Even though Denver is one of the most bike-friendly cities you’ll come by these days, being a bike commuter or casual cyclist in the Mile High can sometimes be difficult. This comes from a variety of issues, including driver animosity and just finding the right route. Before you hop on your fixie, or before you go Google “fixie” if you’re not from a bike-centric city, consider the following things to help you get around Denver.
Know the Rules
There are rules. Even thought you’ll see these broken regularly, for your own safety and to avoid a citation, you’ll want to keep them in mind. These rules include stopping fully at red lights and stop signs, and riding on the same side of the street as a vehicle would. For a full list, check out bikedenver.org.
As you begin riding more regularly, you might start to think, “but I can just slow down at this red light then continue going if no cars are coming.” The Denver Police regularly patrol areas in which this happens and running a red light via bicycle can result in a large citation.
Helmets are not legally required in Denver, but if you want to protect yourself, they are highly recommended.
Know the Roads
There are a few streets in Denver where bicycles are not permitted or are too dangerous for cycling. Colfax Ave does not allow bicycles, and Broadway and Federal are both extremely busy roadways with no room for cyclists. Broadway is on the list for future bike lanes, but for now, stick to the side streets.
The more you ride, the more you’ll discover which bike lanes you prefer, but a full map is available here. Common favorites include the Cherry Creek Trail and 18th street.
Get a Bike & Find a Shop
Some people prefer gears, some prefer fixed gears. Depending on what you like to ride, and where you live, you’ll want to buy a bike accordingly. Fixies are great for a flat ride, but prepare to be challenged regularly if you live somewhere like the Highlands or Cap Hill.
You’ll also want to find a shop you trust to work on your bike when it inevitably breaks. Every single neighborhood has its own local shop, so ask around and try some shops out before choosing a favorite. You’ll want to find a shop that knows how to work on your style of bike for a fair price.
Get a U-Lock & Register Your Serial Number
No, seriously, get a U-Lock. Denver bike thefts are extremely common and you’ll want to make your bike as difficult to steal as possible. In addition, recording your serial number, even if you just snap a quick photo of it, can help you recover your bike if it is found by the Denver Police or being re-sold on Craigslist.
Denver is a beautiful city to bike in year-round. If you follow the rules, know where you’re going and get the best bike for you, you won’t be disappointed. That’s a promise.