May 17th, 2007
Biking in Denver made the news and my life this week. It makes my life most days, so that’s nothing special. And the news isn’t extraordinary — it’s just a column Diane Carman wrote about the difficulties of bicycling in Denver:
Denver has the distinction of being the only city ever to decline in the national ranks for bicycle-friendliness. It came at a time when bicycle sales were through the roof and the mayor’s Greenprint Denver plan boasted a commitment to “urban centers that support walking, biking and mass transit.”
One reason the bike trails are so crowded, said Dan Grunig of Bicycle Colorado, is because many Denver streets lack accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Bike lanes and sidewalks are spotty around town. “Denver hasn’t adopted a complete streets policy” that would make all streets accessible to bicycles, pedestrians and transit as well as cars. “That drives bicycles and pedestrians to the trails,” he said.
The lack of bike lanes gets more noticeable the more you bike on the streets. Last week I was biking, and instead of clinging to the side of the road I started taking the whole lane. Taking the whole lane reduces the chances of a parked car’s door hitting you, and lowers the chances of a car next to you doing the one-two-swipe-step. It doesn’t protect you from cars rear- or front-ending you, but that’s a danger anywhere on the streets.
This technique works even better when you’re riding with a friend — it’s easier to justify taking up the whole lane when there’s another bike next to you. I did this with Sarah on Saturday night down Broadway, a four-lane one-way road. Three people yelled at us, and one other bicycler thanked us. What the people yelling at us didn’t know is that they want the same thing we do:
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