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Parking-Protected Bike Lanes Coming to Denver

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Lawrence and Broadway, courtesy DPW

Lawrence and Broadway, courtesy DPW

Come October, new parking-protected bike lanes should be fully built on Lawrence and Arapahoe Streets, reports David Sachs for StreetsBlog Denver. The Denver Public Works Project (DPW) presented the design recently to the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, Sachs writes.

The plan consists of slightly more than one mile of infrastructure that will run from Aurora Campus to 24th Street, Sachs writes. It will provide Denver bicyclists a safe way to cross Speer Boulevard, Park Avenue, and the especially challenging Broadway, he writes. Prior to this design, the Arapahoe and Speer intersection has had no bike infrastructure, Sachs writes.

Regarding Lawrence and Arapahoe Streets, Sachs writes:

Both streets are one-way. The typical section of the Lawrence Street bikeway will be parking-protected with a bike lane that varies between five feet and seven feet wide. The buffer between parked cars and the bike lane will include posts and a 2-foot or 4-foot painted buffer, depending on the section. While the overall design for these bikeways is pretty good, two feet isn’t enough to ensure car doors don’t clothesline passing bicyclists, according to NACTO best practices, which say three feet is the minimum. That extra foot could easily be claimed from the 11-foot travel lanes.

Most sections of the Arapahoe Street bikeway will be between 6 and 7 feet wide, Sachs writes. According to Denver’s Bicycle Program (DBP), unlike the city’s first protected bike lanes along 15th Street, which are on the left side of the street, the Arapahoe and Lawrence ones will be on the right side of the street. The design team has included ways to manage right-turning vehicles and through bicycle movements, and the use of bicycle-specific traffic signals, DBP writes.

Denver City Auditor Dennis Gallagher had criticized the city for not allocating enough money for a comprehensive bike network, Sachs wrote last month for StreetsBlog Denver. Denver’s capital improvement fund, the main source of money for Denver Moves (a 2011 plan to have top-notch bike facilities within a quarter-mile of every household), only allocated $2.8 million of the $119 million such a plan would require, Sachs wrote. Because of inadequate funding, the DPW has installed inexpensive and inadequate remedies such as shadows instead of high-quality, modern infrastructure, Sachs wrote. He compared Denver’s allocations with those of Seattle, which recently pledged $35.5 million for a six-year bicycle master plan. For 2015, DPW has $47 million, of which only $400,000 went to Denver Moves.

In his recent article, Sachs writes that DPW might change the Lawrence and Arapahoe bikeways design after assessing its effectiveness over a year. The project was a challenge to design because of such obstacles as huge intersections, loading zones, and other “snags,” he writes. “Still, the arrival of Denver’s first parking-protected lanes is great to see, and the intersection treatments exemplify how creating a conduit for people on streets designed for cars is challenging, but doable,” he writes.


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