Auraria's new bike lane eliminates downtown "dead zone" for cyclists, advocates say

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The roughly half-mile lane, which officially opened for use on Monday, runs on Curtis Street from Speer Boulevard to 5th Street. This location provides connectivity to bike routes on Arapahoe and Lawrence streets and also offers easy access to the Auraria West RTD Light Rail station.

"I've been here for five years, and the most consistent question I get is, why can't we ride bikes on the campus?" says Jill Jennings Golich, a campus planner who led the design effort. "The Auraria campus is a commuter campus. Students and staff need to get to the campus in some way...[and] we really did not provide good access for bicyclists."

In addition, she says, the new lane opens up the campus for cyclists in the surrounding area. This is something that the city's main advocacy group BikeDenver has pushed for for years.

"The Auraria campus, which is a huge piece of real estate right in the heart of downtown, used to be an enormous dead zone for anybody on a bike," says Piep van Heuven, BikeDenver's executive director. "It's one of the key connectivity projects in Denver in the last five years."

Looking at the city's bike map and the major gap in the network created by the campus, which is home to Metropolitan State College of Denver, the Community College of Denver and the University of Colorado Denver, a solution was clearly needed.

The bike lane opened in time for the start of the fall semester, and Golich says she is committed to trying to make the area accessible for cyclists and safe for pedestrians -- all of which is a part of the latest master plan for the campus.

The connections to the Cherry Creek trail are key, she says, adding, "It's not just about getting around the campus, it's about getting to the campus."

The campus currently has 164 bike racks and a total of 1,400 bike parking spaces, Golich says. A survey showed there were 606 bikes parked on campus at the peak time of Monday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. last fall.

Continue reading for more on the lane and to see bike maps of the new facility.

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Sam Levin
Contact: Sam Levin