Denver bicylists pedaling to work in greater numbers, city trying to keep up
So what's the city doing in response to the local growth of cycling? Or put another way, how is the expansion of the city's bike transportation network encouraging more folks to ditch their cars for their morning commute? Emily Snyder, a senior city planner with Denver's Public Works Department, who oversees bicycle and pedestrian issues, offers details.
First, it's useful to look at how the city has increased spending on bike-related projects.
In 2011, according to Public Works, the city spent $10.5 million on what the department calls "bike-pedestrian projects," a category that includes bicycle pavement markings, new trails and trail maintenance and other major projects, like bridges and underpasses.
For comparison, note that in 2006, the city was only spending $2.1 million in this area. The budget for these kinds of projects has steadily increased over the last six years, jumping from $4.5 million in 2007 to $6 million in 2008 to $7.7 million in 2009 and 2010, all the way to the latest available record of $10.5 million for last year.
Denver Public Works
"My focus and goal is to get more bicycling infrastructure out there -- more bike lanes and sharrows," Snyder says. (Sharrows, by the way, are bike markings indicating that cyclists have room to share the road.) Part of the challenge, she adds, "is recognizing that there's a bunch of different users out there -- people that are experienced bicyclists...novices...you've got families.... It's making sure you have facilities out there for all those different types of riders."
Snyder says that over the past five years, the city has more than doubled bike infrastructure from sixty miles of lanes and sharrows to 137 miles of lanes and sharrows today. That's about an average of a twenty to 25 mile increase in pavement markings each year.
For additional perspective: In 2011, the city added two miles of sharrows and sixteen miles of bike lanes, while Public Works has already added eight miles of sharrows and seventeen miles of bike lanes in 2012 to date.
"From the Public Works standpoint, I would say we are extremely committed," Snyder says. In terms of the larger vision of increasing cycling infrastructure, in 2012, the city is particularly focused on expanding the bike network on the west side of the city, she notes.
If you're into ranking stuff, the Downtown Denver Partnership has collected info that puts Denver and Colorado into a larger context across the country. The Alliance for Biking and Walking ranks Colorado twelfth in the nation for "bicycle friendliness," and Denver is also ranked a "silver level" city by the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly Communities (whose categories range from bronze through platinum). Bicycling Magazine also lists Denver as the twelfth best bicycling city in the nation. Finally, based on U.S. Census data, Colorado finishes fourth in the country for those who bike to work, and Denver is sixth in that category.
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