Cycling advocates plan Valentine's Day love-in to support protected bike lanes

There's been debate aplenty in the cycling community about a plan for a new proposed bike lane for 15th Street. Now, a Valentine's Day special: The advocacy organization BikeDenver is staging a "love-in" this morning, all to let Mayor Michael Hancock and other local officials know about the widespread support for protected lanes. Details from BikeDenver executive director Piep van Heuven and more below.

The event will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. this morning in front of the City & County Building, where participants will hold a Valentine's banner directed at Hancock and ring bells -- bike bells, cow bells, etc. -- to "showcase the need and demand for protected bike lanes that increase safety for all users," notes BikeDenver in an action alert about the rally.

And those who can't participate are encouraged to send Hancock a Valentine with a pro-bike lanes message; to see drop-off locations, click here.

Additionally, BikeDenver urges social media savvy cyclists to tweet the following message: "@MayorHancock @DenPublicWorks Happy Valentine's Day! We love protected bike lanes. @bikedenver #bikelanesdenver."

Corresponding via e-mail about the love-in, executive director van Heuven gives ups to the Public Works department for considering protected bike lanes on 15th Street.

"BikeDenver is excited to see that DPW is committed to increasing safety and convenience for all users with this project," she notes. "Bicyclists in Denver want to see safer facilities, and we believe that the 15th Street project is the perfect opportunity to introduce Denver's first significant (eleven block) protected bike lane on a high-use arterial corridor."

Currently, van Heuven points out, "the only bikeway in Denver that has any protective elements is the one-block cycletrack located on the Bannock street sidewalk opposite the City and County Building."

In her view, there's no doubt more would be embraced by members of the cycling community. "City counts show an average of one-hundred people are riding a bike at peak hours (4-6 p.m.) compared to 800 to 1,000 motor vehicles," she writes. "That's a very significant number -- over 10 percent. So the need for a heightened facility is obvious."

Still, it's important to BikeDenver that such lanes are done right.

"The real question is whether Denver is just designing bike facilities as a response to documented demand, or is going to commit to producing facilities that will create increased ridership for the people who want to bike, but aren't going to choose the handlebars over the car keys unless they feel safer riding downtown," she emphasizes, adding, "Protected lanes do exactly that -- so we (heart) and support the concept that Denver can do better, with better bike facilities.

"To meet the goals expressed in city planning documents to increase walking and biking in Denver, our Mayor and the Manager of Public Works will need to love this vision as well. The time for this commitment is right now. If we are just starting to talk about protected bike lanes two years from now, we'll have really missed the boat."

More from our Environment archive: "Bike lane on 15th Street: Will it enhance safety or continue to leave cyclists vulnerable?"

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts