Denver GEARS: a new resource for the biker in everyone
(June 25, 2013) What keeps you from bike commuting? Are you concerned about safety? Are you not sure your level of fitness is going to cut it? Thanks to the University of Denver and several bike-friendly programs, you can now gear up and ease your fears! Denver GEARS (Get Energized And Ride Sustainably), an interactive website and mobile resource, connects beginner riders with safe routes, bike repair pit stops, advice from experienced "GEARS gurus" and more.
The GEARS project is a collaboration between DU's Emergent Digital Practices (EDP) program, the Center for Sustainability and a variety of bike programs throughout Colorado. In order to create something new, GEARS worked with programs like OpenBike and BikeDenver to provide complimentary resources.
While OpenBike provides bike route information, on the GEARS website you can watch video of various bike routes to campus to see what your commute will actually look like. This feature gives the inexperienced biker an idea of traffic patterns and road conditions to help you feel more confident about your ride. GEARS also shares videos by IntownBicycles of simple bike repair tutorials, like how to lube your bike or adjust your gears.
Unique to GEARS are the "GEARS gurus," a group of bike enthusiasts who offer their advice and experience to encourage you to join them on the road. Read their stories online, and start a conversation by tweeting @DenverGEARS or posting on their Facebook wall.
"It's a great first step towards engaging students with DU's carbon neutrality goals," says Brandon Gellis, an EDP graduate student, and the branding and marketing lead for GEARS and the Center for Sustainability, "but it's also an important project beyond that. It's about community awareness and encouraging dialogue about sustainability."
Increasing the number of bike commuters in order to help reduce the school's carbon footprint had been on the mind of Chad King, the University's sustainability coordinator, so he presented the issue to Professor Conor McGarrigle in the EDP program. McGarrigle's Designing Social Good class tackled the problem and created GEARS.
In addition to addressing sustainability and DU's carbon footprint, GEARS also aims to increase commuter ridership and promote healthy practices.
The GEARS project targets "interested but concerned" cyclists, a group who research conducted by the City of Portland is described as curious about cycling but largely don't ride, and makes up 60 percent of the cyclist population. "They are concerned about safety and also have concerns about whether they have the requisite levels of fitness to cycle," says McGarrigle. "We set out to target this group by addressing these concerns about safety and the difficulty of cycling to campus."
The GEARS team hopes to expand the project beyond the DU campus to have an impact on Denver and the Front Range. Gellis says it best: "It's simple to be proactive."
Learn more about Denver GEARS: