Getting Around Denver Without a Car

Things to Do, Travel Tips — By Jess Steinitz on June 30, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Denver, like most cities between the Mississippi and the Sierra Nevadas, has a mild case of urban sprawl. Unlike those other cities, Denver has worked aggressively to make getting around the city without a car easier and simpler – a welcome change, especially since gas prices under $3/gallon seem to be a thing of the distant past.

One option is the Denver light rail. It stops all over central Denver and is great for getting pretty much anywhere from Coors Field to the Theatre District to Elitch Gardens. It’s also useful for long hauls into the suburbs, although you’ll have to hop a bus if you want to go to Boulder or Denver International Airport. More information, maps, and schedules are available on the Denver public transit website.

Probably the best method of getting around is by bicycle. Bike lanes run throughout the city, although they’re not perfect and can occasionally end without proper warning. To combat this, both BikeDenver and pretty much any bike rental shop offer maps of official and recommended bike routes throughout the city. If you’re a serious cycler who plans on taking long rides all over, it’s best to rent a bike from a bike shop. There are too many shops to list here and reviews vary wildly, so do your own research on what sort of bike rental shop meets your specific needs.

This may sound like a lot of work for the casual cycler who’s just looking to take short hops around town. For this, there’s Bcycle, a bike-sharing service that keeps rental bikes stashed at about 50 locations around town for you to use at your convenience. Current rates are $6 per day or $20 per week for access to unlimited 30 minute-or-less rides between stations.

Denver Bcycle rentals

The main catch with Bcycle is that you get charged $1 for going over 30 minutes and increasingly more for time after that. Furthermore, you can’t check the bikes out overnight, so that means no participation in the legendary, several-hundred strong weekly Denver Cruiser Rides. If you do go with Bcycle, make sure to either print out a map of stations from their website or pick up a copy of The Voice for $1, the homeless advocacy magazine sold by homeless vendors around town that includes a Bcycle map.

Finally, and most ridiculously, there’s Denver Patio Ride, the human-propelled bar hopping machine that lets you and several of your friends pedal your way from bar to bar. Ostensibly, no alcohol is allowed on board, but rumor has it that this regulation goes unenforced. If you’re looking for the most absurd way to hit up as many of Denver’s microbreweries as possible, you’ve found it.

With a light rail and bike rentals at your disposal, why drive around in a car in a city that has more than 300 days of sun a year?

[Photo courtesy of Flickr/paulswansen]