Marion Parkway Bike Lane Critics Walk out as City Presents Design

A bicyclist rides on S. Marion St. Parkway Nov. 7. The city presented a protected bike lane it will install on the left side of the street. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A bicyclist rides on S. Marion St. Parkway Nov. 7. The city presented a protected bike lane it will install on the left side of the street. Photo: Andy Bosselman
The S. Marion Street Parkway protected bike lane will run along the left side of the street. Illustration: DPW
The S. Marion St. Parkway protected bike lane will run along the left side of the street. Illustration: DPW

The city presented a new design for a protected bike lane that prompted a group of opponents to storm out of the meeting in a huff without even commenting. 

“At the Marion Street bike lane meeting last night there was overwhelming support,” wrote John Rieke on the Facebook page of the Denver Bicycle Lobby this morning. “It was so amazing that most of the anti-lane crowd saw the writing on the wall and simply left the meeting without contributing their usual bad-faith comments.”

A professional mediator laid out strict ground rules to keep the conversation civil. But before people lined up to comment in the packed auditorium at Steele Elementary School, officials from the Department of Public Works presented a protected lane that will run on the left side of the street and add safety elements at intersections, including where a driver hit and killed bicyclist Alexis Bounds on July 24.  

A crowd packed the auditorium at Steele Elementary school. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A crowd packed the auditorium at Steele Elementary school. Photo: Andy Bosselman

The day after Bounds’s death, Patsy Brown, the lead organizer of a petition against the bike lane, told Streetsblog that her main concern is about how the street will look. 

“All I care about is preserving the beauty of the parkway,” she said about the leafy street. 

Street safety advocates and neighbors agreed that the bikeway should look good and pushed the city to find a more attractive option than the inexpensive white plastic posts it often uses to mark bike lanes. 

“Our fear was that it would be solid bollards for the entire four blocks all the way,” said John Haralson, over the phone this morning. He had earlier expressed concerns about the bike lane to the city. “I feel I succeeded in getting my issue addressed. I think we have a very successful plan here.” 

Though a limited number of plastic bollards will be installed to guide snow plows and send a visual cue for drivers to keep out of the bike lane, its main feature will be a four-inch concrete curb installed on the left side of the parkway. 

Proposed Marion Street Parkway Bike LaneThe design addresses a number of concerns raised during the public input process, including loading, parking, dooring and emergency vehicle access, said Piep van Heuven of Bicycle Colorado.

The four-inch curb is shorter than most in the city, which will allow emergency vehicles to drive over it. It’s placement on the left side of the street will keep the right side open so that delivery trucks and elementary school students can continue to load there. It also will prevent car passengers opening doors into the bike lane. 

“They worked hard to listen to all of the community feedback, said van Heuven. “They presented a design that alleviated all of those concerns.” 

A man expressed concerns about the bike lanes impact on the neighborhood. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A man expressed concerns about the bike lane’s potential impact on the neighborhood. Photo: Andy Bosselman

But many of the roughly 25 people who made comments expressed safety concerns about specific elements along the bike lane, especially at intersections. 

Jeff Cain, who lives in the neighborhood, pointed out the spot where the Parkway transitions to East Bayaud Avenue near the Denver Country Club. There, northbound bicyclists would need to move from the left side of the street to the right. 

“They have to go across Marion to get to the bike lane,” he said. “Cars are coming at a high rate of speed from behind them and may not be looking there. Unless cars have to stop here, or unless there is a safer way to get people from the left side to the right side, we may have someone die.”

A man insists that the protected bike lane is unncessary to Mike Gill of DPW. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A man insists that the protected bike lane is unncessary to Mike Gill of DPW. Photo: Andy Bosselman

The Department of Public Works will summarize Cain’s comments and the feedback of others as it finalizes the design process through the spring.

Teddy Bounds, Alexis’s husband, generally approves of the design and believes it may have prevented his wife’s death. 

“I think things would have turned out differently had this existed then,” he told Streetsblog after the meeting. “I’m definitely supportive of how this turned out.”

Advocates proposed installing a sign to remember Bounds, or naming the entire bike lane in her honor. The Department of Public Works will consider both. 

Construction will start in July and is expected to be completed within a few weeks.


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