How "Mixed Mode Commuting" Can Make Your Business or Personal Life More Successful : Electric Bicycles and Public Transportation


Active Member
Denver has an excellent mixed-mode commuting infrastructure(i.e., bike paths and RTD transport) that is vastly underutilized. The Denver biking community flourishes. Traffic congestion in Denver is like any other major US metropolitan area. The goal of this article is to inspire potential commuters, biking industry stakeholders and local government — the mixed-mode commuting service system -- using Denver as a model city. You will learn how to improve your odds for success.

Even if you have little interest in public transportation, you will learn how to design any type of service for a local government, small business or national organization, based on cognitive science (i.e., psychology). Service means both personal and internet services. The psychology in this example is simply about feelings, beliefs and needs.

Most people will not bike more than two miles, which is the lynchpin of this discussion. If you realize that most people will not pedal beyond two miles, you have understood the crux of commuter psychology. Success with mixed-mode commuting beyond a five mile radius requires fitness and mental determination. You might enjoy biking at high speeds for ten or twenty miles, like me, but we are clearly the most obscure minority.

I feel increased connectedness between commuters and the mixed-mode commuting service would significantly increase the percentage of commuters who would regularly bike to work, especially beyond two miles. I do not know the current level, but the 2015 level was about 2%. An increase to 3% is a huge relative improvement. Who would not want their business to increase by 50%?

The National Bike-to-Work day was a huge success in my neighborhood, but the effects lasted for just one day. A well designed, service-orientated web site, combined with strong local support, is a prerequisite to embolden people to bike part of the way to work. The fundamental problem that technology and local support can solve are psychological and social issues. One form of local support is bike shops sponsoring “commute tours”, as well as recreational tours. Keep in mind that the tour should only be a mile or two long. The goal is show people safe and easy routes that may not be found online. Also, explain the amenities available at the destination, like bike lockers and security features.

Just working out a viable route can be a show-stopper for many people, because finding the most desirable route is a lengthy trial-and-error process that will likely discourage most people. If the rider has the wrong equipment, the whole route planning process will end after the first attempt. Basic necessities like clearly marked bike routes are a big hinderance for many people to reach a train station. Adequate bike security at the train station is a obvious human need. If you have any interest in business or personal success, you will push to ensure basic human needs are met. Otherwise, only a tiny percentage of the population will cycle to work.

The effectiveness of a service system can be measured by the connectedness of the components, as illustrated in the following diagram. The diagram answers the following issues:

  1. Which features should be included or excluded from a service?
  2. Which entities need to implement specific features?
  3. How to capture the inter-connectedness of the system to identify the weak links.
  4. How to model social and psychological aspects to ensure success.
  5. How to specify and quantify a mental process.

I live near the Ken Caryl RTD Park-n-Ride station on C470. I pass by the Ken Caryl RTD station on my bike a few times each week, en route to the Mineral Ave RTD station area. My observation is the the parking lot is never used beyond ten percent of its capacity. I have only ever seen a few bicycles or ten cars in the parking lot. In contrast, the Mineral Ave RTD station parking lot often full by 7AM or 8AM. Traffic at the Mineral Ave. and Platte Canyon Rd. intersection, close to the RTD station, is usually very congested by 7AM.


My mother lives close to the Mineral Ave RTD station, so I am very familiar with all the bike paths in that area. The black-and-white discrepancy between the Ken Caryl Ave. and Mineral Ave stations is inexplicable, until you look at the two mile personal biking limit on the map in the next discussion. The awesome C470 bike path connects the two stations through beautiful Chatfield State Park. The nine mile, east-bound direction is an almost entirely gradual downhill incline. RTD also offers bus and a Call-n-Ride shuttle service between the two locations. Numerous shorter, alternative routes are accessible via bus or shuttle along Ken Caryl Ave.

For example, the flat Massey Draw Trail in Wayside Park is midway between the two locations, on the east side of Wadsworth Blvd. A rider of any ability level can progress to higher levels in 2.5 mile increments.

Riding difficulty cannot be the reason why people avoid these bike paths, because any active person can find a suitable route. “Backtracking” is an approach to determining the reasoning by beginning with the outcome. Reversing the order of the system model flowchart, displayed at the top of the article, we create the following reasoning chain:
  1. Outcome
  2. Experience
  3. Behavior
    1. Reluctance
      1. Persuasion
    2. Tendency to Participate
  4. Perception Filter
    1. Role-based
    2. Cognitive
      1. Feelings
        1. Enjoyment
      2. Distance Estimation
        1. Less than two miles?
    3. Social
      1. Image
  5. Feature
    1. Avoid traffic
    2. Reduce costs
    3. Exercise on bike
    4. Proximity parking
    5. Internet image
Let’s link the reasoning chain from "Outcome" to the “Avoid Traffic” feature using a real life example. Recently, the C470 traffic flowed to about 10-20 mph due to bridge construction in the Chatfield State Park area. One day, I passed all traffic between Kipling and Wadsworth C470 exits on my bike. The frustration and anxiety generated from serious congestion deters me from driving. In fact, biking is the antidote for those bad feelings.

The Experience and Outcome in my case was excellent, so the Service Designer succeeded in creating value by simply enabling me to enjoy myself. The Service Designer in this case were the government officals involved with creating the bike paths. A Service Designer was also the person who marked the bike path on Google Maps, so I could learn about the opportunity.

How can we quantify feelings?

The Google Maps Traffic feature already color codes traffic congestion for you. Let’s take a step towards statistics, without getting bogged down by technical considerations. A scale from -3 to +3 can mimic standard deviations. I want to avoid any technical discussion of statistics, so no further explanation of standard deviation is provided. Suffice it to say that a scale from -3 to +3 puts you on much firmer statistical ground than a simple scale from +1 to +5 (which is arbitrary).

I prefer to use -3 to +3 for another reason that improves accuracy — ordinary English usage. Almost all adjective pairs can be directly mapped to a -3 to +3 scale, without the need for interpretation or explanation. For example,
  • Worst(-3),
  • Worse(-2),
  • Bad(-1)

  • Ambivalence(0)

  • Good(+1),
  • Better(+2)
  • Best(+3)
The Google Maps Traffic information can now be used as factual evidence about feelings, rather than subjective opinions about traffic congestion. The service designer’s goal is to create greatest value by comparing before and after outcome from the experience. Google Maps Traffic feature can help locate the bike paths, car routes or RTD stations that maximize emotional benefit. All you need to do is associate Google Map colors with the -3 to +3 scale.

A saavy entrepreneur can exploit this information to host events at the most advantageous locations or times.

How can we measure inter-connectedness of the service system to determine the weakest links?

Government studies are very proficient at gathering data. The major problem I see with government studies is a lack of psychological models, like the diagram presented above. I will discuss a Denver report in the next post to illustrate how a model can improve effectiveness. Bicycle industry involvement is a key link that must be included in any study.

I feel the weakest link is the lack of technology services to connect people based on their needs. Cycling is all about efficiency and experience — both mental and physical. Inefficient or inexperienced cyclists suffer and are unlikely to participate without guidance. A great deal of suffering can be avoided by careful route selection. The Google bike path mapping feature is probably more harmful than helpful for inexperienced commuters. Knowing which route to take for different conditions, especially wind or time constraints, is paramount. Knowing how to pedal efficiently with the most appropriate equipment, for different situations, is essential. Traveling in small groups, or pairs, provides huge psychological support.

Some simple tips, like using pedestrian tunnels or bridges to cross intimidating streets, can drastically improve participation. Most people are unaware of where the bike tunnels are located. Pedestrian tunnels and bridges are not explicitly marked on Google maps. Moreover, beginners need to understand the physical mechanics of cycling and bicycles to avoid struggling and discouragement. Cycling is ranked as the eighth toughest sport by Sports Illustrated. Cycling is an activity where all the odds are seriously stacked against an inactive or unprepared novice.

Electric bikes can greatly level the disadvantages, but electric bike selection requires expert knowledge. You can easily waste thousands of dollars on an electric bike that does not meet your needs.
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Active Member
Denver Bicycle Parking and Accessibility Plan - See page 45 for the Recommendations. Big improvements can be realized in simple and inexpensive ways. The reasons for failure are easily prevented.

The mixed-mode commuting infrastructure in Denver is great! However, most people are reluctant to bike more than two miles. This map helps you identify areas where you might have the greatest chance for success.

Here's a map that I would use to identify the best locations to open a new bike shop or hold events. If your bike shop is already in one of these areas, then you can easily drive more business to your store by reading the report provided above. If you are located outside of Denver, the same principles can still benefit your business.

If you live in one of these areas, then you might have more resources available to you than you realize. I live in one of the uncolored areas. Finding the bike paths and trails in my area can be very difficult, because they are poorly marked and marketed by local governments. This is low-hanging fruit for everyone, but it takes a serious, concerted effort. I can tell you from personal experience that it is a slow, frustrating trial and error process. Often you will find a great solution just a few blocks away. Be adventurous!

You can find partners with neighborhood services like

If you are looking for an area to start riding from, the colored circles might be good hints.

If you live outside of Denver, consider making a map for your area to increase awareness.

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Active Member
Denver Bicycle Parking and Accessibility Plan

Quickly skim these pages to understand the issues that discourage cyclists:

  1. pages ES-6 through ES-8 (Executive summary)
  2. page 24 - Transit Access Guidelines
  3. page 28 - Bike Decision survey results, also attached as a graphic
  4. page 29 - Bike Decision survey summary
  5. page 41 - Case studies from three other areas
  6. page 45 - Read the entire Recommendations chapter
    1. Policies to Encourage Bike Access
    2. Increase and Improve Bike Access to Transit
    3. Modify and Enhance Bike Parking
    4. Enhance Bike Marketing
    5. Tracking and Evaluating
If you work for a corporation, please provide or arrange for clear navigation instructions, secure bike parking facilities with bike sharing access for your employees within a mile of a train station or bus stop. Also, ensure bike sharing to/from your office. Showers may also be very welcome, but are the lowest priority. You can make a big difference!

More importantly, you want to focus on the employee experience. The psychology involves feelings, beliefs and needs. Employees will have a strong tendency to be either reluctant or eager to participate. Social programs that reward and connect cyclists will have a profound impact on their participation. That all comes back to you in the form of more loyal, happy and productive employees. Who wants to deal with a grumpy employee who had to battle traffic congestion to get to work on time? Or fire one?

Having an online experience tracking system is very important. You need to know which link in the system fails. All it takes is one weak link to break the entire delicate chain.

One suggestion is to focus within a one mile radius, or less, of a bus stop or train station. The shorter the distance, the more likely people will bicycle. If you are a commuter or business person, try to bring bike sharing to your area (e.g., B-Cycle). Commuters do not need to worry about bike theft. Business owners will generate significant traffic to their shop. The most important legs of a commute, and biggest opportunities, are the last mile to a and first mile from a bus stop or train station.

If you are a business owner, consider providing the services commuters need: first/last mile bike sharing, secure bike parking for their bikes and repairs. Bike-sharing from your shop will drive business, especially repair and parts revenue. Work with the government officials so they can obtain the information they need. Government officials need your input and help.

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Active Member
I will summarize this report as time permits. WHO report on "Towards More Physical Activity in Cities"

WHO Physical Activity.png

"Levels of physical activity are strongly determined by the physical environment, and smart improvements to the design and layout of our cities can have significant benefits. Yet many people living in cities across our region currently face barriers to being physically active. Challenges include the continuing dominance of car traffic on the road, with limited provision of integrated options for active transport; issues relating to the accessibility of green spaces and other public spaces for recreation, particularly in the poorer sections of our cities; and a lack of human scale in the design of public spaces that discourages use or makes physical activity impractical or uninviting. New approaches to urban planning and design that take such barriers into consideration offer great potential to achieve improvement in rates of physical activity."

Page Excerpts:
  • p.7 "For mayors and local leaders who are working to improve the quality of life in urban environments across Europe, well-planned walkable neighbourhoods, affordable housing and services with access to plenty of green and public space, as well as multimodal public transit options, will make a significant contribution not only to attainment of health goals but also to a more balanced and equitable urban development."

  • p.25 "A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies concluded that walking and cycling reduce all-cause mortality and that public health approaches would have the biggest impact if they managed to increase walking and cycling levels in groups that currently show
    the lowest levels of these activities."

  • p. 31 Putting the bike first.
  • Copenhagen has been highly successfulin creating a very bikeable city centre. The City of Copenhagen now has explicit strategies for regional cycling, including initiatives such as cycle superhighways, green ways for cyclists, and promoting and adapting the cycle infrastructure for electric bicycles (e-bikes).30 Copenhagen has set itself the ambitious goal of becoming carbon- neutral by 2025, and cycling is one of the key sustainable transport strategies that is expected to help achieve this.

  • It may be that the main motivation for Copenhagen’s politicians in promoting cycling is that achieving a 75% cycling/ walking modal split is essential to reaching the city’s sustainable transport goals, but the co-benefits for health are also an important consideration.
    The strategy adopted in Copenhagen recognizes the need to look beyond the city centre and integrate wider transport systems. Similarly, in Dresden, it now is permitted to take bicycles onto trams and even onto buses. On a working day, 6000 (1.5%) passengers take their bikes onto a tram or bus.
  • p. 23
  • Congestion in these rankings is defined as a percentage increase in overall travel times when compared to a free-flow situation, using speed measurements from a historical traffic database. These speed measurements are used to calculate the travel times on individual road segments and entire networks. Busier and more important roads in the network have more weighting in the outcome than quieter, less important roads.49
  • "Active Aging" - an important concept for elderly well-being
  • p. 28
  • In recent years, concepts such as liveability, urban sustainability and urban resilience have moved near the top of the urban agenda. The concept of the “healthy city” might not always be at the forefront of city visions, but it is embedded in the concept of the liveable city, and a study of zoning policies suggests that physical activity as a motivation appears to be becoming more prominent in recent years and is associated with higher levels of policy innovation.59

  • To get physical activity on the agenda, the same study calls for the importance of physical activity to be framed in terms of other dominant concerns, such as liveability, dynamic centres and economic development. Health agencies are encouraged to work in coalitions to focus arguments on behalf of physical activity. A central concern for many cities today is to plan for improving people’s quality of life and to create urban environments that are responsive to the everyday lives of their citizens.

  • For decades, urban planning was dominated and driven by a strong focus on cars, but this is now changing to a focus on creating cities for people that have balanced mobility systems and in which active mobility is encouraged. This shift offers a huge potential for co-benefits.

  • p. 30 What is a healthy city?

  • A healthy city is not one that has achieved a particular health status – it is defined not by an outcome but by a process. A healthy city:
    • is conscious of health and strives to improve it (thus any city can be a healthy city, regardless of its current health status);
    • is committed to health and to a process and structure set up to achieve it;
    • is one that continually creates and improves its physical and social environments and expands the community resources that enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and developing to their maximum potential.

  • p. 38

  • Start with the basic needs of safety
  • Focus on where people are
  • Provide freedom of choice

  • Safe routes
  • If pavements and cycle lanes/paths are not seen as safe, the chances are you will only attract those who are brave enough to risk exposure to dangerous situations, and not those who are most in need.
  • Evidence that women, children and older adults are using them is a good indication that safe routes for cycling have been created.

  • p. 40
  • A vision is often formulated in positive terms: for instance, “achieving sustainable and healthy transport for all”, “making the city a good place to live and invest”, or “making the city carbon-neutral” or “more competitive”. Cities may also have ambitions, such as to become a “green capital” or similar.
  • A good example is the Sustainable Edinburgh 2020 vision, which states that in 2020 Edinburgh will be “a low-carbon, resource-efficient city, delivering a resilient local economy and vibrant flourishing communities in a
    rich natural setting”.73
  • As such, focused efforts to reduce motorized transport and increase active transport are likely to be means to achieve a wider vision or goal, and increased physical activity can be a by-product of specific measures taken to achieve that goal. In implementing action to achieve their goals, cities need to develop strategies and policies that recognize the need for a stepwise approach; they need to ask: what are possible first steps and how might they lead to desirable change in the long term?
  • Convenience and flexibility
    In addition to information gained through the human senses, a number of other factors affect people’s behaviours and general motivation towards physical activity. One such factor is the busy lifestyles that are now so prevalent and the consequent lack of time, which makes it difficult for many people to fit daily exercise into their everyday lives. Convenience and flexibility of choice should therefore feature prominently in plans to promote physical activity in cities, so that it can be accommodated without too much effort
    in people’s daily routines. This means ensuring that the necessary infrastructure is accessible, that people do not have to go out of their way to get where they need to go, etc.
  • p. 54
  • To promote physical activity, there should be more integrated approaches to implementation in which different kinds of need are considered at the same time. In other words, more physical activity is not brought about simply by focusing on walking, cycling or playing. Crucially, it is about making cities more appealing to spend time in and to attract people to get out and use the city.

Is this why I cycling so much -- The Need for Stimulus?


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Active Member
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Active Member
Now that we have all the basic information behind us, let's design a hypothetical service for 24 Fitness, using my town as an example. The two mile bike ride along a the scenic Platte River trail is about the maximum distance any typical commuter would ride.
  1. I would ride 7.5 miles from home to 24 Hour Fitness to take a shower.
  2. I want to securely lock my bike at or near 24 Hour Fitness.
    1. The Pedal Bike Shop is a couple of blocks from 24 Hour Fitness.
  3. Pedal a bike share bike to the RTD train station.

Our focus in on the hypothetical experiences a commuter might have. We want to design according to a psychological model that focuses on:
  1. Beliefs
  2. Feelings
  3. Needs
Another partner is Trek with their BCycle bicycle sharing program.


What needs to happen?
  1. The businesses must work with local government officials to make the route to the RTD station clear.
    1. I could not find the station on my first attempt.
    2. The second attempt was better, but not straightforward.
    3. An alternate route must be marked, because Little's Creek is intimidating. Flash flood warning signs are posted all over the route.
    4. I did not feel safe, which is a basic human need.
  2. Let's assume Denver Bicycle will provide two stations.
  3. We need an an online experience tracking application to get feedback.
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Staff member
For mixed mode commuting to work, we really need plentiful and secure bicycle parking, as well a better ways of bringing ebikes along on buses and light rail.

Wouldn't it be great if buses had bike racks that had lifts in them, so we could role our ebikes onto the rack without having to lift them? And, wouldn't it be great if there were train cars in commuter light rail systems that were optimized to carry people with their bikes?


Active Member
For mixed mode commuting to work, we really need plentiful and secure bicycle parking, as well a better ways of bringing ebikes along on buses and light rail.

Wouldn't it be great if buses had bike racks that had lifts in them, so we could role our ebikes onto the rack without having to lift them? And, wouldn't it be great if there were train cars in commuter light rail systems that were optimized to carry people with their bikes?
The solutions seem so simple and inexpensive. I feel American culture harbors a deep disrespect for bicycles and cyclists.

I doubt those basic enabling solutions will arrive in the near future. For me personally, keeping the total weight of motor and battery under ten pounds is more practical. The power assist level software needs to be smarter. Only provide power when it is truly needed. I only need power when i pedal standing up. A torque sensor in each pedal should be able to detect when i stand up.

On a bike path, i typically stand up to pedal once each mile. Standing up saps at least half of my energy and strength. I stand up to pedal because i do not want to downshift and slow down when going up short hills. I stand up to pedal from a standstill on streets, e.g., stop signs, traffic lights, etc...

More importantly, the electrical system needs to be pedal resistance free. Design the electrical system for carbon frames, rather than heavier aluminum.

A 200 watt motor, 200wh battery and 55NM of torque is adequate for me.
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