It Shouldn’t Take Years to Complete the Broadway Bike Lane

That bright green line up top represents the raised bike lane coming to Brighton Boulevard. Imagine if it continued south, through the heart of the city and all the way to I-25 and Broadway. Image: DPW
That bright green line up top represents the raised bike lane coming to Brighton Boulevard. Imagine if it continued south, through the heart of the city and all the way to I-25 and Broadway. Image: DPW

Back in 2015, BikeDenver released this map of bike lanes to nowhere. Though Denver’s bike network has grown over the last couple of years, there’s still no safe, comfortable north-south bike connection through the heart of the city. That’s why the Broadway bike lane is so important to complete — and soon.

Denver Public Works made the above map to show where it plans to install protected bike lanes, “separated” (striped) bike lanes, and other bike improvements this year. The map reveals how much work remains to be done to turn the city’s sparse collection of bike lanes into a complete network that lets people get places on a bike without stress.

The lack of good north-south routes stands out especially:

Image: BikeDenver
Image: BikeDenver

Right now there’s a half-mile segment of a two-way protected bike lane on Broadway, between Bayaud and Virginia avenues, disconnected from any other bike lane. It’s a DPW demo project that’s been in place six months, but has been in the works for more than two years.

The streets department purportedly wants to extend it from I-25 to at least Colfax — and hopefully, eventually, Brighton Boulevard, where it would connect to a great raised bike lane (that bright green, slanted line on the map).

But the latest on Broadway is that the city will study the demo project longer before designing a permanent version. That’s a long time to wait to fill a huge gap in the bike network that the city knows is problematic. At what point does the Hancock administration pick up the pace and make a real difference for bicycling in Denver?

Since BikeDenver released its map in 2015, various organizations including Bicycle Colorado have brought influential thinkers on transportation planning to speak about bike infrastructure. The mayor should take it from them…

Gabe Klein, former DOT chief in D.C. and Chicago:

“Denver should be a national leader in active transportation. And it can be, and I think you can do it in one year to two years.”

Charles Montgomery, author of “Happy City”:

“Bike lanes are a great baby step from the 1990s. Cities around the world who have success by creating more freedom by giving more people the opportunity to move in various ways by bike, you only succeed if you build a connected network of safe, separate bike lanes — places where people aren’t scared about getting run over.”

Brent Toderian, former Vancouver chief planner:

“If you want to get serious about mode share for cycling, you’re going to need a much faster and more robust approach to building separated, protected bike lanes. I’ve seen your built examples. It’s kind of like what Vancouver was doing, which was building them really slowly, and not in enough of a complete system to actually see the gains that you’re going to need to show in order to convince more people that this is a great idea.”

Mikael Colville-Andersen, “bicycle urbanism” expert and founder of Copenhagenize:

“The greatest thing about bike infrastructure today is very, very simple. It’s all been invented. It’s all ready to use, off the shelf, like in a supermarket.”

  • TakeFive

    I’ll admit that I was originally skeptical of all this bike lane noise. My experience consisted of endless hours on the High Line Trail and around Cherry Creek Reservoir, mostly. But my knowledge has grown exponentially, which isn’t hard to do when you start near zero. I can now appreciate that bike lanes should be incorporated into the urban and city fabric.

    Hopefully, there will be funding set aside for this in the GO Bonds expected for a vote in November..

  • red123

    Denver is pathetic. Look at cities like Seattle, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Chicago, even LA. They are all kicking our butt.

  • deadindenver

    Looking at the map, one can additionally notice there is virtually nothing connecting the city west to east either. There is no dedicated bike crossing over or under the Platte river, Santa Fe drive, I-25 between Confluence park all the way south to Englewood near Dartmouth ave. As a pedestrian or a bicyclist, try and east west crossing at Alameda, Mississippi, Iowa and Evans, everyone of those options is unsafe and just plain deplorable for pedestrians and cyclist.

    • Brian Schroder

      Yes! The suggested bike crossing on Alameda that directs you across Santa Fe from Cherokee St to the South Platte River Trail. Only a lunatic would think it was safe. The Iowa tunnel that supposedly connects Wash Park to the South Platte River Trail and west to Florida St? I’ve tried it many times thinking is this the day I die?

    • saff123

      Jolon Clark has said they’re working on rebuilding the Iowa underpass for pedestrians and bikes. I wonder why we still don’t see it on DPW’s planned work for 2017. Clark has said improved east-west connections is a top priority for his district.

  • Brian Schroder

    I was in Cedar Rapids, Iowa last week and I saw about the same amount of downtown bike lanes as Denver. While I appreciate the effort what the city has done over the last ten years is poor relative to what other cities have accomplished.

  • Walter Crunch

    Denver is more focused on flash than results. If it were not for the Cherry Creek trail Denver would be a wasteland. There are multiple three lane one ways down towntown that could easily be converted to have bike lanes and still keep all three lanes.

    By the way, where was Hancock to ask cdot to put in a bike highway with the i70 ditch? Where was anyone for that matter.