Denver Public Works Waters Down the Arapahoe Street Bike Lane

IMG_3099 (1)
Photo: David Mintzer

Earlier this month Mayor Michael Hancock cut the ribbon on the Arapahoe Street protected bike lane and promised three more next year.

What Hancock didn’t mention was that his Department of Public Works is already handing out special privileges to allow some people to park in the bike lane. He didn’t mention that one section of the bike lane is no longer protected, either.


The agency permitted Christkindl Market, a month-long holiday event at 16th and Arapahoe, to use the “first travel lane” — in this case the bike lane — for setting up and tearing down the market on November 12 and December 28 and 29. The above photo was taken on November 18. The car had a city-issued permit displayed on its dashboard, but according to that permit, it was parked illegally.

“There are great demands right now for use of the public right of way (walking, biking, driving, parking, transit,  loading/unloading, construction, events, etc.), and we must balance its use among a variety of stakeholders,” DPW spokesperson Nancy Kuhn said in a statement.

In another instance of “balance,” the bike lane on the 2200 block of Arapahoe Street is no longer protected by a lane of parked cars or plastic posts. “The changes were made based on discussions with property owners/businesses on the block,” Kuhn stated.

“Balancing” streets is often code for stripping out features that improve walking, biking, or transit in order to avoid upsetting people who want to preserve the status quo for driving and parking. If Hancock and DPW were serious about balance, they would immediately overhaul most streets in the city to put transit and active transportation on equal footing with cars. Instead, driving and parking continue to consume the vast majority of the city’s street space.