Three times a week, Charlie Myers would ride his bike down 35th Avenue on his way from Wheat Ridge to Denver and dread crossing the intersection at Irving Street in West Highland.
“This was a harrowing experience, to go through here,” says Myers, a cycling advocate with the group Bike Jeffco. “During rush hour, it really was dangerous.”
Now Myers and other bicycle commuters have one less dicey intersection to worry about, and city officials say there are a lot more changes like it on the way. As of today, January 16, a new median has been installed at 35th and Irving, diverting car traffic to the north and south while allowing bike and pedestrian traffic through.
“That helps a lot, and it’s a pretty good straight shot into town,” Myers says. “And it’s a route that has regional significance, because bike commuters from as far as Golden and other places — Lakewood, Wheat Ridge — use this as a regular route.”
The 35th Avenue Neighborhood Bikeway, which will stretch between Kalamath Street and Sheridan Boulevard, is part of a plan by Denver transportation officials to build out more than 125 miles of bike infrastructure by 2023. Mayor Michael Hancock joined other city officials and mobility advocates to unveil the changes today.
“We’re ushering in a bicycle revolution here in Denver,” Hancock said. “We not only are trying to balance moving people throughout the city, we’re also talking about sustainability, as well as health. The more we encourage people to get out of their cars and to use different modes of transportation, the healthier we all are, and the safer we all are.”
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Under the newly renamed Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, the city will coordinate the striping of bike lanes with street paving operations, and install "high comfort bike facilities" that prioritize bike traffic through better signage, low speed limits and other traffic calming improvements.
Other planned Neighborhood Bikeway projects include the Garfield Street corridor between City Park and Cherry Creek, and Knox Court between Kentucky Avenue and Alameda Avenue. Funding for the projects comes in part from the Elevate Denver Bond approved by voters in 2017.
Hancock, who in 2016 announced a Vision Zero initiative that aims to eliminate traffic-related deaths by 2030, also voiced his support for a bill recently introduced at the state legislature to outlaw hand-held cell phone use while driving.
"We can stand up and talk about Vision Zero all day," Hancock said. "But if drivers on our roads don't make a commitment to say, 'I'm part of this solution,' it will only be a slogan."