Bicycling to Justice

by michelle bontrager in


For some of us city dwellers our bicycle is our personal transport system. We hop on our bicycles every morning to self propel ourselves to work. We ride to appointments and social engagements for this is why we choose to live in the city.

bicyclists are happy and friendly

bicyclists are happy and friendly

An intriguing article about safe urban cycling was just published in the Guardian, “Can Johannesburg reinvent itself as Africa’s first cycling-friendly Megacity?, May 24, 2016”

Johannesburg, a city that has been transforming itself for the last 20 odd years, wrought with social justice issues, has come to realize that the ability for all of it’s inhabitants to transport themselves without peril will be a measure by which to elevate their communities.

After reading this article I challenge you to question our own access to safe walking and bicycle paths. Denver cyclists do not face the same obstacles that our South African cousins face but our world is not idyllic.

  • My bus trip to Boulder last week was 2 hours each way, a 45-minute drive by car.
  • I know a bicyclist of color who packs a handgun because he feels unsafe riding bike.
  • Random motorists, especially motorcyclists, drive up alongside me while I am bicycling and verbally assault me for riding my bicycle on the street. 
  • I know of several bicyclists who have been hit by cars on 15th street, a downtown street with a dedicated bicycle lane, each of them requiring extensive surgery . 

Clearly our city has plenty of room for improvement in providing safe and efficient transportation options. 

Saturday Evening

Saturday Evening

American attitudes need to change towards those of us who choose not to drive. Activities such as walking, riding the bus, and bicycling should be perceived as normal transportation methods.

Let me introduce the proposal currently in front of the Denver City Council to transform 35th Avenue into a Bike Boulevard. (https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/bicycling-in-denver/infrastructure/yearly-archive.html) This proposal includes street build-outs as an effort to slow vehicular traffic and create safe pathways for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Not every citizen can afford a car

Not every citizen wants to drive a car

Not every citizen is able to drive a car.

Safe bicycle routes and friendlier pedestrian ways are not just for the convenience of a few but for the rights of many. 

I encourage you to contact the following city council people with your vote for the proposed 35th Avenue Bicycle Boulevard.

Rafael Espinoza            rafael.espinoza@denvergov.org

Robin Kneich                 kniechatlarge@denvergov.org

Debbie Ortega               ortegaatlarge@denvergov.org