The Bike Projects Denver Public Works Built in 2017, and the Ones It Didn’t Deliver On

The 14th Street bikeway. Photo: David Sachs
The 14th Street bikeway. Photo: David Sachs

Denver Public Works made some key additions to the city’s bike network in 2017, but red tape has dragged a few bike projects behind schedule.

Here’s an inventory of what DPW built this year compared to what the agency said it would build back in January.

14th Street curb-protected bike lane: Yep

This bikeway between Market Street and Colfax Avenue is probably Denver’s best because concrete curbs act as physical deterrents to drivers parking in it (though bits and pieces of the lane lack the curb treatment). It’s a welcome improvement over the city’s typical bike lane protection toolkit of plastic posts, paint, and signs — and parked cars, when they’re around.

Fourteenth Street still needs work. Drivers turning right across the lane often don’t yield to people on bikes pedaling straight. And drivers still park in the lane to pick up and drop off passengers at busy locales like the Denver Performing Arts Center, so if DPW cannot install curbs as it claims, more enforcement is a must.

19th Avenue bikeway: Nope

DPW planned to build an eight-block bike lane on 19th between Broadway and Park Avenue with three blocks of concrete curbs to protect riders from traffic. That didn’t happen.

The bikeway is part of a bigger project that will convert parts of 19th and 20th avenues to two-way streets. It’s been under construction for more than six months.

14th Avenue parking-protected bikeway: Yep

14th Avenue. Photo: David Sachs
14th Avenue. Photo: David Sachs

After a serious learning curve, drivers finally seem to understand that they’re supposed to park outside the 14th Avenue bikeway, which runs just a half-mile between Speer Boulevard and Bannock Street — or about 500 feet past Bannock to be exact. The last bit of the bikeway abruptly ends at the art museum and library, however, tossing riders back into traffic. (A construction zone without any temporary accommodation for people on bikes has wiped out this segment entirely, for the time being.)

There’s plenty of room to create a bikeway all the way up 14th, but that would require reorganizing the three-lane, one-way speedway to prioritize bike riders.

Wynkoop Street redesign with protected bike lanes: Yep

The latest iteration of Wynkoop Street between 15th Street and 19th is the best one so far, with a protected bike lane on the north side of the street for one block in front of Union Station. But DPW still prioritized street parking over bicyclists’ safety on the south side of the street at the city’s largest, most important transit hub. Motorists still constantly force people on bikes into traffic as they load and unload passengers.

Photo: David Sachs
Wynkoop at 16th. Photo: David Sachs

“Neighborhood bikeways” on Knox Court and 35th Avenue: Nope

A “neighborhood bikeway” is what DPW calls a collection of streets that don’t necessarily have bike lanes but are designed to prioritize walking and biking. Streetsblog first reported on the 35th Avenue project more than two-and-a-half years ago. A DPW spokesperson said the 35th and Knox Court bikeways will happen in 2018.

That will entail adding traffic-calming measures like bump-outs (extending curbs further into the street at intersections), turn bans, and “diverters” that block motor vehicle through traffic but allow bike traffic.

Extra protections on existing lanes: Nope

DPW was supposed to test new types of barriers that physically protect bicyclists from speeding motorists on parts of the super sketchy 15th Street bike lane and the Arapahoe Street bikeway. Fifteenth was supposed to get curbs between Stout and Curtis, while Arapahoe was slated to receive both planters and curbs — something like this — from 17th to 19th.

“The barrier curb on 15th and planters on Arapahoe are on hold due to various delays including resurfacing (Arapahoe) and lane realignment with the tower construction (15th),” a spokesperson wrote in an email. “We didn’t want to rush installation knowing these factors were in play.”

Standard painted bike lanes on Union, 2nd, 23rd, and 25th: Yep

With the exception of 23rd Avenue, Streetsblog wasn’t aware of these projects, but they’re complete, according to the city’s website. We’ll audit them in the new year.

  • iBikeCommute

    One big disappointment was that DPW repaved almost all the streets downtown with converting any existing bike lanes into protected lanes. Probably because they need to conduct a year long “study” before making any such changes.

  • John Riecke

    It sucks that every “yes” comes with a caveat. Denver needs a “yes” with no “but”.

    • Funding was a problem in 2017 John, but with voters passing the Denver transit initiative in November the next several years will see more local funding, which hopefully will make-up for the loss of some Federal funding under Donald Trump.

      • John Riecke

        These were not issues of funding but choice. The city didn’t run out of concrete curbs to use on 14th, they deliberately skipped sections. Same with Arapahoe, the paint wasn’t too expensive, it just wasn’t put down in order to appease frightened business owners.

        • I consider concrete curbs added lengthwise like that to streets far more dangerous for both motorists and pedestrians. Wait until some drunk hits one late at night at wipes out a bunch of pedestrians after flying and hitting them 3 feet off the ground. There was a good reason that such fixed obstructions were taken out as a safety measure years ago.

          And yes, the city, the metropolitan area, the State, and RTD is very light on funding through 2040 with the urban area forecast to grow to 4.3 million people. Don’t take my word for it though.

          Here is the DRCOG 2040 Fiscally Constrained Regional Transportation Plan, and among its highlights is the fact that CDOT is 68% short on projected needs funding through 2040, RTD is almost 80% short, and even bike route funding is almost 60% short too.

          Because of the projected budgetary shortfall miles of local roadway subject to severe congestion is projected to more than double by 2040.

          Considering that the transport needs of all of Metro-Denver’s residents and businesses must be fairly considered and steps taken to benefit the most number of people for the least amount of capital expenditure bike infrastructure will suffer.

  • Bruce Cutlass

    35th Avenue project is taking wayyyyy too long. DPW must improve at getting relatively simple projects like this done quicker.


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