Lakewood Bicycle Advocate Gary Harty
The founder of the Lakewood Bicycle Advisory Team loves his life on two wheels.
Gary Harty was born in Bellows Falls, Vermont, and raised in Colorado – Denver Metro area, and now makes bicycling in Lakewood, Colorado safe and fun. Gary is part of the baby boomer generation. He attended Colorado State University (CSU) and graduated with B.S. in Psychology. Gary began using the bicycle for commuting as a 19 year old. What he was spending on gasoline over the summer could be converted into a Biology text book by substituting the bicycle for gas.
Gary’s first motivation for riding bikes was simply economic. Later, it was for health and fitness. Then because of environmental concerns. Each of these motivations remain important to Gary. Gary says that “is more enjoyable to be on the bike than being a part of traffic.”
Gary has been all over the bicycle industry: bike mechanic, briefly bicycle shop owner with partner, bicycle advocacy in non-profits, bicycle education – safety and maintenance.
Gary and his wife rode from Denver to New England on a self-supported bicycle trip for their honeymoon. They made our own panniers and tent from one of our sleeping bags. They bought food daily and prepared our evening meal over a small back-packing stove. They finished our trip on Prince Edward Island before meeting friends for the long drive back to Colorado and the return to work and reality. The Hartys’ friends and relatives still talk about the Colorado couple who rode 2,400 miles across the country for a honeymoon.
Gary and his wife have discovered the joy of visiting other cities to see the bicycle infrastructure, the architecture, and the museums. Gary is planning trips to Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Utrecht on our bucket list.
In his younger days, Gary was fascinated with bicycle racing. He raced a time trial at CSU as an amateur racer around the CSU Oval. One his favorite rides was a 40 mile team ride around the Hughes Stadium, up to Horestooth Reservoir and the back roads to Loveland before returning to Ft. Collins. He recalls riding his Schwinn Continental, with quick release wheels, dual brake levers, and 38 pounds of steel, I found myself in the lead group of six riders on their fancy light-weight French made bicycles. Gary’s cycling clubs promoted some pretty big races including the original Golden Coors Stage Race, the Rocky Mountain News Classic, and the Littleton Twilight Criterium.
Gary founded the Lakewood Bicycle Advisory Team (LBAT) in 2016 because he was not happy with the lack of bicycle friendly facilities in Lakewood. Improved bike facilities is the goal of LBAT despite many our the Commissioners who prefer private automobiles. One of the most successful projects of LBAT was bringing Cycling Without Age from Copenhagen to Lakewood.
The Hartys operate an active chapter where volunteers take seniors from their affordable senior living communities for rides in specially designed 3-wheel rickshaws (popularly referred to as trishaws) for rides to enjoy nature, feel the sunshine and the wind, and reconnect with the community at large. This is an extremely rewarding activity and we have met some fantastic people, both residents and volunteers who have participated.
Currently, Gary enjoys riding dirt or riding quiet side streets in Denver. I recently become involved with the BIKE STREETS Project, the brain child of a brilliant entrepreneur named Avi Stopper. We have developed a network a low-stress streets that allow bicycle transportation to most places within the City of Denver and beyond. The first map has recently been printed and is available at the Bike Law Colorado Office free of charge. The Hartys have fallen in love with riding BIKE STREETS.
The world needs more Gary Hartys, but we are happy that we have one in Colorado.