Friday, October 3, 2014

Bikes, Beer, Babes, and Social Justice

Winter Wonderland Cruise 2014

If you’ve spent a summer in the Denver area, and, you know, you like to ride bikes and what not, you’ve probably heard of Denver Cruisers (aka Denver Bike Night). If you meet these criteria, it is also a safe bet to say you’ve probably found yourself in a costume that relates to other participants, drinking an adult beverage, pondering whether or not to tempt fate by riding into the Circle of Death. You’ve probably torn through the streets, HOPEFULLLY respecting the Law of the Land, enjoying what could have been brushed off as another typical hump day. With the regular season having met its match in Mother Nature, the long haul of costume-less, cold weather rides is now upon us. As the cruise down memory lane commences, one should not only revel in the majesty of the passed season, but take the time to savor how Denver Cruisers is leaving a positive footprint in the city of Denver.

The final ride of the season offered everything a rider could want. There was a time-honored theme (Winter Wonderland!), an extremely fitting location, DJ bikes, food trucks, riding swiftly in circles, and enough LED to make any EDM enthusiast's pants a little tighter. While the Groove Subaru stage and table threw me for a loop (I guess if you want participation to grow, the luxury of dancing to random tunes from a DJ bike isn’t enough enticement), the party went off without a hitch. Participants were happy, planners were ecstatic, and the long line of loud flashing bikes will forever be etched in our memories. The season came and went, but unlike the ostentations parade of peddling partiers, the Denver Cruiser folks coyly promoted their understated agenda. 

Some bikes stick out amongst the crowd
While Cruisers often gets criticized (sometimes understandably) by city officials and occupants, the truth is, the organization itself has a much larger mission than getting folks dressed and liqoured up on weeknights. Denver Cruisers is part of a citywide initiative known as MindTheBike. The campaign was established to promote bike safety in Denver, using slogans like, “If you are a dick, you will be treated like a dick - it’s the basic law of the universe.” Though their media is humorous, the goal of promoting safety for both bikers and city occupants isn’t a laughing matter. Denver, as an up and coming city, has seen the influx of bike commuters grow about as fast as the real estate market. MindTheBike encourages riders to know their rights, obey traffic laws, ride sober, use lights, helmets, and locks, as well as reminding all people “Don’t be a douche bag.” A quick glance at the website can align any visitor with the rules of the road, such as… BIKERS AREN’T SUPPOSED TO RIDE ON THE SIDEWALK ASSHOLE IN THE TURN LANE WHO WON’T WAIT YOUR TURN! Subtly aside, Denver Cruisers and MindTheBike have made bombing down our city streets not only safe but sexy. 

Along with promoting bicycle safety, Cruisers also helps promote local business and stimulate local economy. Wednesday's meet-up, now under the moniker of Denver Bike Night, partners with different bars to act as start-up locations. With the birth of a hump day eve, hundreds of rowdy participants flock to the chosen bars before embarking on the ride. At the meet-up Bike Party, participants are bestowed the ability to purchase nourishment from local food trucks. After the Man vacates the Bike Party, another bar is chosen for the Official After Party, creating another lucrative night for the food and beverage industry. 

While cruisers has its flaws and critics, it is undeniably a positive event in the streets of Denver. The creative take on stimulating economy, supporting local business, and encouraging the safe use of green transportation has transformed our city for the better. There are always going to be those who think it's OK to block traffic, run a red light, or throw fireworks into the Circle of Death, but these outliers shouldn’t deter from the main event. Denver Cruisers is a shinning example of why our city is flourishing, and what can happen if we encourage creative ways to inspire the masses. 

Participants getting ready to cruise 

Photos courtesy of author

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