Last week I attended a tour of the historic Five Points neighborhood in Denver, where I snapped photos of a bike shop and the light rail line (as well as several pictures of old buildings). And while at a historic preservation conference at the Denver Convention Center this week, I snapped some shots of one of Denver’s bike share stations.

DSC04520

Abandoned stop on Welton Street.

After visiting the Black American West Museum & Heritage Center (which I highly recommend. It’s a fantastic museum.), our tour group walked over to Purple Door Coffee. This cafe is a registered non-profit. They hire street kids, give them job skills, and take them under their wing in other ways as well (counseling, housing help, etc.). The cafe owners specifically picked this location because it’s right next to a light-rail stop and they knew that easy access to public transit would be important given the employees they were going to be working with. But a month after the shop opened, this stop was shut down. The light-rail train still passes by, but it no longer stops here.

DSC04521

Same spot as the last photo, but looking in the other direction.

Eventually this line will go all the way out to DIA.

DSC04522

Yes, that is a train on the tracks coming my way. Yes, I am standing on the track. This line is right along the sidewalk, and with the snow, it’s hard to have a sense of where the pedestrian space is and where the outer edge of the train is going to be. …not that I didn’t know darn well where I was standing when I snapped this shot. But I’m just sayin’.

Light rail train

Light rail train

After our stop at Purple Door Coffee, we wandered down the street to Chocolate Spokes — a bike, ski, and chocolate shop. Yup, you read that right. Chocolate.

Gregory Crichlow, owner of Chocolate Spokes, explains the value of hand-crafted chocolates.

Gregory Crichlow, owner of Chocolate Spokes, explains the value of hand-crafted chocolates.

The owner of the bike shop happens to love chocolate. So he decided that in addition to fixing bikes and ski equipment, he’d stock his favorite American made chocolate bars as well. In fact, after getting the story on the building and how it was purchased and renovated, we then got a story on the making of chocolate (and why carefully crafted chocolate can be made with fewer ingredients so that all you’re really getting is pure, authentic perfection).

Old kids' bike seat.

Old kids’ bike seat.

Bikes in the shop.

Bikes in the shop.

The shop is pretty wide open, with the bike repair happening right out among where the customers are hanging out.

The shop is pretty wide open, with the bike repair happening right out among where the customers are hanging out.

Chocolate Spokes is located in a renovated historic building in Five Points.

Chocolate Spokes is located in a renovated historic building in Five Points.

Mural on the side of the Chocolate Spokes building.

Mural on the side of the Chocolate Spokes building.

DSC04538

Notice the metered parking along Welton Street.

After leaving Chocolate Spokes, we walked down the main drag in Five Points. From what I can tell, a two way street was turned into a one way with light rail on one side. So from sidewalk to sidewalk you have: sidewalk, light rail, a cement island with parking meters, a parking lane, two travel lanes, another row of parking and a sidewalk with more parking meters.

There’s not much buffering the sidewalk from the light rail, which I found to be somewhat disconcerting. I would be paranoid if I was walking with my little children on the light rail side of the street. It wouldn’t take much for a kid to run gleefully away from their mother thinking it was all fun and games only to end up on the tracks. Commercial districts often have a buffer of parked cars between the sidewalk and the travel lanes. Five Points has parking that buffers peds from cars, but not from the light rail.

With downtown in the background, it's clear to see that living in this neighborhood would be a short ride away from work or nightlife downtown.

With downtown in the background, it’s clear to see that living in this neighborhood would be a short ride away from work or nightlife downtown.

This photo was taken from the third floor of the library. There were two large development projects taking place. One is shown at right in this photo. The other was much larger and is to the left of this shot.

This photo was taken from the third floor of the library. There were two large development projects taking place. One is shown at right in this photo. The other was much larger and is to the left of this shot.

The light rail was put in back in the 1990s, so it’s been around awhile. Five Points only started to take off as “the place to be” within the last year or so. So the light rail clearly wasn’t the savior of the neighborhood, although I suspect it is helping to drive some of the current infill and development in the area now.

According to one local resident that we talked to, the light rail took an inordinate amount of time to install, which meant that the businesses on that side of the street were blocked from having foot traffic for an extended period of time. Several of the small, locally owned shops didn’t make it. New housing developments are now going up in their place.

Bike share station by the Denver Convention Center.

Bike share station by the Denver Convention Center.

I didn’t see any bike share stations in Five Points (despite the fact that there’s a sizable light rail station at 30th and Downing), but there is a station just outside the Denver Convention Center. This is also right next to a light rail station, making it a helpful means of getting to or from the light rail.

Bike in snow.

Bike in snow.

B-Cycle station kiosk

B-cycle station kiosk

With Denver B-cycle you pay $9 for a 24 hour pass. As long as you only use a bicycle for 30 minute trips or shorter, returning it to a station each time, then that $9 is all you have to pay. But if you go for a longer ride, then every half hour after the first 30 minutes will cost an extra $5. So if you grab a bike and take a 1 hour ride, you’ll be paying $14. For a 5 hour ride, you pay $54. (These are the specific examples listed on the kiosk.)

Fort Collins will be getting its own bike share program in April. Essentially the Fort Collins Bike Library is evolving into a bigger and better program with some staffed locations (like we have now) and some unstaffed (similar to the Denver bike share station shown above). Zagster‘s payment model is that “Every ride under 30 minutes is free, then it is $2/hour – so if you take it out for 45 minutes, you’re charged $2 on top of your membership fee ($7 for a day, $15 for a week, $60 for a year).” (Kelly McDonnell helped to update this article on the pricing, so the quote is from her. Thank Kelly! (5/27/16))

doesn’t charge by the half hour. So if you want to grab a bike and cruise the trails, or ride all over town, you don’t have to check in at a bike station every 30 minutes just to save a little dough.

Hopefully all of the details about where the Zagster stations will be located and how the system will work will be published soon. In the meantime, mark  your calendar for April 1st when the new bike share system will go online.

If you’d like to see more photos that I took while I was in Denver, check out the Forgotten Fort Collins post I wrote that includes this same Five Points trip — The Five Points Neighborhood in Denver.

%d bloggers like this: