Business Center

Commuter Highlight: Biking to Work with Ken Brubaker

By: Sydney Lund, Transportation Demand Management Intern

August 15, 2019

Here at the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), we are working to enhance the quality of life and the environment of the citizens of Colorado by creating an integrated transportation system that focuses on safely moving people and goods by offering convenient linkages among modal choices. Many CDOT employees are serving as role models for their commitment to commuting to work by walking, biking, taking transit, or carpooling.

Here Ken is seen with his bike in the bike parking room of CDOT’s Headquarters in Denver.

This week’s commuter highlight is Ken Brubaker!

Ken Brubaker is a Bicycle and Pedestrian Engineer working within the Division of Transportation Development at the CDOT HQ/R1 building. Ken commutes to work by bike between two and three days a week. Read below for an interview with Ken, where he shares some pro-tips on biking to work.

How do you commute to work?

It's a combination really. I ride to work about two to three times a week. Other days I’ll drive or take the light rail. I don’t have a set method necessarily. I have a nine month old at home, so sometimes if I have to pick him up from daycare, I’ll drive because it’s faster.

Why do you commute to work by different modes of transportation?

I like to commute by bike for a couple reasons. One is just to get a little bit of exercise. Biking is a good way to just fit a workout into your regular day. It's also nicer to bike than to sit in traffic on I-25. I’ll sit in traffic for 45 minutes or it can take me 45 minute to ride home, so I would rather ride my bike. I like to take the light rail, but it is not as fast, especially because I have to switch trains.

How long does your bike commute usually take you?

I live about 11 miles from CDOT by bike. It is a little bit shorter distance by driving just because I can take a more direct route. It usually takes me 40 to 45 minutes to ride my bike to work. In the morning, if I were driving, it would be about 20 minutes, just because the traffic is better in the morning. But in the afternoon, my commute home can be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour by car. In the morning it is always faster to drive. But in the afternoon, it can actually be faster to bike home sometimes.

What is your motivation for biking to work?

My main motive is to try and work in a little bit of exercise. Also, sometimes biking is just faster and it is more pleasant to ride a bike home after work than it is to sit in traffic on I-25.

How does snow and rain impact your commute?

When it is snowing, my preference is to take the light rail. I drove once last year when it snowed and it took about two and a half hours to get home from work because I-25 was essentially a parking lot. After that I decided to just take the light rail when it snows, since it is terrible to drive in the snow here.

What tips do you have to other CDOT employees about biking to work or taking the light rail to work?

For biking, my tips would be to leave as many things that you need at the office as you can. I actually have a separate pair of shoes, a towel, and some other things that I just leave here in my cube. That way I do not have to bring all of my stuff with me when I bike. That is nice because it lightens the load. The less you can carry when you're riding a bike, the better.

My other tip would be to find a route that is comfortable for you to ride. The best way I've found to search for routes is through Google Maps. My bike ride is about a mile or two longer than it would need to be. However, I prefer riding through the Cherry Creek Trail than trying to go down Colfax. Finding the best route is important, especially if you have never ridden before. Just because it's a route you drive doesn't mean it's a good route to ride a bike. Sometimes the most direct route is not the best route when you're riding a bike.

What are some obstacles that you face while biking and how have you overcome those obstacles?

The biggest obstacles from a biking perspective are the routes and finding a good route that is comfortable to ride on. On certain streets, there are no bike lanes or the street has a tiny sidewalk. That is not a place you really want to ride. The second obstacle would be time, because sometimes biking can take longer than driving, especially in the morning.

On the weekends, how do you get around?

We use the light rail sometimes on the weekends. If we're going downtown I will definitely take the light rail just for convenience. It is a lot easier to take the light rail than to drive and park, especially if there is an event going on in downtown. Denver's grown a lot, so it is just getting harder and harder to go downtown and park places. With all of the infill that has happened, it is probably better to find a different way to get downtown than to drive down there.

If you could be any form of non-single occupancy mode of transportation, which would you be?

I think I would be an E-bike because it is all the fun and ease you have with biking without all of the work. You can just cruise and still do all of the same things you can do on a regular bike.

Interested in commuting to work by bike? Check out these resources designed to help you commute by bike to work.

Check out our past commuter highlight interviews here.

I try and bike everywhere in Denver, especially downtown or to friends who live not too far away. Biking generally makes my life better and I think it i more fun. I do drive, like a lot of Coloradans, to the mountains, up to Boulder, or if I am going out of town.

Do you commute to work by means other than driving alone? If so, we would like to highlight you! Send an email to Sydney Lund to be highlighted as a part of our commuter highlights series.