Updated: Another Bicyclist Dead and Bike Opponents Still Reject Marion Safety Upgrades

The intersection where David Anton crashed his work vehicle into a bicyclist yesterday. Image: Google Street View
The intersection where David Anton crashed his work vehicle into a bicyclist yesterday. Image: Google Street View

July 26, 2019 1:54 p.m.: This story has been updated to include the name and age of the victim and details about the nature of the crash from other media.

Alexis Bounds, who was riding in a bike lane near the Denver Country Club, died Wednesday after a driver crashed into her at about 3:57 p.m., according to Denver police and the medical examiner’s office. She was 37. 

David Anton crashed his work vehicle into her while he was making a right turn at about 20 mph. He failed to yield to the cyclist, who had the right-of-way, according to police. A witness told other media that he was driving a garbage truck and may not have seen Bounds.

Police cited Anton for careless driving resulting in death. Bounds is the second bicyclist to die on Denver’s streets in two weeks

“A bicyclist was killed less than two weeks ago,” thought Tenly Williams when she heard of the crash. Just 30 minutes before the cyclist died, she and her nine-year-old son rode their bikes through the exact location of the collision. “No. Not another cyclist death,” she thought.  

Screen Shot 2019-07-25 at 10.23.04 PM

The fatality happened where East Bayaud Avenue meets South Marion Street Parkway. It is the far end of Marion Street, a historic parkway where the city is planning safety improvements to the existing bike lane. But a group of neighbors are fighting to stop the upgrades and their organizer, Patsy Brown, says yesterday’s death hasn’t changed her mind.

“All I care about is preserving the beauty of the parkway,” she said about the leafy street with a grassy median where she lives. “These small oases of design beauty are going to become more and more rare and it seems imperative to protect them.” 

But bicycle advocates are fed up with the “Not In My Backyard” mentality that often slows down street safety improvements. Shortly after the Denver Police Department issued a tweet about the fatality last night, Piep van Heuven of Bicycle Colorado expressed her frustration. 

“I don’t want to hear more NIMBY hogwash that someone’s interpretation of ‘historic’ is more important than keeping people from dying,” she tweeted

Yesterday’s death is the second in the last five years where a pedestrian or cyclist died on Marion Street, according to Heather Burke, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Works. Though the street’s total distance is just four blocks, 37 crashes have happened in that timeframe. Six included a person on a bike and two included a pedestrian.

Williams and her son were on their way home from a movie when they rode their bikes across the location of the crash shortly before it happened. News of the fatality made her question the route she chose.   

“It’s sad and frustrating that the safest route we could possibly take is where somebody died,” she said. “It crossed my mind, ‘What was I doing there with my son?’ And I thought about how it could have been me, my son, or both of us.” 

Hayden Kenreich, 5, and Dylan, 10, often ride with their mother, Amy on Marion Street. Kenreich says she doesn’t think many the neighbors who signed the petition against the bike lane have considered all of the facts. Photo: Amy Kenreich
Hayden Kenreich, 5, and Luella Williams, age 6, often ride with parents on on Marion Street. Photo: Amy Kenreich

Much of the controversy about changes to the bike lane stem from a slide DPW showed in a presentation at the first community meeting about the proposed changes, says Brown. A rendering showed Marion Street lined with white plastic soft-hit posts to divide the bike lane from vehicle traffic, which neighbors say would be ugly.  

“[DPW] said they were going to use vertical separators, plastic posts,” said Brown. “In a normal neighborhood, that would probably be great. But on this particular four-block parkway, the design guidelines put out by Parks & Rec since the 1980s, it’s very specific about what you can do to the physical street.” 

But the Parks and Recreation Department has no authority over the street itself. 

“The parkway designation doesn’t prevent Denver Public Works from managing the safety and operations of the transportation network,” said Burke. And bike advocates, who have welcomed plastic posts for past bike lane projects, think they’re unattractive, ineffective and don’t want them there, either.  

“So far, Denver’s default protected bike lane is white [plastic] bollards,” says van Heuven. “Bicyclists don’t like them. They’re just ugly.”

Denver does not space plastic posts closely enough to prevent cars from entering bike lanes, she says. And other approaches to designing bike infrastructure, like using landscaping to separate traffic from the Brighton Boulevard bikeway, are safer and look better.

“There’s an element of the bike community asking, ‘Why can’t we have nice things? Why are you always doing the cheapest things, which are the plastic bollards?’” 

After a recent public meeting, many assumed the posts were no longer being considered, but today DPW wouldn’t go that far. 

Kenreich's children ride their bikes on Exposition Avenue on their way to the Steele Elementary playground on Marion Street. Photo: Amy Keinreich.
Kenreich’s children, Dylan, 10, and Hayden, ride their bikes on Exposition Avenue on their way to the Steele Elementary playground on Marion Street. Photo: Amy Keinreich.

“We’re still early in the design stages,” said Burke. “It’s too soon to know what types of protection elements will be included in the final design.” 

DPW will present five design options for the bikeway changes in a community meeting later this fall.

Amy Kenreich, who rides on Marion Street with her children, Hayden, 5, and Dylan, 10, says she doesn’t think many the neighbors who signed the petition have considered all of the facts. 

“I would guess that the people signing the petition are not seeking out all of the information before they sign it,” she said. 

A recent University of Colorado Denver study of crash and street design data from 12 cities found that roads with protected bike lanes make streets safer for all road users, including cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. 

Kenreich wants her neighbors to know that through good design, the parkway can remain beautiful and become more safe. 

“I want some people to be more open,” she said. “They could have the bike lane, and they can have beauty, and we could have safety.”

More information about the proposed changes to the Marion Street Bikeway can be found at the project’s website. Bicycle Colorado issued an online action alert where supporters of the project can contact the appropriate members of the city council.

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  • TakeFive

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the victim in this horrible, tragic accident.

    For anyone interested in the details Denver7 has a very good account. https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/crime/bicyclist-killed-after-being-hit-dragged-by-dump-truck-on-s-marion-street-at-bayaud

    • Many thanks for posting this link. If you watch the video there are a few moments where they show the actual intersection.
      At 0:38 you can see the reporter standing at the intersection in question. He’s facing south. Behind him is the entrance to the D11 sidepath. This is the road (labeled as S. Marion Pkwy on map apps) where the bike lane is. It’s striped all the way up to the intersection which discourages cyclists from moving out to avoid right hooks and discourages right turning motorists from yielding to and merging into the bike lane to make their right turns as required by law.

      At 1:10, they show a bicyclist’s POV video of making that right turn onto Bayaud which is more or less what the motorist did.

      • TakeFive

        It’s easy to have more questions than answers. In this specific tragedy “protected” lanes would have made no difference.

        In the video it shows a rider going by that goes outside of the bike lane. I started to realize why many riders don’t care for ‘protected’ lanes. The paver-barriers they just added to 15th St. are ugly but in that area perhaps the best idea? (Scroll down and see here: https://twitter.com/00Piep ) On 15th St, the bike lane is wide enough so riders can pass. But along So Marion Pkwy where there’s a narrower bike lane those could be dangerous for anyone needing to pass another rider or just in general.

        With respect to previous crashes along So Marion Pkwy my guess would be they primarily occur at intersections. Perhaps paying more attention to intersections would be more beneficial than the bike lane itself.

        • Great points.

          Perhaps I should have explained in the previous post why I was going into so much detail. The purpose of me writing all of that was to show the editors at Streetsblog their location in the article is off. I was hoping they’d fix it.

          Other potential crashes on Marion would also include doorings. The parking lanes do seem to be wider than usual, perhaps around 9 feet but a lot of cyclists ride in the door zones or just barely outside of them because they fear being hit from behind.

  • Somebody else pointed out location issues on yesterday’s post but I can’t fund it.

    I think the streetview location posted in this article is incorrect as is the location of the bike crash relative to where the separated facility is supposed to be installed. There’s no designated bike lane at that intersection. All the articles so far including the police statements indicate she was using a bike lane. The bike lane is instead a block West. Cyclists going Northbound use that bike lane to connect to the D11 route which is a super wide sidewalk that connects to Cherry Creek.

    What’s confusing for everybody is that there are two streets with similar names per Google and Apple Maps.

    There’s S. Marion Pkwy and S. Marion St. The former has the bike lane, the latter does not.

    The police department’s probable cause statement states S. Marion St., not Pkwy but then specifically states the victim was in a designated bike lane.

    To make things even more confusing both intersections also say Pkwy. So apparently the distinction between the two only exists in Google Maps and Apple Maps’ info. On the street both are identical.

    A protected bike lane wouldn’t have done anything to prevent this type of crash unless some sort of traffic control devices were added and obeyed to ensure both participants don’t enter the intersection at the same time. This crash is a textbook “right hook” crash which are extremely common on roads with bike lanes whether they’re “protected” or not.

    • scoot777

      Reading the article and looking at StreetView, I was guessing that the collision might have actually taken place a bit further south at South Marion Pkwy and South Marion Street. South Marion Street essentially functions like a slip lane there, and a truck could easily “turn” onto it across the bike lane without slowing down at all.

      That slip lane street serves zero purpose other than to save drivers making the maneuver from Marion Pkwy northbound to Bayaud eastbound a few seconds. It should be removed regardless of the bike lane design decision.

  • TM

    I think everyone agrees that plastic posts are terrible. They are supposed to be for quick, temporary fixes to keep things safer and the design flexible until a permanent barrier like a curb can be installed. Denver has been putting them up and acting like the job is done. Yes, they are ugly, and not very effective as cars just drive between or right over them.
    If we do a good job with this lane, we’ll have curbs or planters, something solid and not ugly and I don’t see how anyone could have any kind of reasonable complaint.
    We just need to make sure the design is actually safe and doesn’t include any of the god awful “mixing zones” at intersections.
    Designing safe bike infrastructure is not hard. There a plenty of manuals on how to do it already, we don’t have to act like this is something new we have to figure out. We just need leadership willing to do it right.

    • Seymour Butz

      ugly but better than nothing to at least try and begin correcting the behavior of drivers of chariots of convenience

      • TM

        Yeah, better than nothing for sure. But really should only be used short term until concrete can be put in place.

  • GFTW

    Patsy Brown is very heartless and selfish.

  • Seymour Butz

    “All I care about is preserving the beauty of the parkway,” she said about the leafy street with a grassy median where she lives. “These small oases of design beauty are going to become more and more rare and it seems imperative to protect them.” hopefully Patsy feels the pain of a family member being hit because she sure as hell doesn’t care unless it impacts her

    • Camera_Shy

      Perhaps she is too worried about her real estate business to care…

      btw, did you author the book “Under the Grandstand”? 😉

    • Tammi

      Alexis Bounds was a mother of 2 children and a loving husband. To say “I only care about preserving the beauty of the parkway” is extremely selfish and short sighted. Would she have the same response if this was her adult daughter?

  • >> July 26, 2019 1:54 p.m.: This story has been updated to include the name and age of the victim and details about the nature of the crash from other media.

    On 7/29 both the Google Streetview and other image is still incorrect.

  • james

    Very sad to hear. Not only could better infrastructure help, such as bulb blow outs, more than anything education is needed via simple campaign.

    For one, right hand turns are worth focusing on, as they are probably the most common accident. From a drivers perspective, signaling is the most important thing. Not sure the garbage truck did or didn’t.

    From a cyclists perspective, its understanding blindspots, and avoiding them like the plague, especially as you approach any intersection. Its really easy to do once your used to it. Always fall behind, or move ahead of a vehicle as you approach any intersection, period. Never be beside a vehicle. If you see a car signaling to turn right, either move directly behind them, or behind and to their left. Basically be conscious of where you are relative to the cars around you at all times.

    I see many people put them selves in bad situations. I have had close calls myself back in the past, but not since being conscious of these simple premises. As a driver as well, I know how easy it is to not see someone who has been riding beside you for a minute or two which is why I never forget to signal.


  • Wash Park Biker

    I was hit here in the exact same spot a month ago by a white SUV with tinted windows pulling out of the country club (I didn’t get the plates because the driver didn’t even roll down his window to see if I was okay after he threw me from my bike), and was fortunate enough to walk away.

    It’s tragic that a life was lost because of the poor street visibility coming out of the country club. Further, prioritizing street aesthetics in an affluent area over protecting bikers from death’s danger is lamentable.