Grace from Denver writes, "I recently had an incident at The Clock Tower on Arapahoe St at the 16th Street Mall. Can you please ask/tell whomever is rezoning bike lanes with parking/loading zones that 1) sidewalks are not loading zones, and 2) there is a giant merge arrow there, and I hope it was for a reason? Exactly where is a person supposed to merge with some right-of-way?"
There is an awkward dance going on right now in downtown Denver where bike lanes merge with traffic, parking spaces, turn lanes, construction zones, broken down vehicles and as you can see from the picture attached to the story, delivery vehicles. There are many opportunities for conflict and typically the bike riders lose out. As the city of Denver adds a bike lane they eventually go back to see how they are working and attempt to correct any problem. Sometimes corrections should be made for delivery vehicles to be able to stop for short periods of time.
As you can see in the Google street view picture, the catering truck is parked in the bike lane and partially on the sidewalk. The area the driver should have parked is between the dashed line and the painted barrier designating the bike lane from traffic. This would force anyone on a bike to ride out of the bike lane for a short time and then get back in after the delivery truck.
Avid downtown bike rider, John Riecke, shared with me several pictures of the same problem during just one of his trips. He saw a delivery vehicle, a semi-truck and even a right of way enforcement van for the City of Denver parked stopped in the protected bike lane.
These conflicts occur more and more as we now have what some are calling the delivery economy where, with just a few clicks, you can have anything and everything dropped off right at your doorstep. The byproduct of that convenience is more delivery trucks needing space to park to get that latest thingamajig to you. Education for delivery drivers would be a good place to start to avoid this mistake in the future.
Denver public works told me, if you see a vehicle parked on the sidewalk or in a bike lane or someone is unloading in a place they shouldn’t, Denver Public Works encourages you to call 311 to report it, and Right of Way Enforcement Agents will make every attempt to respond.
The other major conflict between cars and bikes is all the new construction zones in downtown Denver. These sites encroach, if not fully take over a lane of traffic or what was a bike lane. Denver public works says they are aware of one such project that could be the issue with the merge you mentioned.
“Currently, a large private construction project is underway on 15th Street near Arapahoe, which requires one travel lane to be closed on Arapahoe from 16th to 15th Streets for safety purposes. The merge arrow was added to warn commuters when Arapahoe drops to two lanes along that stretch,” said Heather Burke, Marketing & Communications Specialist with DPW.
I believe that a separated, or even better, an elevated bike lane would be a much safer option for the city to consider, however, it is much less expensive to put down new paint and restripe an existing road than build a new bike lane only infrastructure.
Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 20 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher or Google Play.