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Riders worry Denver roads can't handle e-bike influx

Bike lane
Posted at 9:51 PM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 00:20:40-04

DENVER — The City of Denver has received more than 5,000 applications for its e-bike rebate program since May, and is preparing to accept another round of applications August 1. There was so much interest in the program this month that the city’s website temporarily crashed.

But now, many bikers are asking if Denver will be able to build out its already-crowded infrastructure fast enough to keep up with this surge.

Denver7 spoke with David Millis, an avid e-biker who took up the activity with his wife at the beginning of the pandemic.

“We don’t even know what the price of gas is because we put less than 5,000 miles a year on our actual motor vehicle,” Millis said, touting the benefits of e-biking.

According to the City of Denver, e-bikes have been a “game changer for people,” allowing them to reduce their car use and even get rid of second and third cars in some cases.

Millis wants to see more of his neighbors join him in the e-bike phenomenon. However, he says the city has been too slow in building out the infrastructure needed to accommodate more bikers. He and other riders make up the Denver Bicycle Lobby, advocating for better biking infrastructure throughout Denver.

“Our streets need to be available to more than just cars,” he said. “They need to be safer for all of us. They need to be accessible by all of us.”

In a poll by the City of Denver, almost 60% of respondents said they are interested in traveling by bike but are concerned about safety while doing so. Protected bike lanes from traffic and neighborhood bikeways, in particular, are suggested for higher safety, but not everyone is on board.

“The primary impediments, we hear, are typically local neighbors saying, "Wait, what do you mean you want to change the street?" Or, "What do you mean we’re going to lose two street parking spaces?"” Millis said. “We’ve got supply chain crises, fuel crises, the planet’s on fire — literally, in some cases — and some other stuff. So, it seems like now would be a good time to accelerate those plans, maybe reprioritize a little bit.”

The city launched a goal in 2018 to build 125 miles of new bikeways by 2023. So far, it says it has completed 103 miles. Among those completed in 2021 and 2022 are:

  • Marion Street Parkway – from Bayaud to Virginia Aves
  • West 23rd Avenue from Federal to Speer Blvd overpass/Fishback Park
  • 18th Street (downtown) from Curtis to Wynkoop
  • 19th Street (downtown) from Wynkoop to Stout
  • West 13th Avenue from Platte River trail to Mariposa Street

Bicycling Magazine projects one million e-bikes will be sold in the United States this year, marking a 240% increase from last year.