West 23rd Ave Should Be Getting a Bike Lane Extension Across Federal — Unless Parking

A bicyclist crosses Federal on West 23rd Avenue, an intersection where some white stripes would make a big difference. Photo: David Sachs
A bicyclist crosses Federal on West 23rd Avenue, an intersection where some white stripes would make a big difference. Photo: David Sachs

Denver Public Works wants to stripe a bike lane on West 23rd Avenue where it intersects one of the city’s deadliest streets, Federal Boulevard. But when it comes to protecting humans riding bikes in Denver, there’s always the risk that car storage — or the fear of any space being dedicated to bikes at all— will take precedence.

West 23rd is one of the most traveled bike corridors in the city, and it already has a bike lane. But it has gaps — it ends a half-block before reaching Federal on the west side. On the east side, there’s a three-block gap between Federal and Clay Street. As a result, the intersection is a free-for-all. People have reported four crashes between cars and bikes in the last five years, most due to a driver taking a left into a bicyclist, according to DPW.

This block-and-a-half fix is a “small but mighty project,” said Rachael Bronson, senior city planner with DPW Transportation & Mobility. Here’s the plan: extend the broken bike lane all the way to the intersection, and paint an entirely new bike lane on the east side of the intersection, between Federal and Eliot Street.

Image: DPW
Image: DPW

DPW staffers presented the plan to the Jefferson Park United Neighbors on Tuesday.

“We see that when we have bicycle lanes through an intersection instead of having this shared lane condition, it improves safety due to the fact that cars know where the bike’s gonna go, and bikes know where the vehicles are supposed to go,” said Transportation Project Manager Brittany Price. “Through that division of space, it helps everyone feel more comfortable — both vehicles and bicyclists.”

Several neighbors voiced support the redesign, which will reclaim four to five parking spots in order to protect people crossing Federal by bike. Some called for the city to “make up for” those parking spaces elsewhere. Another resident claimed that, “Since they’ve put the bike lane out, it’s become a real hazard with the westbound lane.”

All the more reason to extend the bike lane and delineate space between people driving and people biking.

“Unfortunately, it’s difficult,” Price said. “Driver behavior isn’t great always.”

The project is not a done deal. It’s still just a plan and we’ve seen plans get watered down before. Let’s hope this redesign, which would benefit countless people, isn’t snuffed out by the complaints of a few.

  • surly trucker

    I’m pretty sure that 23rd only has a sharrow between Clay and Federal – It’d be great if DPW would make the bike lane continuous – it would be a huge improvement for this important East/West connector.

    • David Sachs

      That’s definitely the case.

  • iBikeCommute

    This looks similar to the intersection at 11th ave and lincoln where the bike lane becomes a sharrow to allow for a left turn lane. I ride this route daily to work and have nearly been killed several times by drivers making a left turn in front of me. The solution here would be to not allow left turns at this intersection which create such a dangerous situation. Of course that would slightly inconvenience drivers who would have to drive one additional block north or south to make the turn.

  • Brian Schroder

    This is one area that as a cyclist I avoid due to the fact the bike lane ends at Clay St west bound. Cars shouldn’t be allowed to park on 23rd at Jefferson Park it’s too narrow even for two way vehicle traffic let alone making space for “sharing the road”.

    • surly trucker

      Totally agree. ‘Taking the Lane’ is the only ‘safe’ option, but is still terrible (especially for Westbound riders due to the hill up to Federal).

  • deadindenver

    Another improvement would be a bike only green signal, perhaps giving bikes a 3-second head start across the intersection to avoid getting turned in front of by a car.

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