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Archive of posts filed under the Bicycles category.

Bikes on the 16th Street Mall?

We’ve all seen the deluge of statistics showing the increases in biking as a mode share in Denver. According to the Downtown Denver Partnership’s 2014 Downtown Denver Commuter Survey, the number of people commuting downtown by bike has increased by 43% in the last year.

Combine that with new bike lanes such as the crowdfunding project on Arapahoe Street and the forthcoming Bike Hub at Union Station, and it’s clear to see that we live in a “bike city.” So why is that on Denver’s most iconic multi-modal street—the 16th Street Mall—bikes are all but completely banned?

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True, bikes are allowed on the mall on Sundays; and the city is considering lifting the ban for Saturdays. But is that enough? As a bike advocate, I’m excited for this progress, but for such a bike-friendly city, even the combination of Saturday- and Sunday-only access seems more like a consolation than a victory.

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The purpose of the current bike ban is to protect pedestrians and bicyclists—itself a necessary precaution given the handful of bike accidents that have occurred there. However, as bikes continue to make up an increasingly large mode share in the city, perhaps the time has come to rethink how we navigate interactions involving bicycles, as well as, fundamentally, how we categorize them. According to Chapter 54 of the Denver Revised Municipal Code bicycles are categorized as vehicles, “with all the rights and duties that apply to motorized vehicles.”

That’s a problem. Bikes are not cars. With the downtown bike commuting mode share approaching seven percent, bikes have earned the right to a separate designation with its own codified rights and duties in the city. This would also make bicyclist more accountable for obeying laws.

All in all, the ordinance to lift the bike ban on Saturdays is a positive step. But instead of asking whether to allow bikes on the mall, maybe we should ask how to incorporate bikes safely into the mall, in order to make it truly multi-modal.


Broadway: Denver’s Next Bike Corridor?

Anyone who has ever biked down Broadway knows how unpleasant of an experience it can be. Between cars passing far too close and at high speeds, and having to fight for space in a bus lane, most people just avoid Broadway altogether—understandably.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The reality is that Broadway has the potential to become a major thoroughfare not only for cars, but also for bikes and pedestrians. And this isn’t just one bike advocate’s pipe dream; plans for a bike-friendly Broadway have already been designed by city planners and approved by the Golden Triangle Neighborhood.

See these images of plans and renderings of Broadway from the newly completed Golden Triangle Neighborhood Plan:

Broadway Photo 1

Proposed design for the intersection of Broadway and 11th Avenue:

Broadway Photo 2

Images courtesy of City and County of Denver and Golden Triangle Neighborhood Plan.

The plan was approved by a Golden Triangle Neighborhood vote back in November, and as is clearly evident, includes bold plans for bike and pedestrian infrastructure. According to the plan (available here), there will be a protected bike lane on Broadway all the way from Colfax to Speer, with the possibility for further expansion north and south into adjacent neighborhoods as well. It makes sense. Currently, bikers heading downtown from South Broadway are forced to jump on and off of Bannock (currently the area’s only bike lane, albeit not protected) as it meanders tenuously through residential neighborhoods and by the hospital, then ride through the Sunken Gardens Park just to cross Speer, and finally either walk their bike or merge with high-speed car traffic on Broadway.

Back in December, BikeDenver capped its annual Winter Solstice Ride with a bike parade down Broadway from 12th Avenue all the way to Illegal Pete’s on South Broadway. It definitely felt safer riding with 60 bikers, and without having to worry about buses. But that withstanding, it was a powerful experience showing the potential of Broadway as a true bike corridor in the city.

We already have city and neighborhood support. Now we, as bike advocates, need to band together and make the actual implementation of this a public push for 2015!


The Bike Hub at Denver Union Station – Coming Fall 2015

by Peter Bird

As Denver continues to expand its bicycle infrastructure (protected lanes, bike parking, and bicycle-specific signage, to name a few), the city recognized the additional need for a major bicycle facility to serve Downtown bike commuters. With a planned opening in the fall of 2015, The Bike Hub at Union Station will soon become the center of bike commuting in downtown Denver. The creation of the Bike Hub was led by the City of Denver, the Union Station Neighborhood Company, and BikeDenver. All images in this post are courtesy of The Bike Hub.

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Adjacent to Denver Union Station and the 16th Street Mall, the Bike Hub will serve as a nexus for the city’s burgeoning bike culture. From the Bike Hub, bikers will be able to easily access downtown bike lanes, the Cherry Creek bike path, and the Platte River Greenway. In addition, riders parking their bike in the Bike Hub will have immediate access to all the shopping, entertainment and cultural activities downtown—no need to drive or worry about locking their bike up on the street.

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The Bike Hub Facility Details

The Bike Hub was modeled after successful facilities across the country, but also made to be uniquely “Denver,” capitalizing on the city’s current bike-centric attitude, the rise in percentage of residents who bike to work, as well as the multi-modal nature of Union Station.

The Bike Hub will be the centerpiece of an open-air public plaza featuring bike sharing, outdoor seating, and retail. This area will also include outdoor bike parking and rentals, as well as repair stands for professional repair and do-it-yourself repair stands for member use.

Riders will be able to choose between annual, monthly, or daily memberships; and they will access the secure building with a keycard. Inside the 2,800 square-foot building, members will find 160 enclosed bike parking spaces, as well as men’s and women’s showers and changing room facilities.

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The Future of Biking in Denver

Denver deserves a bicycle facility worthy of its impressive, yet still growing, bicycle culture. And it’s going to get it with The Bike Hub at Union Station. With the downtown bike commuting mode share approaching seven percent, and the number of people commuting by bike more than doubling since 2007 (now almost 10,000 people every day!), a dedicated bike facility is well deserved.

The Hub’s construction sends a clear message that the city recognizes the importance of biking for its future growth. And once completed, the Hub will serve the needs of those who already bike to work—or just downtown—and it will also encourage more people to bike into the city.

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Peter Bird grew up around the country and, after completing his Bachelor’s degree in linguistics, moved abroad, living in Hungary and Estonia. It was there that he first developed a love for cities and the transportation patterns within them. He currently works for BikeDenver and is also pursuing a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of Colorado Denver with a special interest in bicycle/pedestrian transportation planning.


Crowdfunding a New Protected Bike Lane on Arapahoe Street

By Peter Bird

At the Downtown Denver Partnership’s October Member Forum, the DDP announced an exciting new project on Arapahoe Street. Following a few temporary projects on that street—and supporting the larger Denver Moves Plan—they will be implementing a permanent protected bike lane.

Here is an image of the prospective bike lane provided by Alta Planning + Design:

Proposed protected bike lane on Arapahoe Street

The lane will extend along Arapahoe from Broadway to Speer, and will serve as a vital bicycle avenue through downtown—and through a thriving business district. However, the most novel aspect of this project is not necessarily its design or planning, but its funding structure. The DDP already secured $85,000 from the Gates Family Foundation as well as $35,000 from the business community, but they have also initiated a crowdfunding campaign to cover the remaining $35,000 needed for the lane’s construction.

This crowdfunding structure for a large-scale public infrastructure project is the first of its kind here in Denver. It was originally inspired by a similar project in Memphis, TN that was very successful. Aside from the structure’s usefulness as an alternative revenue stream, its grassroots nature allows for a level of public involvement and ownership not typically available.

Many downtown businesses have already expressed strong interest in the proposed bike lane—evidenced by the initial $35,000 raised by the greater business community. The crowdfunding campaign is available here and will be open to contributions until December 12.

Aylene McCallum, Senior Manager of Transportation & Research at the Downtown Denver Partnership, commented that this structure will allow business owners as well as individuals to show the city that they want these resources. Planners often tout the phrase, “if we build it, they will come,” referring to such infrastructure projects. But this project’s crowdfunding structure turns that idea on its head. It puts the power into the hands of individuals and businesses, and says, “if we come together, they will build it.”

More and more, we’re experiencing the positive effects of protected bike lanes on cities and neighborhoods. They encourage healthy behaviors, mitigate pollution and congestion, and promote vibrant business communities, among other things. And this crowdfunding structure, if successful, will send a clear message to key decision makers: We want more urban bike infrastructure!

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Peter Bird grew up around the country and, after completing his Bachelor’s degree in linguistics, moved abroad, living in Hungary and Estonia. It was there that he first developed a love for cities and the transportation patterns within them. He currently works for BikeDenver and is also pursuing a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of Colorado Denver with a special interest in bicycle/pedestrian transportation planning.


Two-Way Conversion of 18th Street in LoDo Opens

This past Sunday, November 2, Denver Public Works completed the conversion of 18th Street between Wynkoop and Blake Street in Lower Downtown to a two-way street.

The conversion of these two blocks from one-way to two-way traffic is an important step in helping make Lower Downtown into an even more pedestrian-friendly district. One-way streets exist primarily as a way of maximizing the movement of vehicles through an area, but they also force people to have to drive farther to get where they are going and they also encourage people to drive at faster speeds. One-way streets certainly have their place in the city, but speeding vehicles pose a threat to pedestrians and bicyclists; consequently, one-way streets are not desired in pedestrian-focused areas like around Denver Union Station. As evidence, simply compare your experience as a pedestrian along slower-speed, two-way Wynkoop Street versus the faster-speed, one-way Blake Street.

The 2000 Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan identified 18th Street between Wynkoop and Blake as one of several one-way streets in LoDo to be converted to two-way. Others included Wazee Street between 15th and 20th, converted a few years ago, which has greatly improved Wazee as a pedestrian-friendly street.

Here are a few photo (courtesy Ryan Dravitz) of the newly-converted 18th Street on Sunday afternoon shortly after the conversion work was complete:

View from Wynkoop looking southeast toward Downtown:

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View from Blake looking northwest toward the Union Station area:

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View from Wynkoop Plaza of the 18th and Wynkoop intersection:

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Overview of the two-blocks of 18th Street between Wynkoop and Blake with the integrated bicycle lane and MetroRide station.

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Space provided for pedestrians, bicycles, cars, and transit—a nice multi-modal street!