Battle over roads and trails in Colorado between cyclists, hikers, pedestrians, cars & now scooters

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DENVER -- Who owns the roads and trails in Colorado? That certainly depends on who you ask.

“The bike lanes are just dangerous,” said one opponent of Denver’s South Broadway bike lane expansion who did not wish to be identified. “They’re dangerous for everybody."

“This is an eco-friendly way to commute,” said a Boulder cyclist, who also did not want to identify themselves by name.

Between cars, bikes, pedestrians, mountain hikers and now electric scooters – you can almost feel the tension between all sides.

"I think the new electric scooters are awesome,” said user Logan Cabral. “They're super easy to use."

"Everybody despises this bike lane,” said Mike, who works on South Broadway, and who did not wish to be fully identified for this story. “We think it's a waste of time and money."

The issue is certainly a deadly one. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), 2017 was the worst year ever for cyclists and pedestrians on Colorado roadways. A total of 109 people were killed on bikes and on foot. That’s 17 percent of total traffic deaths last year.

"To have the city implementing this right on a main retail thoroughfare is difficult for us," said Scott Heron, who owns the Skylark Lounge on Broadway. “They’ve installed too many signals. It’s like the beeping signals in a hospital. You just tune them out."

On the other side, the City of Denver says it's not only keeping the South Broadway bike lanes, it's expanding them. 

"The goal is that we're trying to move more people, more efficiently around the city," said Heather Burke, spokeswoman for Denver Public Works.

Adding to an already tense debate are these are e-bikes or e-cycles.

"With these bikes, you can pedal as much or as little as you want," said Conor Canaday with Pedego E-bikes in Boulder.

They look no different than a regular bike. Advocates say they make commuting on a bike more practical for more people.

"It gets people back on a bike that maybe haven't been on a bike in a long time," Canaday said.

And then there are the dockless scooters. Fresh on the scene, they are already everywhere.

“You can find one close and go wherever you're going and just leave them there," said scooter user Chad Laurel.

But the City of Denver says that’s the problem. They’re being parked anywhere and everywhere.

The City warned the two scooter companies, Lime and Bird, that it would start confiscating the scooters this week if left in the public right-of-way.

Another point of contention is the battle between hikers and mountain bikers.

This month, Jefferson County is launching a pilot program opening a trail just for mountain bikes.

The idea is to see if separating mountain bikers and hikers will ease long-standing tensions between the two.

“I think it will be nice because you won’t be competing for space,” said mountain biker Eric Scott. “And you won’t get dirty looks when passing a hiker.”

Heron suggests the City of Denver take a page out of that playbook.

“I would like to see them turn Bannock into a bike only bike lane," Heron said.

"We think that there can be space for everyone,” said Tim Blumenthal, president of People for Bikes.

Blumenthal says to look no further than Fort Collins as a model. It was recently awarded ‘most bikeable’ city in America.

“Fort Collins is doing a great job of building a complete network,” Blumenthal said. “They have very few accidents."

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