When Streets Aren’t Designed for Safe Biking, People on Bikes Get Hurt

The driveway and section of Colorado Boulevard where the bike rider was killed. Image: Google Maps
The driveway and section of Colorado Boulevard where the unidentified bike rider was killed. Image: Google Maps

The man killed on his bike yesterday evening near the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Colfax Avenue was riding on the wrong side of the street when a driver hit him, according to early reports from the Denver Police Department.

“The preliminary investigation indicates that it appears the biker was riding southbound on a northbound lane on Colorado,” said DPD spokesman Sonny Jackson.

A driver exiting a gas station hit the cyclist and stayed at the scene, Jackson said.

It’s not clear why the man chose to ride his bike against traffic, but both Colfax and Colorado are designed without any dedicated space for biking. Maybe he was scared to bike with traffic behind him on such a fast street without protection, or maybe he was heading toward the median during an apparent break in traffic, because bike riders aren’t allowed on the sidewalk. We don’t know because he can’t tell his story.

But there is no doubt that people on bikes are more likely to observe traffic rules when the street accommodates them with safe space to travel. Redesigning streets to calm speeding traffic, with good walking and biking infrastructure, makes them safer for everyone. If the victim had a safe, efficient way to get where he was going, would this crash have happened?

The medical examiner hasn’t released the victim’s name and an autopsy report will probably take several weeks, according to the coroner’s office.