By Allen Cowgill
At a recent small ceremony, Mayor Michael Hancock unveiled a sign marking 125 new miles of bikeways for the Denver bike network, and the city announced more bikeways are planned for the Globeville, Elyria and Swansea neighborhoods.
The sign marks a major milestone with an aggressive buildout of bikeways throughout Denver, though some residents feel the new bikeways do not go far enough for comfort and safety.
In the GES neighborhoods, the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) has numerous projects in the works for pedestrians as well as people who bike. According to DOTI spokesperson Vanessa Lacayo, the department recently completed plans for the Lincoln Street neighborhood bikeway between 44th Avenue and 51st Avenue. DOTI hopes to have it installed by the end of 2024.
Lacayo also said the department has added multi-use paths for people who bike and walk, with more to come. Paths were recently added along 51st Avenue between the South Platte River and Emerson Street, along with a temporary asphalt path on East 51st Avenue between Washington Street and Emerson Street.
“The next phase of work will feature a new 10-foot, multi-use path on the north and south sides of 51st Avenue from Logan Street to Emerson Street,” Lacayo said. “Construction for that is slated to begin in 2025.”
In addition, GES will receive some major investments for people who walk, bike or take transit as the neighborhood has been identified as the next part of Denver for a Community Transportation Network. “DOTI’s next round of Community Transportation Network planning will be focused in GES, where we’ll be engaging the community to understand how to best implement a multimodal approach that plans, designs and builds additional sidewalks, transit improvements, intersections and bikeways in that area,” Lacayo said.
“Planning and design work will kick off later this year with the goal of starting construction by late 2025/early 2026.” The goal of 125 new miles of bike lanes was set in 2018 by the mayor with the objective of bringing high-comfort bike facilities within a quarter mile of where more Denverites live “to connect riders of all abilities to the places they want to go.” At the event, Hancock said, “This is not a victory lap. We are proud of the milestone we have reached, but we’ve got to keep going.”
When asked about Denver being a growing city and the importance of providing numerous options for people traveling, Hancock said, “It’s the only option. The old, single- mode transportation system in Denver no longer applies. We have grown exponentially over the last decade. We have to be a more multimodal city, and we have to have the infrastructure that supports it.”
“The various types of bike lanes we have … are extremely important for folks to feel safe in riding bikes and using different modes around the city, whether they are on scooters [or bikes], we have to continue to invest in transit,” Hancock continued. “We don’t have any other option.”
DOTI actually exceeded the mayor’s goal, building out 137 miles of bikeways since 2018. Although the original goal was for bike lanes, it has since been expanded to include neighborhood bikeways, or bike facilities that are not actual bike lanes, and routes that share the road with drivers on low-volume streets.
Of those new bikeway miles, 24 miles were painted bike lanes, 45 miles were buffered bike lanes (bike lanes with painted spaces between the bike lanes and vehicle travel lanes), 23 miles were protected bike lanes, 34 miles were neighborhood bike lanes, and 11 miles were shared-use paths and trails.
“As we continue to build out our bike and multimodal network, we are creating a more sustainable alternative to driving that’s safer, enjoyable, and better for our health and our environment,” DOTI Executive Director Adam Phipps said.