DENVER - Denver was chosen as one of six cities to participate in a two-year program with Boulder-based People For Bikes to build protected bike lanes.
The Green Lane Project launched in 2012, and provides strategic and technical assistance to help cities improve their bike lanes. Denver applied last year but was not picked.
Deputy Director of Green Lane Project Zach Vanderkooy said Denver stood out this year because they had support from the Mayor, city council, local businesses and transportation director.
"It's a great way to invite more people to ride bikes who might not feel comfortable with just a few inches of paint between them and moving cars," Vanderkooy said.
Denver's Director of Transportation Crissy Fanganello said the city has focused efforts to improve the bike community in the last five years. Last summer, it installed its first protected bike lane on 15th Street.
"We’ve seen a huge shift in terms of people are using that facility [protected bike lane], which has been fabulous," Fanganello said. "We get to work with a lot of other cities. Learn from them in terms of what have they done in the past, what’s worked, what doesn’t work. Lessons learned so we can do things here better, smarter, more efficiently and really encourage more people to ride bicycles."
Roughly three percent of Denver commuters are cyclists, but People For Bikes said these lanes are meant for everyone.
"The conventional bike lane, the five inches of white paint is just really not an option for most people. It's not an option for my mother, it's not an option for my older neighbors or their kids," Vanderkooy said. "A really good measure is would you feel comfortable letting your 8 year old use it? If the answer is 'no,' it's not good enough."
People For Bikes said the lanes make roads safer for all users, reducing injuries up to 50 percent. In New York, local businesses on the 9th Avenue corridor where protected bike lanes were installed saw a 49 percent increase in retail sales.
Denver will have to fund the cost of the lanes. Right now, the city is still deciding how and where they will build the lanes, so they do not know how much it will cost. However, People For Bikes said typically protected bike lanes cost $100,000 per mile.
The other five cities chosen were Atlanta, Boston, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Seattle.