A Wave of Protected Bicycle Lanes
A wave of protected bicycle lanes is arriving on a national scale and Denver is one of the cities selected to enjoy it.
Boston, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Denver. These are the six cities, out of greater than 100 candidates, that People for Bikes has selected to assist in installing protected bicycle lanes. People for Bikes is a coalition of bicycle advocates and is also a charitable foundation that, through their Green Lane project which supports these six cities, assists cities in reaching their bicycle infrastructure and awareness goals. You may recognize their logo, as shown. If so, their advocacy and outreach tactics are effective!
Ok, so you may ask yourself: what is a protected bicycle lane and why is it different than any other bike lane? To start, it is important to know the purpose of a protected lane. They exist as to separates, both physically and psychologically, bicyclists from motorists. This aims to increase the sense of security for bike riders on busy streets with a lot of traffic. The theory behind the separation is that if riders feel safe, then it is likely that bicycle ridership would increase as security concerns are a major determent to would-be urban cyclists. Protected lanes use planters, curbs, parked cars or posts to prevent direct interaction between bikes and motor vehicles.
Denver has a goal of having at least 15% of its populace commute to work by bicycle (or walking) by 2020. So far, to assist with this goal and provide better infrastructure for those that already commute by bicycle, the city has installed one protected bicycle lane, and only partially so. This is the uniquely stripped lane on the left side of 15th Street downtown. Like most municipalities these days, Denver could use some outside financing and support in reaching many of its goals for the built environment. A partnership with People for Bikes for this reason is perfect. That organization, as the charitable entity that it is, has spent $30 million in improving urban cycling and has secured $654 million for bicycling from other sources. That kind of money will certainly help Denver, and the other five cities, improve bicycle infrastructure during this wave of protected bicycle lane installation. They will work with Denver’s Public Works department to bring to completion to lane on 15th Street (i.e. build the physical barrier it currently lacks) and identify other city streets that will receive protected lanes; helping to get the city installing them in those locations.
To learn more about People for Bikes and the good work that they do, you may visit them at http://www.peopleforbikes.org/.