MLK Blvd and 31st Ave Are Getting New Bike Lanes. Will They Be Protected?

Protected bike lanes on this pair of east-west streets would clearly be the most effective option to improve safety and make more people comfortable getting around on bikes.

Image: DPW
Image: DPW

Denver Public Works will install new bike lanes on stretches of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 31st Avenue, two parallel one-way streets that connect Curtis Park with neighborhoods to the east.

When finished, they’ll plug holes in the bike network, connecting residential areas with three schools, parks, the 30th and Downing RTD station, and bikeway links to downtown. The new bike lanes will run between Elizabeth and Downing streets.

Both MLK Boulevard and 31st Avenue currently have a mix of painted bike lanes and sharrows, which don’t provide protection from car traffic. With posted speed limits of 35 mph on MLK and 30 mph on 31st, people on bikes will need some physical protection from motor vehicles to feel safe.

DPW is considering protected bike lanes, said Rachael Bronson, a bike planner with DPW. Buffered but unprotected bike lanes — like on Champa Street — are another option.

If the city wants to get more people bicycling, protected lanes are clearly the way to go here. But as we’ve seen, most recently on Stout Street, complaints from a few residents can water down bike lane designs.

Denverites who support bike infrastructure that’s safe for everyone, including kids and seniors, can help put better designs over the top. DPW will hold two public meetings about the project, one on August 2 and one on September 26, where you can tell city officials you want safe bike infrastructure on these streets. The bike lanes should be implemented sometime in 2018.