Denver Rolls Out New 29th Avenue/15th Street Bike Lanes

Denver Public Works is in the final stages of implementing a major new east-west bicycle connection through Northwest Denver. Stretching about 2.3 miles from Sheridan Boulevard to just past Central Street on the downtown street grid, the new West 29th Avenue/15th Street bike lanes make bicycling along the corridor a safer experience and provide a more equitable balance in the use of the public right-of-way between automobiles and bicycles.

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New northwest-bound bike lane on 15th Street between Central and Boulder streets.

Along different segments of the corridor, the existing lane configurations were changed to accommodate the new bike lanes. For example, from Sheridan to Lowell, curbside parking was removed on one side of West 29th Avenue to make room to add the bike lanes. Between Lowell and Federal, enough space was freed up for the bike lanes by eliminating a center turn lane.

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Google Earth aerial with the extent of the new 29th Avenue/15th Street bike line highlighted in yellow.

Between Federal and Speer, the former condition was a mess of travel lanes, turn lanes, and striped islands that made for a confusing drive for motorists and a daunting experience for bicyclists:

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The previous condition of 29th Avenue between Federal and Speer included a confusing mess of travel and turn lanes. Source: Google Earth

Now under the new configuration, it’s pretty simple: one travel lane in each direction for motor vehicles, a buffered lane in each direction for bicyclists, and curbside parking along the south side of the street:

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Diagram showing new street cross-section for West 29th Avenue between Speer and Federal. Source: City and County of Denver

West 29th Avenue also received a road diet between Umatilla and Clay streets, where previously there were two westbound and one eastbound travel lanes. One of the westbound lanes was eliminated to squeeze in the new bike lanes. However, in the process, West 29th Avenue picked up a new curbside parking lane between Umatilla and Zuni that hadn’t existed before.

Likewise, in the one-block stretch of 15th Street between Central and Boulder/Umatilla (collision of the street grids!), there were two northwest-bound lanes and one southeast-bound lane. One of the northwest-bound lanes was removed to make room for the bike lane, as can be seen in the photo below. Unfortunately, there’s currently not enough room for a southeast-bound bike lane.

One northwest-bound travel lane and new bicycle lane on 15th Street between Central and Boulder streets.

Finally, an important lane reconfiguration that everyone needs to be aware of occurs on the 15th Street bridge over I-25. To transition from two northwest-bound lanes to one, the right lane on the bridge becomes a right-turn-only lane for Central Street:

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New lane configuration on the 15th Street bridge over Interstate 25.

To see maps and before-and-after diagrams of all of the different segments of this project, check out this presentation by Public Works from a November 2015 public meeting.

While this is a huge improvement for biking in Northwest Denver, there’s still the big gap in the bicycle network on 15th Street between Central Street and LoDo. That missing link is being studied by Public Works this year, so hopefully by the end of 2016 or early 2017, a design solution for providing a safe and convenient bicycle connection between Lower Highland and Lower Downtown will be identified.

The new West 29th Avenue/15th Street bicycle connection was a recommended project in the Denver Moves: Bicycles plan, and it is very exciting to see this and many other new bicycle infrastructure projects being implemented throughout the city. Thank you Denver Public Works!

Oh, happy Bike to Work Day too!

By | 2016-12-28T15:50:30+00:00 June 22, 2016|Categories: Bicycles, Infrastructure, Motor Vehicles|Tags: |20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. David June 22, 2016 at 8:50 am

    It was a huge miss when CDOT replaced the 15th street bridge and resurfaced from the platte river to central street without adding any bike infrastructure. Hopefully this will be remedied and the city will no longer allow CDOT to ignore complete street design through our downtown.

  2. Chris Jones June 22, 2016 at 10:02 am

    I have come across this and think it’s great for cyclists as well as vehicle traffic. Way too much was going in terms of traffic lanes for an already confusing part of town to navigate. The signage and striping was woefully inadequate and there was a constant battle between what was intended/signed and was was intuitive. The new realignment is much more in line with how people intuitively navigate the area, and I would feel much more comfortable bicycling here. This is a huge improvement.

  3. Daniel June 22, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Are there any provisions for cyclists on the 15th st bridge over the Platte? Its been a while since I’ve ridden there, but it always felt like a death trap.

    • Ken Schroeppel June 22, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      No, but there is a center “island” that is completely unused but is there because it becomes a turn lane at Platte and Little Raven.

      • eracer June 23, 2016 at 8:13 am

        I always thought it was silly to have a dedicated turn lane to turn left (north) onto Platte from 15th, there are very few that make this turn, and 15th is already two lanes so people can go around if needed. The turn does happen on the downside of the hill so it could be a little dangerous in slippery conditions I suppose, but that would only be a couple times a year.

        Same thing with the left turn lane onto Little Raven from 15th, its just not used all the frequently.

        Seems to me they could easily re-stripe the roads and create enough room to turn these islands from Platte down to Little Raven into more traditional bike lanes.

  4. Jeff June 23, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Even though I don’t live on this block anymore, the 5 way intersection 15th/Boulder west to Zuni was a drag strip for cars going up hill since there were 2 vehicular lanes. It was scary how fast people zoomed up the hill. Anytime I saw a cyclist on it I thought “wow, you’re brave.” Dangerous for sure. What an upgrade. Hopefully people in a hurry will move over to Speer…

  5. Today’s Headlines | Streetsblog Denver June 23, 2016 at 8:07 am

    […] Public Works Striped Bike Lanes on 29th Ave. and 15th Street (DenverUrbanism) […]

  6. John R June 23, 2016 at 10:44 am

    How’d they manage to take out a car lane from Central to Umatilla and still not have enough space for bike lanes in both directions?

    • Ken Schroeppel June 23, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      Because there were two northwest-bound travel lanes and only one southeast-bound lane. They removed one of the NW lanes to put in the bike lane. If they wanted to add in a SE bike lane, they’d have to remove the on-street parking on that side of the street.

  7. […] and eliminates some general travel lanes and turn lanes on some segments. Ken Schroeppel over at DenverUrbanism has the detailed […]

  8. David B June 23, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    These new bike lanes are an enormous help; I’ve been riding that route for years, and it’s so much less stressful now. Right turns across the bike lane are still plenty exciting, though.
    I would love to see a lane between LoDo and Platte. The bridge over the Platte isn’t great, but the underpass under the train tracks is worse. I see lots of cyclists ride on the sidewalk instead, which really seems like a more dangerous alternative, given the amount of traffic that now turns right from 15th onto Little Raven–and aren’t looking for fast moving bikes entering the street behind them and to the right.
    I’d also like to see a better solution to the bike lane along Wynkoop; both the area in front of Union Station, and the right-turn onto 15th are rife with cars in the bike lane.

  9. Liz F. June 26, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Rode the newly minted 29th Street bike lanes yesterday out to Sloans Lake. Ridiculously easy!! Yah Public Works!

  10. Jon Dwight June 26, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    I agree. This is a very exciting development. Let’s see even more!

  11. httpperson June 28, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    The fact that this is being done at the same time that development of housing is being greatly accelerated is just a slap in the face to anyone who has to travel on these streets in a vehicle. This has caused a regular traffic jam and we are just in the first week of it idiotic implementation. We are seeing forced social engineering which is based on an alternate reality where everybody starts riding a bike. This is how our so called representative government is representing us tax paying citizens these days. These people should be thrown out on the streets for making this decision.

    • Ken Schroeppel June 29, 2016 at 4:53 am

      The public right of way is not just for cars but for pedestrians and bicyclists too, and all users deserve a safe dedicated portion of the street to use.

      • httpperson June 29, 2016 at 5:33 pm

        I was not aware that bicyclists paid any taxes that are directly targeted at maintaining roads. The population is rapidly growing and there is absolutely no justification for 15th St. to go down to one lane to get into the Highlands. There are bike paths everywhere and they are useless for 5+ months out of the year. There are 3 bridges that cross into downtown down aligned with 16th St. This a ridiculous slap in the face by self-righteous environmental radicals to people who drive cars. Now we’ll all be stuck at this bottle neck polluting the air. Last night it took me 10 minutes at 8pm to get through this joke. Normally it would take 2 minutes max. That is 5 times as much pollution for you environment stewards. Similar to how plastic shopping bags we’re going to save the trees, environmental activists rarely consider the unintended but often obvious consequences of their emotional knee jerk decision making.

  12. Ryan July 1, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Thanks httpperson. I appreciate your honest opinion. I respect the fact that you would share your anger openly and honestly, and that you would like to better be in control of how these things work. I don’t know of a solution to this ongoing debate, but I know you did a great job communicating with the above well thought-out opinion.

  13. jeffreym July 4, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Now maybe the city can address the awful 23rd Ave “bike lane” from Federal over I-25. With street parking on both sides of the street and a pathetic bike striping job, every morning and evening is a game of chicken.

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