#StreetFail: People Are Parking All Over the 14th Ave Bike Lane

Perhaps this person parked in the bike lane because the sign actually says it's allowed. Photo: David Sachs
Perhaps this person parked in the bike lane because the sign actually says it's allowed. Photo: David Sachs

The city’s newest “protected” bike lane does not always protect people on bikes.

Denver Public Works installed the West 14th Avenue bike lane, which is supposed to separate bicyclists from motor vehicle traffic with a row of parked cars, last month. It’s an improvement over the striped, unprotected bike lane it replaced, but too often the new bike lane is obstructed by drivers who either don’t know what they’re supposed to do, or just don’t care.

You can probably chalk up some of the dysfunction to the typical learning curve for a new street design, but the city can also take some basic steps to improve this bike lane.

The city’s other parking-protected bike lanes — on Arapahoe Street, Lawrence Street, and South Broadway — feature plastic posts, or bollards, that delineate the parking lane from the bike lane. On most of the 14th Avenue lane, DPW opted for a tan-and-white painted buffer instead, to save money.

Sometimes drivers seem to have no idea that they are parking in a bike lane:

Other times drivers encroach on the lane because they’re sloppy and lazy, and nothing is physically stopping them from doing so:

DSC_0703
Photo: David Sachs
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Photo: David Sachs

“The project team is distributing flyers to businesses and stakeholders in the area, which shows the correct way to park,” a DPW spokesperson told Streetsblog in an email.

The DPW design called for bollards at intersections for extra protection, and on the curvy section of 14th along Civic Center Park. But the posts are missing at some intersections, and along the curve. It’s “a work in progress,” the spokesperson said, and more will be added “in the coming weeks.”

The design called for bollards at this intersection, but they're are none. Photo: David Sachs
The design called for bollards at this intersection, but they’re are none. Photo: David Sachs

Signage is also a problem along the 14th Avenue curve, which feels like the most exposed portion of this bike lane. Underneath the “bike lane” sign is another sign that indicates drivers can occupy the lane for “loading” purposes (see photo at the top of the post).

DPW knows that physical barriers make a difference — it’s installing a foot-tall curb to protect the 14th Street bike lane later this year. There are other ways to keep cars out, like heavy planters, for instance.

The results so far on 14th Avenue suggest Denver needs at least some type of physical deterrence to keep its protected bike lanes clear. Whatever works without slowing down the pace of bike lane construction, DPW should try.

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