What You Need to Know About the Upcoming Broadway Bike Lane Demo

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A scene from last year’s weekend “pop-up” bike lane on Broadway. A longer, more robust demo begins August 15. Photo: BikeDenver

If Mayor Michael Hancock decides to install a permanent, two-way protected bike lane on Broadway, it would be his most concrete step to follow through on promises to make Denver a great city for bicycling.

The Broadway project isn’t a done deal yet, however. First, Public Works will install a temporary, five-block demonstration between Bayaud and Virginia avenues. The two-way demo bike lane will be next to the curb, separated from moving traffic by a parking lane. After implementation in the first half of August, the temporary bike lane will stay in place at least three months.

Here’s a look at why this project matters, and how you can help make it permanent.

Redesigning Broadway is about creating a safer street and a better neighborhood, not moving car traffic

Too many city streets are designed to maintain “level of service” for automobiles — a measure of how well a street speeds drivers to their destinations. The Broadway redesign sets different priorities. It aims to make the street safer for pedestrians and cyclists (as well as drivers, who also benefit from non-lethal traffic speeds), improve bus service, and create a better environment for the people who live and work in the area.

Average speeds tend to be above the posted limit on the corridor. Image: DPW

A study of driving speeds on the Broadway/Lincoln corridor is clear: Speeding is the rule, not the exception, increasing the risk of injury or death. We know that narrower roads induce safer speeds. Without the redesign, dangerous conditions on Broadway will persist.

It will take political will to make the Broadway redesign permanent

As Boulder’s Folsom Street bike lane debacle taught us, city officials have to be prepared for an adjustment period after a significant street redesign and can’t cave at the first sign of disgruntled motorists like the Boulder City Council did last year. Otherwise, the project will never have a chance to succeed.

It’s a good sign that the Broadway redesign has been publicly endorsed by Hancock and City Councilman Jolon Clark, who reps the South Broadway commercial district. That’s a better situation than in Boulder, where the mayor was never on board with the Folsom project. But people who support the Broadway redesign can’t assume that everything will just take care of itself. If you want the bike lane to be permanent, contact Clark and Hancock and show your support at public meetings — there are two scheduled for Thursday. You can also email the project team.

The Broadway redesign has been a long time coming

Neighborhood residents and city planners have been talking about this project for years. It is consistent with six official city plans, including the first iteration of Blueprint Denver, which City Council passed in 2002. Last year Public Works held public meetings and met with business owners to get feedback on the redesign. The project team knocked on every single door in the Broadway/Lincoln corridor to get the word out about the redesign. And Public Works held a weekend “pop-up” bike lane last September to give locals a taste of what’s to come.

High-profile projects like this can’t avoid potshots from the local press and from drivers speeding to and from the suburbs. The best way to counter the inevitable crankiness is to stay positive, ride the bike lanes, tell your elected officials that you support the project, and be vocal at upcoming public meetings.