The Bike Streets Project - Get anywhere on a bike, reduce neighborhood traffic volume and speeds

by Avi Stopper

Why don’t more people ride bikes in Denver?

It’s not because they don’t want to ride. It’s because they’re scared of riding on big city streets. That fear isn’t unreasonable. Riding in the bike lane on MLK in Denver is anything but a pleasant, low-stress affair.

That’s why we created the Bike Streets Project, a community-led effort to design a map of low-stress streets that can get you pretty much anywhere in Denver. We invite you to join us or send us your feedback on the project.

The idea of riding a bike on neighborhood streets isn’t particularly novel: lots of people already prefer to ride on side streets. And the City has included a small number of such streets on the official Denver bike map. The problem is that there are only a few of them -- 35th Ave in the Highlands, 12th Ave in Montclair -- and they don’t connect to similar, low-stress routes.

The Bike Streets Project hopes to quickly expand on the City’s neighborhood bikeway concept. The centerpiece of the project is a new, low-stress bike map of Denver that we hope will get more people riding bikes.

The more people there are on bikes, the fewer cars there are on the road. This means less congestion for people who still want to drive. More bikes on side streets also discourages drivers from cutting through neighborhoods to avoid busy intersections. And when there are more bicycles and pedestrians on neighborhood streets, it encourages drivers who do use those streets to slow down.

With 250 miles of these low-streets, neighborhood streets and trails, the Bike Streets Map can get you pretty much anywhere in Denver.

When you can actually get to the places you want to go, bikes are remarkably liberating. They allow you to cover huge ground without putting in a lot of effort. Riding is great for your physical and mental health. And the cost per ride is incredibly low. This means that biking allows people with less to do more. If you don’t have a car, for example, you can ride a bike to a job that’s farther away than you might have been able to reach otherwise. You can ride with friends to an ice cream shop in a neighborhood you don’t frequent. Or, if you live in a food desert, you can get to a grocery store that sells vegetables. Traditional borders that segregate communities and exacerbate misunderstanding and distrust thereby become more permeable.

So, pump up your tires, find a route close to you on the Bike Streets Map, and go for a ride!

Kate Williams