#StreetFail: The 46th Avenue “Bike Lane” Is Actually a Parking Lane

On the city's bike map, 46th Avenue has bike lanes, but it in real life, it doesn't. Photo: David Sachs
On the city's bike map, 46th Avenue has bike lanes, but it in real life, it doesn't. Photo: David Sachs

Drivers parking in bike lanes are a chronic problem in Denver. Even bike lanes that are supposed to be physically separated from traffic haven’t been designed well enough to keep parked cars out. But this “bike lane” takes the cake. It was literally designed for cars to park in.

This street design is on a mile-long stretch of 46th Avenue in Berkeley. It’s on Denver Public Works’ official map of bike lanes (and it’s part of the D2 regional bike route), but it shouldn’t qualify as a bike lane, because it’s a parking lane.

On the north side of the street drivers can park in the bike lane any time, except for once a month during the summer when street sweepers come through. On the south side of the street, people can park in the bike lane except on weekends and holidays.

Apparently, DPW expected people riding bikes to weave into the traffic lane as they encounter parked cars. Expecting bicyclists to swerve in and out of car traffic is not only dangerous, it’s hypocritical. DPW tells people to “ride in a straight line” and “always stay within a single lane” on its “Rules of the Road” website.

The two-way street is in a residential neighborhood with lots of driveways and has a posted speed limit of 30 mph (except for a portion in a 20 mph school zone). One section of the bike lane runs along Rocky Mountain Lake Park, which has three parking lots.

No modern street design manual recommends that bike lanes share space with parked cars. It’s not a thing, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials manual, to which Denver purportedly subscribes.

The design appears to be a relic from a much earlier, less enlightened era at DPW, but it was actually installed in 2012, according to the department. Almost any other treatment you could think of would be safer.

Got a picture of something that’s making Denver’s streets better? Worse? Share it on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #SweetStreet or #StreetFail, and we may share it on the blog. You can email me as well.

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