Bike share companies are cropping up across the nation and world, offering city-dwellers healthy and inexpensive transportation to recreation and resources in their communities. Denver’s B-Cycle has more than 700 bikes available, and last year they served 61,000 members with the help of their new BCycle App.
The bike share, which covers almost 12 square Denver miles, is partnered with Kaiser Permanente. The two nonprofit, health-centric organizations are launching an initiative to engage people in northern Denver neighborhoods: RiNo, Globeville and Elyria-Swansea.
The message, to spend more time on bikes and experience a healthier community, will be pedaled by social media and driven by word-of-mouth. Therefore, Kaiser and B-Cycle needed spokespeople from the communities to amplify the message. The best way to get people talking in those areas is through art. Local creatives Robin Munro, Pat Milbery, Jason Graves, Thomas Evans and Anthony Garcia, recognized for being activists or community leaders in some form or fashion, were chosen to paint four B-Cycle bikes that will be revealed at the initiative’s launch event on May 31 at B-Cycle’s headquarters. The four bikes will be available to ride the next day.
Pat Milbery of So-Gnar Inc. Creative worked with Kaiser Permanente last year to create a mural in Denver that promoted mental health as part of Kaiser’s “Find Your Words” campaign. He felt honored to be involved and see that initiative become a success. This time, Milbery, who’s lived and worked in the RiNo area for years, is enjoying working with fellow artists he’s respected for their styles and community work.
“My goal is to create a bicycle that helps people enjoy being around the neighborhood that we all love as well as experience more of the world-class local, national and international art we have right outside our doorstep,” Milbery said.
The painted bikes revealed at the campaign’s launch events will display a photo of each artist and a blurb in which they’ve recommended particular nonprofits that are vital to the community; for example RedLine Art Gallery, Volunteers of America, and the Posner Center for International Development, which has a B-Cycle station right outside its doors that serves a number of tenants who make use of the bikes for lunch and errands.
“We’re encouraging people to think about volunteerism and how it has to do with health and how it all connects,” Kaiser Permanente’s Nicholas Roper said. “It’s this entire, total health environment.”
The campaign doesn’t have a quantified goal. It’ll be considered a success, Roper said, if more people ride B-Cycle and the northern Denver community starts more conversations about volunteering, getting active and exploring together.
Sue Baldwin of B-Cycle said the Art Bike project is an ode to the neighborhood. “We wanted to develop something that would shine a bright light on the amazing work being done by other nonprofits and businesses and help promote health and wellness through the heartbeat of art,” she said.
While B-Cycle bikes are great for skipping clogged Denver roads on the commute, they’re also meant to help active Denverites maintain a work-life integration lifestyle.
Denver reaps the rewards of that lifestyle. According to Baldwin, since 2010 more than 140 million calories have been burned by B-Cycle riders and nearly nine million pounds of CO2 emissions have been avoided in the process.
“We’re proud to be powered by Kaiser Permanente and all our sponsors and supporters,” Baldwin said. “It truly does take a village to change commuting habits and encourage more people to get out and ride.”
You can meet the artists, nonprofits and neighbors for light refreshments at the upcoming launch events.
Where: Denver B-Cycle headquarters, 2737 Larimer St., Suite A, Denver
When: 10–11 a.m., Thursday, May 31
The Lowdown: The bike artists, Kaiser Permanente and B-Cycle representatives, highlighted nonprofits and community leaders and members will gather to celebrate the campaign launch and painted bike reveal.
When: 6 – 8 p.m., Friday, June 1
The Lowdown: Denver B-Cycle will be open just like the other local galleries during the First Friday RiNo art walk. Patrons are encouraged to come see the bikes that will be added to the B-Cycle stations the following day.