Denver Hits 2.2% Bicycle Commuter Mode Share for 2010

The American Communities Survey published its commuter mode share estimates for 2010 this morning and the news is great for Denver!

Denver’s bicycle commuter mode share increased to 2.2% in 2010, up from 1.8% in 2009. That’s a 22% increase in one year and is more than 4 times the national average of 0.5%. Since 2005, the percentage of bicycle commuting in Denver has increased by 57.1%, and since 2000 it has increased by 131.6%. Nationally, Denver compares well with other large cities. As shown in the graph below, Denver ranks 6th among the 43 cities with populations over 400,000. Thanks to Andy Duvall, Vice Chair of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, for putting this graph together (click to enlarge).

Here is a link to the American Communities Survey website:

This impressive increase is due in no small part to the diligent work of Denver’s bicycle advocacy organizations and strong city leadership that has made increasing active transportation a priority for Denver’s Public Works and Community Planning & Development departments. Over the past several years, Public Works has added many miles of bike lanes and facilities to the Denver street grid, making it easier for commuters to make the choice to bicycle to work. Just last week, Larimer street from Downing to Broadway joined an impressive list of downtown streets with marked bike lanes. In addtion to Larimer, new bicycle lanes on Champa, Stout, Bannock, Welton, Glenarm, Washington, Emerson, 16th into the Highlands and 22nd from City Park have made getting into Downtown on bicycle more possible over the past two years.

Last Thursday Larimer Street was converted to two-way traffic with bike lanes in both directions from Downing to Broadway. Go take a ride on this great new facility and see some of the galleries, bars and cafes that are popping up along RINO’s main street.

In addition, the growing strength of bicycle advocacy organizations like BikeDenver, which launched Denver’s first Viva Streets this past August, has helped raise the bar for city officials when it comes to making Denver a great city for walking and bicycling. Another important factor is the launch of Denver B-Cycle, which completed its first season in 2010 and will add more than 20 additional stations to its growing network in 2012.

Left: Denver Bike Share opens its first Season on Earth Day April 2010.

Right: Mayor Hickenlooper announces the opening of Denver’s first pilot Bike Share station at the Webb Building in 2009.


Denver has great momentum at this point, with a solid plan in DenverMoves to continue to improve the city’s bicycle infrastructure. In 2010 we can expect to see many more miles of bicycle facilities added to Denver streets including a cycle track, curb-separated bike lane on 15th Street through Downtown Denver, Denver’s first Bicycle Boulevard, a street prioritized for bicycles in Southwest Denver along Knox Court, and possible bike lanes on 19th and/or 20th Avenues providing needed connectivity between Downtown Denver and the West City Park and Uptown neighborhoods.

Images below represent one potential treatment optoin for a cycle track on 15th Street and an existing cycle track in Boulder.


Still we have a long way to go to reach Denver’s stated goal of 10% bicycle commuting mode share by 2018, so get out and ride your bike and help make Denver the healthiest, most fun urban place to live in America! Oh, and it will give you great legs 🙂

By | 2011-10-17T17:56:15+00:00 October 17, 2011|Categories: Bicycles, Infrastructure|16 Comments


  1. dave October 17, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    since you were on the denver moves committee, could you explain why they only recommended 2.7 miles of traffic separated cycle tracks, when cities like chicago are proposing 100 miles over the next 4 years?
    i hate to be a downer, but biking won’t become mainstream until the average person feels safely separated from speeding traffic. if the task force charged with planning our bike network over the next decade won’t push for this, I’m not sure who will.

    • icyclegirl October 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm

      Interesting points and correlations from a report out of Harvard, ‘Risk of injury for bicycling on cycle tracks versus the street’
      -Cycle track construction has been hampered in US by engineering guidance, specifically, AASHTO guide for development of bicyle facilities.
      -Yet the chief obstacle to bicycling, especially for women, children and seniors is perceived danger of vehicular traffic.
      -In Montreal the cyclists use the cyle tracks 2.5 times more as streets and had a 28% lower injury rate.
      -Cycle tracks exist and continue to be built in The Netherlands where 27% of all trips are by bicyle and 55% of biycle riders are female.

  2. icyclegirl October 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Great seeing Larimer converted to a two-way. It’s much more inviting to pedestrians and bicyclists alike, which equals good for business/development- existing and future. Now, let’s get our streets with already existing amenities more inviting to ped/bikes and not so car-oriented. Let’s retrofit these streets with bike lanes and cross-walks. Where am I talking about? Broadway, 17th (Uptown), Lowell. Yes, we have bike lanes near these areas, but the bike lane should be on the streets where the people and the businesses are. Great job to everyone who contributes to making Denver a more bicycle-friendly place.

    • dave October 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm

      agreed. the previous bike plan focused on shunting bikers onto low traffic streets. the problem with this is that only high traffic arterials cross Speer and I25 which are huge obstacles. A two way cycle track on broadway with an improved bike and ped friendly intersection at speer would go a long way towards connecting neighborhoods in denver. also would like to see the 15th st cycle track extended into lower highlands.

  3. Freddie October 18, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    I’m a HUGE advocate of mass transit, urban infill, etc. HUGE advocate. But I’m in the minority among the transit/infill-advocacy crowd when it comes to converting one-way streets into two-way’s. I think people who don’t spend considerable time, daily, as a pedestrian, assume that a two-way street might somehow be safer and more inviting for pedestrians and bicyclists, but in my experience it’s just not. Two way streets are dangerous barriers to cross compared to one-ways. Instead of having all the traffic bunched together in neat little slow-moving groups (timed lights) you have it all spread out and coming from multiple directions. Intersections are more hazardous because cars are coming and going from four directions, making both left and right turns.

    Imagine walking north through capitol hill. You get to 13th – a major thoroughfare; crossing is a breeze. Often you don’t even have to break your stride. 14th? Same thing. But then you get to Colfax. Now that’s a barrier. Jay walking is NOT an option. You have to stand there – sometimes for minutes – waiting for the light to change. And then when it does, and you finally venture out into the street, you’re nervously looking over your shoulder to make sure someone making a left or right turn doesn’t plow into you. If Colfax was just as busy, but it was a one-way, would this be the case? Nope. At worst, it would be like a Lincoln or Broadway.

    I’m under the assumption I might be missing something here and I welcome a retort. I’ve commuted on foot and via public transportation for many years, in three different cities, but I’m not a bicyclist. Is the bicyclist world that much different than the pedestrian world? I’ve tried to envision how a two-way street would be more inviting for a bicyclist, but I’m just not seeing it.

    (And I’m not just picking on you, icyclegirl. This notion of two-ways being better/safer has been brought up before in these blogs.)

    • dave October 18, 2011 at 8:39 pm

      Two way streets are harder to cross, but they are much easier to ride on. Having to circle around the block to get the direction you want because of one way streets is a big pain on a bike. if your destination is two blocks away, but in the wrong direction, your trip might be twice as long. as a pedestrian you don’t have to deal with this, you can walk any way you want on the sidewalk, but on a bike this can significantly increase your travel distance. also having a rush of cars bearing down on you at 35 mph on a one way street can be very disconcerting.

      • dave October 18, 2011 at 8:43 pm

        also, crossing a two way street can be made easier by installing pedestrian islands. in my neighborhood, crossing logan on a bike can be very trying, but if you cross at ellsworth, you can go half way, stop and look for traffic and then proceed. come to think of it, ellsworth would make a great bike boulevard because it is already cut off to car traffic at logan.

      • BC October 19, 2011 at 10:09 am

        It is common in the best bicycle places (Netherlands of course) to convert targeted low speed streets to one-way for cars, two-way for bikes. This is done to reduce but not exclude car traffic so that shared space is possible. It is also done on faster one-way streets simply by having one way cycle tracks on both sides of the street, or a two-way cycle track on one side of the street. David and Judith Hembrow, English bike activists and professionals living in the Netherlands, and Mark Wagenbuur, a Dutch bike activist and videographer, have the absolute best website for illustrating this.

        Every biker / bike professional should become well versed in this web site.

      • Freddie October 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm

        hmmm…good points. I suppose having the traffic clustered together into groups would make each cluster feel a bit like an avalanche coming.

  4. Matt October 19, 2011 at 10:33 am

    One thing I cannot help but notice is that Portland has had 6% mode share for as the last few years, despite having a relatively thorough bike infrastructure, forward thinking policy makers and a culture that embraces bikes. Are these the kind of numbers we are going to see before hitting our own plateau?

    Portland has a number of barriers, chiefly the weather and topography that Denver does not, so perhaps we might see a higher number before leveling off (maybe 8%?) but I think it’s going to take more than just plopping down bike lanes all over Denver to get people to actually commute via bike. A different parking policy, perhaps? I don’t think there will be one magic solution, but it will be interesting to see what it takes to reach the goal of 10%.

    • Freddie October 20, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      I’ve always thought there will only ever be a small percentage of people that don’t mind a slower mode of transportation, getting to work sweaty, etc., so it’s unrealistic to ever expect a substantial proportion of people to commute on bike. But BC mentioned the Netherlands… I have no idea what proportion of people there use bicycles as their primary mode of transportation, but man it sure seems like 80%, lol. Bike’s are EVERYWHERE – stacked up against the sides of all the buildings, etc. All the bike traffic in the streets made the cities feel so lively and intimate. I thought it was so neat and wished Denver could be like that. Perhaps there’s a cultural barrier? Maybe if Denver had as many fixed-gear hipsters as Portland, it would already be at 6%, lol.

  5. Stosh October 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    I’m proud of this accomplishment and look forward to even more pedestrian,bike,’and car friendly streets

  6. Jeffrey October 21, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I’ve used the bike sharing here in Denver occasionally and found it to be handy. However, I recently spent a week and a half in DC and exclusively used the bikeshare as tourist to get around. Great experience! It was glimpse of how things could be here. Arrived at Reagan, caught the Metro into town, walked to the hotel, and bought a multi-day bike pass. From there on it was all bike share. It’s not a super bike friendly town, but they do have a few cycletracks and bike lanes. Nevertheless it was great to be a tourist on a bike and able to get just about whereever I needed to go and then hop on a train and get out of town. Saved a couple hundred dollars at least, which gives an incentive to spend a bit more money on local businesses in town.

  7. Scott B October 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Thanks for the fantastic report on Denver’s cycling progress. Dedicating infrastructure and space is the first step in encouraging more bike commuters. After all, if it weren’t for the Cherry Creek trail leading into downtown along Speer, I doubt I would bike to work every day.
    Check out this comical piece from City Fix. Danish Cops Give Out Hugs and Helmets:

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