Bike lanes aren’t just for people on bikes

by Jessica Vargas on February 6, 2020

Last month, the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) announced the exciting news that they will be accelerating the buildout of Denver’s bike network, meaning we will finally start seeing a more usable, visible, and connected network than currently exists. This will offer Denverites safer, healthier, and less air-polluting options for getting around their community. The work will be guided by Denver’s citywide bicycle master plan known as Denver Moves. The implementation of this plan, which was originally adopted in 2011 and updated in 2016, has not had enough funding associated with it to actually create a network on our streets that can keep up with travel and safety needs – until now. 

That is why DOTI has been hosting a number of public info sessions about new bike infrastructure in neighborhoods throughout the City. Coming up next is an open house on February 12 where interested community members can come learn about a proposed bike lane on Dartmouth Ave in southeast Denver. In the Denver Moves Plan, this segment is slated for a type of treatment known as a buffered bike lane, which is similar to a conventional bike lane but with added marked space to create more distance between people on bikes and moving auto traffic. Then on February 18, there will be a public meeting about a proposed bike lane on W Jewell Ave in southwest Denver. Since both streets will be repaved this year, DOTI is taking the opportunity to stripe in the new bike lanes.  

Although you might not be able to tell by looking at it, Dartmouth is already an officially designated bike route that connects to two other designated bike routes on St. Paul and Franklin Streets. It is also the main east-west connection to the High Line Canal Trail for all the neighborhoods north of Hampden. Some sharrow markings and a few small signs are the only indication that these streets are part of Denver’s regional bicycle network. Jewell also connects to a designated bike route on Zuni and to Ruby Hill Bike Park. Bike lanes would not only create designated space for people on bikes but would also put more distance between moving traffic and the narrow sidewalks along these wide streets. The projects will also mark out narrower travel lanes that encourage slower driving speeds, especially in the school zones adjacent to Slavens and Schmitt elementary schools. DOTI is also exploring improvements that would make it safer for people walking and biking to cross the street. 

Denver streets are capable of doing so much more than just moving or storing cars. Our neighborhood streets in particular should be places where we can safely and conveniently meet our neighbors, walk to school or the park, bike to the store, and enjoy our communities. Bike lanes are an important tool that can be used to create more people-friendly streets.

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