This Baseball Field Ought to Hold a Few Thousand Bikes - Freewheelin'
Day 4
0 comment Friday, September 19, 2014 |
It's over! And now that I'm caught up on sleep, I'll attempt to recount the final day of Freewheelin' as it happened here in Denver.
But first off, this was a huge success. I believe that we have shown that the citizens of America are hungry for bike sharing, and will use it if given the option. The ridership and miles traveled exceeded all of our most optimistic expectations. Here are the raw numbers:
Total Rides: 5,522
Total Mileage: 26,463
Lise proposed that BikeDenver award both Humana and BikesBelong with a BikeDenver Bike Friendly Business award, and got it together in a couple of hours (nice!):

Left to Right: Gary, Elizabeth, Tim, Will, Lise, Piep
Right after this, the Hispanic delegation came by for a group ride. Here's Henry Cisneros speaking beforehand:

Sorry about the persistent name dropping, but seriously, who would have thought that all these big shots would be riding bikes around a city? I think it's an important and unprecedented social change that we're seeing happen, and it's good to have these guys and gals as allies.
While the Freewheelin' program was open to everyone, we realized it was going to be mainly people who didn't ride already. Anyone who was already a bike commuter would have their bike with them, so to be frank, Freewheelin' did not directly benefit most of your everyday bike commuters and riders. I think those folks won't be too upset, but we also wanted to include all cyclists as much as possible for the events at Invesco on Thursday night.
Working with the DNC planners, the City, and Parks & Rec, BikeDenver, Bicycle Colorado, and BikesBelong thought it would be a big statement if we could get an enormous space for anyone who rode there to park their bike. The DNC folks were totally supportive, and wanted us to get something like 3,000 bikes parked. We needed the biggest bike corral ever. We ultimately got the green light on the ball field in Rude Park from everyone involved, and guestimated how many bikes it would hold (we thought 2,000). It all came together in a hurry at the last minute, and Bicycle Village even came through with food and a repair tent.

Freewheelin' set it up so anyone could ride over on a bike for a one way trip (program concluded at 7 PM). Nate bet Andy and I that there would be fewer than 70 people that did this, I now wish we'd put money on it, because here's how many people took Freewheelin' up on the offer:

This was at 2 PM when I left, ultimately over 300 people rode over on Freewheelin' bikes
Here's another 400 bikes at 2:00:

We would ultimately fill up three and a half rows of bikes, something like 1600 bikes from the community, plus another 300+ from Freewheelin'. Walking into Mile High Stadium, there were Freewheelin' bikes everywhere:

As well as a ton of local bikes:

There were even bikes in Invesco, here's a paramedic on wheels:

I gave my other credential to Erin, my sister, and we had a great time at the event:

It was really packed in there, and the excitement was coursing through the crowd:

After the speech, we went back to the corrals to pick up our bikes. It was great seeing all the cyclists of Denver coming to one spot:

Here's all the Freewheelin' bikes:

If I have one takeaway from this extraordinary week, it's that things have changed. This event catalyzed the bike community, pulled in the support of the public and political leaders, and opened a lot of eyes as to what could be in Denver, and in fact any US city if enough people come together to make bikes a part of the transportation infrastructure. As a year round bike commuter, I've often imagined what it could look like, but having no experience with the European systems, I have never actually seen what this could look like. Freewheelin' combined with our everyday bicyclist population showed us what we've only imagined. It really surprised a lot of people, and the public surprised us by how quickly they were willing to change and get behind this system.
For now, Freewheelin' has concluded, but there is about a hundred times as much support for a permanent bikesharing system in Denver than there was before Monday. We'll get our start on a permanent program in 2009 with a donation of 70 bikes and 7 kiosks from Humana, and from there, who knows.
Kudos to Brendan, Nick & Josh for putting in tons of hard time on all these projects, and to all the readers who volunteered, and members of the bike community who provided the volunteer hours and expertise to make this happen.
I'm left with an overwhelming sense of pride in Denver and in being a cyclist. Cheers to the afterglow!
PS: I also found out I had my picture in the paper earlier in the week. As you can see, I am right behind Elizabeth from Bikes Belong (in front in blue), recognizable by my team Colavita helmet and asphalt colored BikeDenver shirt.

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