Denver Installs First Protected Bike Lane

The Downtown Denver Partnership is pleased to share with you that last night, Denver’s first protected bike lane was installed on 15th Street. Protected bike lanes are on-street lanes, separated from traffic by curbs, planters, parked cars or posts, that aim to make riding a bike an appealing option for people of all ages and abilities.

Striving to make Denver a bicycle city as outlined in the Downtown Area Plan (DAP), the Partnership has been a strong advocate of building more protected bicycle facilities in and around Downtown Denver. As stated in the DAP, the goal is to “provide clear bicycle connections into and through the Downtown, and incorporate services and facilities that address the whole trip.”

The Partnership’s efforts have included early support since  2010 for the 15th Street protected bicycle lane and more recently securing $140,000 to study the implementation and design of protected bicycle lanes in Downtown Denver through grants from the Gates Family Foundation, the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District and the 14th Street General Improvement District. In 2013, Phase I of the 15th Street protected bike lane project was complete which piloted unique features including green pavement, markings and bike boxes.

Just last month, the Downtown Denver Partnership announced that the Green Lane Project has selected Denver as one of six new U.S. cities to join its intensive two-year program to build better bike lanes. The GLP publicly stated that the Partnership’s support for protected bike lanes was a key factor in selecting Denver. Building a premier environment for both bicycles and pedestrians is an element of the Partnership’s place-based economic development strategy that aims to make Downtown Denver more attractive to entrepreneurs and millennials. In 2014, the Partnership is excited to work with the City to plan where and how to implement a new network of protected bicycle lanes in Downtown Denver. In 2015, the Partnership will work with the City to implement recommendations resulting from the study.

To read more, see the Denver Public Works official press release below.

On the evening of May 21, crews began installing vertical separation between bicycles and vehicles along the 15th Street Bikeway in Downtown, making it Denver’s first protected bike lane. Work began at 15th and Court and will move down the 15th Street corridor to Larimer Street as installation unfolds.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock and others will “test ride” the new bike lane on Friday morning, May 23, starting their route at the City and County Building at 8:00am and heading down the new bikeway to end their ride at Union Station. They encourage the community to join for the morning ride.

“Denver is excited to introduce this innovative infrastructure to one of our heavily travelled routes,” Mayor Hancock said. “We are constantly looking for ways to better move people, not just cars, and we hope the commuting community will join us on Friday morning for a test drive!”

The 15th Street Bikeway, which was installed last August, piloted a variety of features that were new to Denver including green pavement markings, mixing zones, and bike boxes. The Bikeway has been successful in organizing traffic along the corridor, with bicyclists riding in the left lane, buses on the right, and vehicles in the middle. Preliminary data shows that the installation of the bikeway resulted in an increase in bike use along the corridor and a decrease in bicyclists using the sidewalk.

With Phase II construction of the Bikeway now underway and vertical separation being installed between bicycle and vehicle traffic, the City hopes even more people will find the 15th Street Bikeway to be an attractive option for travel through Downtown. The Bikeway supplies a vital connection in Denver’s bike network, providing access to the Cherry Creek trail (by turning left on Larimer Street) and to lower downtown by continuing along the right side of 15th Street, along a sharrow facility, after the bikeway ends. Motorists driving next to the new protected bikeway will continue to LOOK LEFT for bicyclists when merging into the left lane to make a left turn off of 15th Street.

The commitment made by Denver Public Works to install vertical separation on 15th Street and install a second protected bike lane by the end of 2015 demonstrates the city’s desire to provide for and encourage use of all modes of travel for all ages and abilities. Denver is receiving technical assistance in the installation of low stress protected bike lanes as one of six (6) cities selected to participate in the two-year, intensive People for Bikes Green Lane Project.