhino on a bike."
Problem is, no markers of this sort had previously been allowed in Denver.
"We took it up with the city," Licko recalls, "and we heard things like, 'There are standards and guidelines for these things.' But we pushed a little bit and eventually got through the process. We made an agreement with the city that because we have a business improvement district in RiNo, we would be able to do special things on the streets."
These additions include what Licko describes as "creative crosswalks" that will be put in place in the coming months. But first up is the pedaling rhino, which she says "will help identify our neighborhood in the interesting, kooky way we'd like to be known" — and other parts of the city will now be able to offer their own spin. As she notes, "We worked with the city to create a precedent for other neighborhoods to do the same thing."
Beyond that, however, is a broader message about bike-friendliness.
"We're trying to get as many bike lanes as we can, and the conversion of Blake Street is a big part of the story," she notes. "There will be bike lanes on both sides of the street. We hope that will calm traffic significantly, and we also hope that putting interesting things on the street" — like the rhinos — "will help slow down traffic, too, and cause people to pay even greater attention to the bike lanes. So this is definitely a celebration of cyclists and a thank-you to cyclists for coming to our neighborhood."
There's more to come. Licko reveals plans for a "pop-up Bike-Down-Blake-Street party" that will be scheduled soon after the completion of the project, complete with lots of free stuff — "because we want to encourage people to come up and try the new bike lanes."
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More pedestrian-focused projects are on the way in RiNo, too. Says Licko: "It's all part of us trying to make RiNo a more interesting and inviting neighborhood for all different types of transport users."
And to help make sure they all get along.