#StreetFail: The 15th Street Protected Bike Lane-Slash-Construction Site

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Parked construction vehicles block both the regular 15th Street bike lane (right) and its temporary replacement (left) between California and Stout. Photo: David Sachs

When construction projects jut into bike lanes, the city needs to keep those lanes functioning safely. But that isn’t happening on the 15th Street “protected” bike lane between California and Stout, above.

This construction site takes up the whole block. Denver Public Works attempted to keep the bike lane intact by temporarily repurposing a traffic lane. Problem is, the temporary bike lane is also used as a construction staging zone. The design solution doesn’t create a hard barrier between the construction zone and the bike lane, and it looks like no one has told the crew where they’re supposed to put their vehicles.

Bike lane detours around construction sites can be done well — this isn’t rocket science. Below is an example of a protected bike lane that’s been shifted over to make way for construction in Brooklyn:

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The Kent Avenue protected bike lane in Brooklyn. Image: Streetfilms

Note that the staging area, to the left, is sealed off with a sturdy wall. The walkway and bike lane have both been shifted over. The bikeway is nicely set off from the walkway with plastic posts, and there are concrete Jersey barriers between cyclists and motorized traffic. These aren’t just suggestions, they’re design solutions that impose order on the street.

  • Russell

    I’m a huge supporter of streetsblog but I have trouble getting behind these “Shame on Public Works!” pieces, and I worry that it might do more harm than good in trying to build a broad-based community that supports biking in Denver.

    My take on this situation is that public works has clearly tried to consider the impact that this construction site will have on the bike lane, and they spent the time and money to repurpose the lane it and keep it open, rather than just eliminating it on the block. I’m grateful for their efforts and I don’t expect them to police the parking situation all day long—that’s not their job.

    The truth is, it’s not that hard to maneuver around an obstacle in the bike lane. As a previous post on this site points out, 15th street has very little traffic during much of the day anyway, so it’s really no big deal to go around these vehicles. Cars maneuver around UPS trucks and double-parked cars in their lanes all the time, so I don’t think we cyclists should feign so much indignity when someone is trying to do us a favor. Instead, let’s cut the city, and the hard-working construction workers a break before our small community of cycling advocates gets even smaller.

    • Tattler

      Yeah, why bother pointing out that DPW’s solution, well-intentioned as it may be, could use some improvement. It’s not like continuous bike lanes matter at all. Plus their feelings might get hurt if you show another city doing it better. Much preferable to say nothing… that’s how you win people over.

    • HumanInDenver

      Unclear what the PW considerations are that you speak of? The painted sharrow?

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