Denver Public Works’ 15th Street Bike Lane Isn’t Protected Anymore

When the 15th Street bike lane debuted, it was the jewel of Denver’s bike network, but since then, the paint has faded, a lot of protective posts have been broken off, and it doesn’t feel nearly as protected as a protected bike lane should.

It’s never been perfect, but now the 15th Street bike lane is downright nerve-wracking. I shot this video during Wednesday afternoon rush hour (most of it has been sped up to save you some time).

This is not how a protected bike lane is supposed to function. Thin plastic posts are the only thing separating people on bikes from car traffic — where they still exist. Detours around construction zones are poorly implemented, failing to provide any continuity or predictability for bike riders and drivers. Delivery trucks park in the bike-only lane with regularity, forcing riders into traffic.

Good protected bike lanes make people feel more at ease getting around on two wheels. When they work well, casual riders become bike commuters, families with children can bike on downtown streets, and tourists who don’t know the city well can hop on a B-Cycle.

Later this year Denver Public Works is planning to test stronger, more visible barriers, like planters, to better protect people on bikes. Hallelujah.

Here’s a look at how Washington, DC, creates good protection even when there’s not a lot of space between the bike lane and motor vehicle traffic:

And yes, it is possible to maintain the continuity of a protected bike lane next to a construction site. Take a look at the concrete barriers that separate some sections of this protected bike lane in Brooklyn — those are temporary measures while nearby construction occupies the sidewalk.