No, Bike Lane Construction Hasn’t “Snarled” Traffic on Arapahoe

Public Works crews are installing much-needed parking-protected bike lanes on Arapahoe and Lawrence streets, and it hasn’t taken long for some news outlets to frame the safety measures as an undue burden for drivers.

On Monday the Denver Post reported that construction would “snarl” traffic. Today Fox31 used the same verb to describe how changing the street might annoy people in cars.

The video above was taken today at 8:40 a.m. on Arapahoe between 16th and 17th streets, where the street usually has three travel lanes. As you can see, the bike lane installation temporarily narrowed the street to two lanes.

What a snarl.

Crews will briefly narrow the street to one lane this week to lay concrete, but when the bike lane is finished, the street will have the same number of car lanes as before. Still, Fox31 compared it to the Folsom Street bike lane, which according to the anchor resulted in a “collective groan from those up in the Boulder area who are dealing with bike lanes.” (Except for the the large number of people who used the bike lanes and protested the city’s decision to reverse course.)

The act of changing a street’s character can overshadow the change itself, and how news outlets cover that change has the power to derail progress. Just two weeks in to the Folsom Street project, for example, a used car dealer blamed the bike lane for a drop in car sales — and local news outlets handed him a megaphone to do it. A few weeks later, the City Council put the kibosh on the experiment.

People who want safer streets in Denver have to be on the lookout for similar misinformation campaigns here, as street designs evolve.

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