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Denver Bicylists Frustrated with Bike Lanes System

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BikeDenver map

BikeDenver map

After The Washington Post wrote about how difficult it is for bicyclists to navigate United States cities using only bike lanes, BikeDenver issued a map showing the difficulties of commuting by bike in Denver, as David Sachs writes for StreetsBlog Denver. The problem is that “sporadic, fragmented infrastructure” in Denver results in calm bike lanes leading into “chaotic streets,” Sachs writes.

Sachs quotes Emily Badger on the difficulties of commuting by bike in Denver:

Bike commuting throughout the city is often like this: cobbled together out of a bit of bike lane here, an unprotected shoulder there, a scrap of sharrow and some silent pleas that cars won’t run you over. Bike lanes occasionally appear and vanish multiple times on the same street. Sometimes they last just a few hundred feet. It feels as if someone striped the city with dozens of quarter-mile commutes in mind.

What would really help Denver bicyclists is just one north-south connection along the city’s Broadway corridor, Sachs writes. He goes on to say that Denver’s best section for bicyclists is the 15th Street protected bike lane, but even that “ends abruptly and strands you in a left-turn lane next to fast-moving traffic.” And then there are what Sachs calls “bike lane deserts” east of Colorado boulevard, and also in Denver’s northeast and southwest sections. A spotty grid like this for cars would never be allowed to exist without connecting all of the sections for a smooth flow, Sachs writes.

On BikeDenver’s Facebook page, the group asks people what they make of the Denver bike lanes map. In response, Rebecca Born asks “Why are north/south lanes hard to get? Policy? Infrastructure?”

In response to Born’s question, John Riecke writes: “Just talked with public works about this this afternoon. There aren’t a lot of great, wide north-south streets in Denver.”

Nicole Casewit writes: “This such a fragmented-disconnected system. Bike paths mostly to nowhere. Don’t get hit, friends.”

Although Sachs writes that Denver created the existing bike lanes to “placate bike activists” or to boost the city onto some top 10 list, he notes that there has been some progress. For example, neither the Denver Department of Public Works (DPW) nor BikeDenver’s map include sharrows as a legitimate bike facility, Sachs writes. DPW shows a list of bicycle infrastructure projects since 2009, showing 18 upgrades posted for 2015 alone.

Speaking of commuting to work, Associated Press writes that driving to work in the Denver metro area takes longer than the average commute in U.S. cities. In the article, appearing on CBS Denver, AP writes that whereas the average commute time for solo drivers in U.S. cities is 25.8 minutes, it takes people driving alone to jobs in Denver, Aurora, and Lakewood 26 minutes to get to work, AP writes.

The study looked at regions in the U.S. with at least 100,000 residents, and did not include people who walk or bike to work, AP writes. The data is based on 2013 census information. AP writes. The study found that the longest commute time for people driving alone is 32 minutes, in the District of Columbia, AP writes.

Although Denver does not lag that far behind the average U.S. commute time for solo drivers, that time will only increase if transportation funding does not keep pace with population growth, AP writes. For example, although in 2010, the population of Denver, Aurora, and Lakewood comprised 2.5 million people, it is now 2.7 million, and is expected to increase by 200,000 by 2020, AP writes.


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