#StreetFail: People Are Parking All Over the 14th Ave Bike Lane

Perhaps this person parked in the bike lane because the sign actually says it's allowed. Photo: David Sachs
Perhaps this person parked in the bike lane because the sign actually says it's allowed. Photo: David Sachs

The city’s newest “protected” bike lane does not always protect people on bikes.

Denver Public Works installed the West 14th Avenue bike lane, which is supposed to separate bicyclists from motor vehicle traffic with a row of parked cars, last month. It’s an improvement over the striped, unprotected bike lane it replaced, but too often the new bike lane is obstructed by drivers who either don’t know what they’re supposed to do, or just don’t care.

You can probably chalk up some of the dysfunction to the typical learning curve for a new street design, but the city can also take some basic steps to improve this bike lane.

The city’s other parking-protected bike lanes — on Arapahoe Street, Lawrence Street, and South Broadway — feature plastic posts, or bollards, that delineate the parking lane from the bike lane. On most of the 14th Avenue lane, DPW opted for a tan-and-white painted buffer instead, to save money.

Sometimes drivers seem to have no idea that they are parking in a bike lane:

Other times drivers encroach on the lane because they’re sloppy and lazy, and nothing is physically stopping them from doing so:

DSC_0703
Photo: David Sachs
DSC_0712
Photo: David Sachs

“The project team is distributing flyers to businesses and stakeholders in the area, which shows the correct way to park,” a DPW spokesperson told Streetsblog in an email.

The DPW design called for bollards at intersections for extra protection, and on the curvy section of 14th along Civic Center Park. But the posts are missing at some intersections, and along the curve. It’s “a work in progress,” the spokesperson said, and more will be added “in the coming weeks.”

The design called for bollards at this intersection, but they're are none. Photo: David Sachs
The design called for bollards at this intersection, but they’re are none. Photo: David Sachs

Signage is also a problem along the 14th Avenue curve, which feels like the most exposed portion of this bike lane. Underneath the “bike lane” sign is another sign that indicates drivers can occupy the lane for “loading” purposes (see photo at the top of the post).

DPW knows that physical barriers make a difference — it’s installing a foot-tall curb to protect the 14th Street bike lane later this year. There are other ways to keep cars out, like heavy planters, for instance.

The results so far on 14th Avenue suggest Denver needs at least some type of physical deterrence to keep its protected bike lanes clear. Whatever works without slowing down the pace of bike lane construction, DPW should try.

  • John Riecke

    They can’t claim it’s a protected lane if it’s also for car loading, that’s nonsensical.

    • CeeTee55

      They want it both ways, clearly. They want to be able to see “protected bike lane!” without infuriating drivers who are used to using it for loading and unloading.

      • deadindenver

        Yep, for Mayor Hancocks smoke & mirrors PR department which is busy patting themselves on the back for this supposed “protected bike lane”

  • acerttr250

    The level of intelligence is impressive.

  • Ben Schumacher

    Just paint to save money? Don’t they know they can just glue plungers to the street?

  • Bill Coleman

    So, what is the correct way to park? Hug the curb? Or ?

    • EMB

      To the left of the tan and white paint. Check out the first link in the post for more info and pictures.

  • Camera_Shy

    IMO it can’t be a loading zone. For if enough cars parked where they are supposed to, a car would have to drive in the bike lane between the parked cars and the curb, in sort of a tunnel of space, to get to the spot where they want to load… The “loading only” sign implies to me that I can stop in one of the parking spots for loading and not have to pay (as long as I am loading).

  • Gary Harty

    🙁 Maddening.

  • Kati Woock

    The signage is miserable, but outside of the museum you are supposed to load to the left of the tan buffer, just in front of the parked cars. That lane has bollards blocking you from driving through the light at 14th and Acoma Plaza. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3a66384a76a90fea4475dd81984e063da618a72820b89a3f1495d52a946b5ad6.jpg

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