Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) will be building out 125 miles of new bike lanes across the city. Northwest Denver may see a new protected bike lane on Lowell Blvd. near Regis; new or expanded bike lanes on Tejon, Byron, 23rd Ave, 46th Ave, 50th Ave; and neighborhood bikeways on Perry, Clay, Dunkeld, Julian, and 41st Ave.
“We are really focused on implementing these multimodal networks that get people where they want to go in a safe and efficient way… and making sure we have a complete network citywide,” said Jenn Hillhouse, Director of Transportation Planning for DOTI.
The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment identified car and truck transportation emissions as the second largest contributor to climate change behind buildings. That prompted the city to set a goal to enable 7.5% of Denver trips to be by bike by 2030. The city is about halfway to that goal. “There is such a strong nexus between climate and transportation planning,” said Hillhouse. “We can not achieve our climate goals without the mobility goals behind them.” The city has found that 59% of Denverites would be more likely to bike if there were a better network of bike lanes.
In addition, the new bike infrastructure is designed to increase safety for people that bike as part of the city’s goal under the Vision Zero program which aims to have zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries from crashes by 2030. In Northwest Denver, four people on bikes have died in traffic crashes, and 22 people have been seriously injured in recent years, including David Martinez, who died after a hit and run crash at 33rd and Zuni last year while biking.
Will Stingley, a father from West Highland, was excited to hear about the new bike lane network but wished the city would take it a step further with more protected bike lanes. “Having kids and families being able to bike places and not be scared to do it is great, but having bike lanes is the very basics. Just a painted bike lane without protection is frankly not enough but it’s definitely a good start.”
Laura Aubert from Highland had concerns about the initial bike lane design that called for removing parking on Dunkeld Place which already has limited parking for Ashland Rec Center and Valdez Elementary School. “Parking is generally very challenging. All the people that live up near Clay don’t have garages and have to park on the street.” She noted that after receiving feedback, DOTI and neighbors were having productive meetings on potentially expanding the already oversized sidewalk as a multi use path in lieu of removing parking.
Business owners are also split on the proposed changes. Scott Yates, owner of Mythology Distillery on Tejon Street had yet not heard about the proposed lane in front of his business but called it good news. “We are such a great walkable community, we’d be all for a bike lane going in. I think it’d be great.”
Kim Slanovich, owner of Toast Wine and Spirits in Sloans Lake, has concerns about the extension of the 23rd Ave bike lane from Lowell to Raleigh and losing some of the parking near her business. “People tell me that is one of the few things that drive them to shop with us. They don’t have to deal with parking. As a business that is what is difficult about losing parking. That’s one of the benefits that we have is great parking around our business.”
DOTI planner Geneva Hooten notes they are always happy to talk to citizens with concerns about parking to work with them on designs, but that increasing safety means some changes. “Globally, at a broader level we have to decouple the street in front of where someone lives and the streets that we all have, making sure that we as Denverites can get around. Building a safe city has some tradeoffs. We think ultimately the price of a life is more valuable than some convenience for parking.”
To learn more or comment about the proposed bike lanes, citizens can visit bit.ly/denvermovesnetworks or call (303) 223-6575. Pedestrian network improvement details will be announced by DOTI in the fall.