Party Conventions May Be Bike-Friendly After All

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A couple of weeks ago, as part of the "Bike Unfriendly Place of the Week" series at Streetsblog Los Angeles, I took a look at the bike planning at the Democratic National Convention. Local press reports were dire, noting that bike racks near the Pepsi Center in Denver would be closed down as part of the Secret Service’s security perimeter. However, after thinking it over, I realized I may have had a "can’t see the forest for the trees" moment; after all the advocacy group Bikes Belong has arranged for a free bike-share program for each host city during the convention. Instead of focusing on the negative, I could have looked at how the bike-share program will work around the Secret Service’s security concerns.

Upon closer review, it appears that bikes will integrate with the convention pretty well. Thanks to the efforts of Bikes Belong and the openness of the DNC, the 1,000 free rental bikes will have plenty of places to safely park throughout Downtown Denver and near the convention center. The bike rack at the transit hub across the street referenced in press reports will be supplemented by a temporary bike shelter holding roughly 250 bikes. In total, there will be eight temporary racks around the city. Two of them will hold 250 bikes and another six will hold 100 bikes each. As for access to Obama’s big speech at Invesco Field, details are still being worked out.

Bikes Belong hopes that all participants in the convention take advantage of the free bike sharing program, be they delegates, elected officials or even nominees. Bikes will also be available to any local wishing to try a little two-wheeled travel while the convention is in town. Avery Stonich, Bikes Belong communications director, sums up the feelings of the bike community in Denver: "People will remember that bikes were a part of this year’s conventions long after we forget where the security lines were drawn."

In short, it’s a bummer the Secret Service is blocking off the Pepsi Center’s bike racks, but overall this could be the most bike-friendly political convention ever. That is, if it’s not topped by the Republican National Convention next month in Minneapolis, where, according to Stonich, similar efforts are underway to make bikes a part of the event.

Photo: Damien Newton

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