Eyes on the Street: 11th Avenue Bike Lane and Road Diet

11th and washington
11th Avenue before adding bike lanes (bottom), and after (top). Photo: David Sachs

People on bikes who jockey for position with buses and car traffic on 12th Avenue now have a better option: 11th Avenue. The Department of Public Works has pretty much finished adding bike lanes in each direction while trimming the street from three motor vehicle lanes to two between Ogden Street and Osage Street — a 1.6-mile stretch.

I’ve ridden the bike lanes twice in each direction, and it’s quicker and less congested than 12th, which is technically a bike route, but only boasts a few sharrows here and there. Eleventh Avenue felt safer because of the dedicated lanes and lack of buses, and makes for a good route to and from the Cherry Creek Trail because of a green-paint bike lane, a bike box, and soon-to-come signage at the intersection with Speer.

The redesign isn’t perfect. Most driving lanes are still 11 feet wide — an unnecessary width according to NACTO’s urban street guidelines — leaving just five feet for each bike lane. Plus sharrows replace the bike lanes on a few blocks west of Speer, and it’s unclear why planners didn’t paint bike lanes all the way to Cheeseman Park.

Still, making 11th less car-oriented and friendlier for biking is a huge improvement. Here are some shots from Denver’s newest bike facility:

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The street’s only curve occurs at Grant Street, where the bike lane becomes dashed. Photo: David Sachs
Looking west from 11th and Speer. The eastbound side of the street still has two car lanes, with sharrows instead of a bike lane leading up to the intersection with Speer. Photo: David Sachs
People biking down 12th to connect with the Cherry Creek Trail are thrown into Speer Street traffic — and that’s still a problem. But crews installed a green and white bike lane at the intersection of 11th and Speer, with signage to come directing bike riders to the trail. Photo: David Sachs
Looking west from the bridge over the Cherry Creek trail, crews painted a bike box to give people on bikes a head start. Photo: David Sachs
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But the intersection is another story heading eastbound on 11th, with sharrows instead of a bike lane. Photo: David Sachs
One section of 11th between Cherokee and Bannock now has back-in angle parking. Photo: David Sachs

FYI: The section of 11th between Osage and Mariposa won’t get a bike lane until next year, after utility work associated with a new housing project is finished.

So what do you think about the 11th Avenue bike lanes? Complaints? Praise? Let Streetsblog know.

  • Allan Babcock

    I’m really excited to see this on 11th. 12th was not a very good road for biking compared to 11th. The bike boxes around Speer will make that intersection much more comfortable as well. I will have to go ride this soon to check it out.

  • Daniel

    HOORAY! I own a condo at 11th and Washington, really glad to have this new amenity that makes my neighborhood a better place and by encouraging biking helps alleviate the tight parking situation here in Cap Hill.

  • Anthony

    One minor nitpick: I use the term “general purpose lanes” rather than “motor vehicle lanes” because people in bikes may legally use the general purpose lane is nearly every instance.

    The new lanes haven’t changed where I ride on the road; the rightmost three feet are in the dooming zone. That being said, drivers seem to have a new expectation of where people may be and if they reduce the conflict or the thoughts of “get out of my lane” they’re a net improvement.

    The biggest benefit is EB since that’s uphill, especially east of Cherokee and east of Lincoln, it’s nice to not have people in cars zoom up behind me and my wife going uphill only to get frustrated by our 8-10 mph pace and pass us aggressively.

    The new approach WB to Speer threw me off a little the first time I rode it and with the turning movements occurring I was a little more vulnerable than I typically am through that intersection, but I attribute that to the newness. Now that I know the alignment it should be overall much safer.

    Overall a net positive addition to Cap Hill and Golden Triangle, eventually into Lincoln Park and giving more people light rail access!

  • mckillio

    I’ve been riding to the 10th & Osage light rail station every day for work for over three years and I’m so glad to have these lanes in. They’re not perfect, the lanes foes away for half a block between Logan and Grant, the intersection just before, during and after Speer is a little confusing though it’s supposed to be getting redone in the future.

    My biggest gripe is at EB Broadway, the lane is a solid line but cars still cross over to create their own turning lane. I’d like to see DPW remove two to three of the parking spots and create a dedicated turn lane make the bike lane dashed there. If not then let’s make it dashed so I don’t get as upset at the drivers.

    • Bruceov

      I’d like to get rid of the bike lanes and create 4 or 5 more parking spots. The bikes do not obey traffic laws. They do not stop at the lights and they choose to cross in front of cars after the light changes.

      • mckillio

        I’m sure you would. I do actually like street parking as it slows down traffic and protects pedestrians and makes them feel safer. Cars don’t obey traffic laws either but the difference is they are far more dangerous when they don’t.

  • Kati Woock

    I was excited for this new lane, but I’m pretty disappointed with it so far. It’s nice to have the visible separation from cars, but the westbound traffic lights are poorly timed compared to 12th Ave and on a snowy day last week I discovered that the eastbound bike lane is completely full of ice (it’s in the shade and doesn’t have cars warming it up all day). This required me to merge into car traffic several times. The abrupt “bike lane ends” sign just after Logan (westbound) might give the wrong message to people in cars who need to watch out even more closely for bikes around that corner. I think I might use 11th when riding night for the added space and visible separation, but other than that I’ll be sticking to 12th, despite the buses and sharrows. There seem to still be more people on bikes using 12th than 11th, at least during rush hour, but maybe not everyone realizes it’s (almost) finished.

  • Regonald VonHoobiedoobie

    The bike lanes on 11th are a big improvement and the first of the recent bike projects that affect my daily commute.

    I would like the city would work on keeping the bike lanes free of ice in the winter and up the penalty for delivery trucks parking in the bike lane.

  • Mom

    I’m all for bike lanes however, adding them (and removing all parking)to the blocks around Santa Fe & Kalamath have created a HUGE parking problem for Colorado Ballet (there are hundreds of academy students), businesses on 11th, the new pre-school and the church located there. I need to park in this area 3-5 times a week and never use to have a problem parking. Now I have problems every time. One business on 11th now has zero parking spaces for customers.

    • mckillio

      “A HUGE problem”? CO Ballett has its own parking lot, not to mention the tons of street parking along Santa Fe, Kalamath, and other streets in the neighborhood.

      • Mom

        Yes it is a problem. The parking lot is reserved for the company dancers only. Much of the surrounding parking is 1 hour, which is not a long enough time limit. (1 1/2 hour limit would work.) There is two hour parking, which is long enough- there just aren’t that many 2 hour spaces for all of the businesses in the area to use. The ballet is not the only place that is experiencing parking problems.

  • Icyclegirl303

    It’s great to see an east-west connection in this part of town connecting neighborhoods separated by Speer. It would be great if the talented planners/engineers at the City could figure out how to maintain a bike lane going eastbound through Speer OR designate the sidewalk as a multi-use path in the section where sharrows were painted. I test bikeability by asking “would I bike with my toddler in tow”? Unfortunately, the answer is ‘no’ because of the sharrows.

  • Walter Crunch

    Yay for more door zone/hunger games bike lanes! This way if a car veers towards you, one is sure a swift death. I mean, why not put the lanes on the other side and let the parked cars slow the traffic and protect the riders? Again, I won’t pedal my family in that “bike lane”

  • Bruceov

    They are always taking our parking away on 11th. These bike lanes mean more broken mirrors.

    • Anthony

      I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that you’re not trolling, so can you please explain? There is on-street parking still literally the entire length of 11th on both sides of the street. This is at the expense of maintaining bike lanes when approaching Lincoln WB and both directions east of Santa Fe. Best I can tell no sacred on-street parking spaces were harmed in the creation of this bike lane.
      People on bikes don’t break off car mirrors either (I don’t have any experience in this regard but I’d imagine doing so would be terribly painful and as such it is in the best interest of a person on bike to avoid hitting a car mirror), so creating extra space between moving automobiles which DO take off car mirrors and those parked cars seems to solve that problem too.
      I’d love to be educated on what I’m missing.

      • mckillio

        Parking was removed on the south side in front of the high school. I was crossing the street once and a car hit the back of my elbow and the mirror snapped right off, didn’t hurt a bit. Having said that, it would definitely hurt if you tried to break it off your self and I don’t know why anyone or group of people would do that, and you would likely crash anyways, especially if it didn’t break off. Having said that, it’s other cars that are the main culprits in mirrors getting broken off.

      • Bruceov

        Here is the problem. They have taken away all the parking for miles on 11th for three days. They could have done the work they wanted to do on Monday instead they did absolutely nothing and the no parking tow away zones signs have remained up for miles and miles. Do you know what it is like to park in this neighborhood? We are not rich upper middle class people who afford expensive bikes, we need our broken down cars to get to our low wage jobs. I hate bicyclists.

        • mckillio

          The no parking is for 5am-5pm and do we even know for sure that it’s for the existing bike lanes? I hope so since they’ve been worn away to nothing in about six months. I do know what it’s like to park in this neighborhood, that’s a big reason I sold my car and got an “expensive” $200 bike. I’m not sure why you hate bicyclists because DPW isn’t good at timing their parking closures and doing work in a timely manner or using the property stripping in the first place.

        • Anthony

          I’m with mckillio. I’ve had to park on the street in Cap Hill near 10th and Sherman and now near 11th and Lafayette. It’s obnoxious so I no longer have to park on the street and ride my “expensive” $350 bike. Which costs muuuuuuch less than a broken down car. And because I no longer have to park on the street it’s freed up a space for you. Not sure what your problem is.

          • Bruceov

            They are still blocking all our parking. Four days now for the damn bikes. People are getting really angry on this block.

          • Anthony

            Dude, construction blocks bike lanes and car lanes alike constantly. Get over yourself.

          • Bruceov

            It is the right way for everyone not just bikes who by the way violate every traffic law in the books creating a dangerous situation for themselves.

          • mckillio

            Welcome to how bikers have been feeling for decades except we have been fighting for our safety and not merely convenience.

          • mckillio

            You’re right, being able to leave your car empty and useless is more important than properly striped bike lanes so that bikers can be safe.

          • Bruceov

            Five days ff blocked parking. F**k you and your damn bikes

          • mckillio

            That’s factually false. Why are you getting aggressive with me? Flagged, there’s no room for that kind of behavior on here.

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