Bike Law Brian recently interviewed the City and County of Denver’s Bike Planner Rachael Bronson and was quite impressed with her thoughtfulness and ideas to improve biking in Denver. Rachael Bronson works with a team of 8 full time people who are working to make bicycling better and safer in Denver. They are studying all forms of traffic flows through the Mile High City and formulating designs to deal with the mixed types of transportation to get folks through the City with less stress and congestion. While her Department is guided by NACTO Standards of best practices (See http://nacto.org/publication/urban-bikeway-design-guide/) they are also developing their own guidelines specific for Denver.
Rachael is presently looking at planning new bikeways of 19th and 20th Streets in Denver. This ambitious plan would elevate Denver’s Downtown Bikeways to the likes of other bike friendly cities that have more protected bike lanes; thereby, making those streets safes and more fun for bike riders.
Rachel’s Department conducted a comprehensive study of weekday use of 15th Street both before and after the protected bike lanes were established. The results, were interesting and showed that cyclists are much less likely to ride on the sidewalk when a protected bike lane is present. So the fear of riding in the city streets can be minimized when there is a marked and protected bicycle lane.
In the past, I have written about the numerous “left hook” car v. bike crashes on 15th Street in Denver. I asked Rachael why is the 15th Street Bikeway on the left side of the street as my cyclist and Colorado State Laws promote bikes staying as far to the right as is safe. The answer was quite complex, but it really came down to the bus routes that drop patrons off on the right side of the street, and the act that there are also more driveway cuts on the right side of the street. Despite the accidents on 15th Street, the bikeway has been a success and has spurred business development in the area.
Rachael explained that Denver is a partner with Safe Routes to Schools. More funding for Safe Routes to Schools is on the way and she expects that to benefit lower income areas. Interesting the Downtown Denver Expeditionary School will reaps the benefits from such planning. See the picture above of the family that commutes to the Downtown Denver Expeditionary School by bike and also work in Denver.
Lastly, we talked about Denver’s plans to make bike riding safer in the city. Rachel said that Denver wants to make bicycle riding in Denver “more predictable and consistent” so that car and other users know what to expect from the traffic on our roads and bike lanes.