Eyes on the Street: The 14th Street Bike Lane Is Immediately Denver’s Best

The protected bikeway feels more comfortable than other on-street bikeways — but there are a few chinks in its armor.

Photo: David Sachs
Photo: David Sachs

The network of protected bike lanes on downtown Denver’s streets just got a little more connected with the completion of the 14th Street bikeway, which officially opened Friday.

The redesign extends from Market Street south to Colfax Avenue and feels safer than any on-street bikeway in the city. It’s no secret why: Sturdy concrete curbs and parked cars protect people on bikes from vehicle traffic for most of its .8-mile length.

Unlike the dilapidated plastic posts on the 15th Street bike lane, this bikeway’s curbs make for a comfortable ride on a popular route. Riders can use 14th Street to connect to two protected bike lanes, five painted bike lanes, four B-Cycle stations, and the Convention Center light rail station. The Cherry Creek Trail is a quick and easy pedal away.

DSC_0542
Photo: David Sachs

The curbs also stop drivers from squatting in the bike lane — formerly a constant problem on a street lined with busy destinations including the University of Colorado Denver, the Denver Performing Arts Center, the Colorado Convention Center, and several hotels — but only where they exist.

Drivers are sure to abuse the lane on the few segments where curbs don’t physically stop them from entering it. A segment in front of the performing arts center, for instance, lacks the physical barriers.

Denver Public Works project manager Brittany Price told Streetsblog that this occurs where there are left turn lanes for cars. Those lanes don’t leave sufficient street width for a curb-protected bike lane that can accommodate plows and street cleaners.

At least a lot of signs line the bikeway telling drivers that the space is reserved for people on bikes, which is a nice touch, and one we haven’t seen before to this extent.

Photo: David Sachs
Photo: David Sachs

Unfortunately, the physical protection ends just before Colfax, where the lane becomes buffered from traffic with pavement markings.

Even with the drawbacks, the 14th Street bikeway works well. Given its clear advantages over other city bike lanes, this should become the go-to protected bike lane treatment for Mayor Michael Hancock’s street department.

A portion of the bike lane protected by a row of parking spaces, but no curbs. Photo: David Sachs
A portion of the bike lane protected by a row of parking spaces, but no curbs. Photo: David Sachs
Painted crosswalks cue drivers to watch for people on bikes when turning. Photo: David Sachs
Painted crosswalks cue drivers to watch for people on bikes when turning. Photo: David Sachs
Turn boxes mark highly visible places for bicyclists to connect to and from 14th Street at signals. Photo: David Sachs
Turn boxes mark highly visible places for bicyclists to connect to and from 14th Street at signals. Photo: David Sachs
  • TakeFive

    Very nice photo-work. I’ve wondered how you find the time… but credit where it’s due.

    It’s so amazing how that street has changed over the decades. The 14th Street makeover was one of my most favorite projects: http://denverurbanism.com/2011/08/downtown-denvers-14th-street-initiative-project-update-2.html A big dose of credit goes to the support and approval from the BID that was created

    Bike on!

  • John Riecke

    You know, snow plows don’t ride on fixed-guidance rails. If the lane is too narrow they’re totally capable of skootching to the left. Once again the safety of cyclists is sacrificed to the convenience of drivers.

    • EMB

      I read that sentence as saying that plows and sweepers couldn’t fit in the bike lane at its current width if it had a curb. Which of course means we should plan for wider bike lanes so that they can be both protected and properly maintained.

  • iBikeCommute

    Here’s something I’ve never seen before- a ups truck making a delivery and not double parking in the bike lane 🙂
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3e17ea3c9e858f590f8c487856d39f3d4c3dbfde029ed14faea1e93d2f1f24a8.jpg

  • Chris

    This is on my daily route to work and I’ve been loving the upgrade. It just feels safe making biking to work more relaxing and less stressful. I’ve also noticed far more people biking already.

  • Carrie Makarewicz

    I’m one of the people in the photo and although I love the lane the new late, the reason why I was making such a disgusted face was the terrible air quality. It was terribly hot, smoggy, and windy that day. The physical activity is good for my health, but breathing in all the car fumes is not. I wish more people would hop on their bikes or transit. I know many people have limitations but just as many could probably switch modes, even a few days a week

  • Brian Schroder

    It’s certainly a welcome improvement. Now if only the Lawrence St bike lane could be improved.

  • Von Gracie

    “The redesign extends from Market Street north to Colfax Avenue” ???

    • Camera_Shy

      Right. It should read, “The redesign extends from Market Street south east to Colfax Avenue”

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