As demand for increased bike infrastructure gains more and more traction, we’ve seen the question inevitably shift from whether to install bike lanes, to where to install bike lanes. With likely bike lanes on Broadway and Brighton, Denver has shown a willingness to take on big bike infrastructure projects—but that’s not the only way to build a robust network.
Most of the kickback I’ve heard about the prospective bike lane on Broadway has centered not on whether Denver needs a north-south bike corridor, but rather, on whether Broadway itself should serve as that corridor. Many advocates have clamored for Broadway as the ultimate victory. Others, however, recommended we focus on low-volume parallel streets such as Grant, Sherman, or Bannock instead.
The difference between these two opinions (Broadway or parallel to Broadway) boils down to a dynamic that we see very often in cities. On the one hand, is the purpose of bike infrastructure to connect bicyclists directly to destinations, often at the cost of existing traffic routes and at great expense? Or is it to provide access in a way that is least disruptive to existing infrastructure, as well as cheaper and easier to implement? Both are valid arguments and both have been used successfully.
In the immediacy, we need bike lanes on important routes. But the long-term goals must be increasing ridership through bolstered connectivity, and guaranteeing safe interactions between people on bikes, people walking, and people in vehicles. Essentially, we’re building a network. But whether bike lanes end up on major roads or on smaller, parallel roads should be up for debate.
And further, what happens on Broadway and Brighton will inevitably set the trend for the future of bike/ped planning in Denver. Those projects are extremely important. My theory is that any bike lane we build must be robust and safe enough for non-traditional—think families—bikers to feel comfortable riding on them. In the next two posts, I’ll explore what that caveat means for building lanes on major streets versus low-volume parallel streets.
What’s your preference? What do you see as the ideal solution for a north-south bike corridor?