Biking in Lakewood? Watch out for these 10 dangerous intersections

OK, do you want the good news or the bad news about bike-involved crashes in Lakewood?
6 min. read
The Intersection of Wadsworth and 5th. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) wadsworth and 5th; dangerous intersections; denver; denverite; kevinjbeaty; lakewood; colorado;

The Intersection of Wadsworth and 5th. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

OK, do you want the good news or the bad news about bike-involved crashes in Lakewood?

The good news is that there are fewer than in Denver. The bad news is that's because there aren't as many people biking.

"I think we have fewer bikes and usually they're going with the flow of traffic," said Lakewood's Principal Traffic Engineer Matt Duncan.

But in looking at dangerous intersections, it's important to remember what people were actually doing there. And Duncan notes there were also a lot of behaviors that influenced collisions between cars and bikes. Of those 1,866 collisions in Lakewood from 2011 to 2014, here are some common causes:

  • 820 collisions at night
  • 300 alcohol or drug related collisions
  • 200-50 collisions where the driver was distracted by passenger
  • 220 drivers distracted by texts or the radio
  • 50 asleep drivers
  • 31 medical emergencies
  • 14 people fleeing police were involved in a crash

So as with pedestrian-involved collisions, not everything can be fixed with a better design.

So how's the experience for cyclists? Lakewood resident and Bicycle Colorado Policy Director Ted Heyd shared his experience. Heyd describes himself as more of a recreational cyclist who rides on city streets about twice or three times a month to run errands. In some cases, Duncan, the city traffic engineer, had additional relevant information included.

10. West Colfax Avenue and Garrison Street, 4 collisions, 1 car at fault

Heyd's take: "Garrison is a major North-South thoroughfare for bicycling in Lakewood. It's one of the primary bicycling routes. It has on-street lanes for most of the segment you're talking about."

"I have ridden it, would take it certainly as a means of getting up to Colfax. ... That would definitely be a preferred route."

9. West 14th Avenue and Wadsworth Boulevard, 4 collisions, 2 cars at fault

Heyd's take: "From what I remember, that's a pretty desirable route. If you were to ride it, it would give you pretty good access to the Lakewood-Wadsworth station. But Wadsworth, obviously being a much higher volume, much higher stress facility, one would take extra precaution crossing the street."

"I'd be much more inclined to take 13th and Wadsworth because that's the D10 trail that goes immediately adjacent to the W line."

Has he ridden it though? No.

City traffic engineering: "That intersection has been rebuilt, so the signals are more visible, we put the flashing yellow lights in the yellow. "

8.West 1st Avenue and Wadsworth Boulevard, 4 collisions, 2 cars at fault

Heyd's take: "Don't know that one, haven't ridden it."

My take instead: Not the first or last time that Wadsworth appears on this list. Not to mention Colfax and Sheridan. I'm reminded of the arguments against urban highways and how multi-lane roads can be more fatal for cyclists.

7. West Alameda Avenue and South Pierce Street, 4 collisions, 3 cars at fault

Heyd's take: "Alameda is a major arterial, so certainly higher level of stress in terms of crossing. But the important part is Pierce, where you have bike lanes on the Southern side."

"So for north-south connections, it's really important and I think its proximity to Belmar is really important too because that's a major employer."

6. West Colfax Avenue and Quail Street, 4 collisions, 3 cars at fault

Heyd's take: "Quail is definitely a desirable route because I believe it has bike lanes on both sides of the street and it ties into the Oak Street light rail station right there. That is actually a route that I would prefer to take if I was getting to the oak street light rail station. Crossing Colfax, not a major deterrent. Obviously you have to be a little more heads-up, given the volumes."

Has he ridden it though? No.

5. West Cedar Drive and South Union Boulevard, 4 collisions, 4 cars at fault

Heyd's take: "So there are sidewalks on both side of Cedar and sidewalks on Union, but no bicycle facilities on either one. I would say as far as intersections go, it's a very busy street. It's similar to Pierce and Alameda, there are signals and marked crosswalk but it feels like there's a lot of exposure and no distinct protections for bicycles."

4. West 8th Avenue and Simms Street, 5 collisions, 4 cars at fault
Heyd's take: "I know that intersection, but I haven't ridden it very much. One of the issues is that you have cars coming downhill. Simms doesn't have any on-street bicycle facilities and I think the closest thing to it is a separated sidewalk on both sides of the street.

"Not my ideal on street bicycling environment, but I would go there on my bike. I would be inclined to use the sidewalk versus the on-street lane."

3. West Colfax Avenue and Kendall Street, 5 collisions, 5 cars at fault

Heyd's take: "I don't recall ever riding that intersection, but it's not one that I would intentionally avoid. I think Kendall's probably a pretty approachable street, low volume, low speed. I wouldn't shy away from that intersection if I had something to do down there."

2. West 7th Avenue and Denver West Colorado Mills Boulevard, 6 collisions, 3 cars at fault

Heyd's take: "Yeah, I don't have anything to say about this one."

My take instead: This doesn't look like a fun area to bike at all. There is a nearby mall, which could draw some residents out and up the street to watch a movie or maybe to work. But you've also got Highway 6 and Interstate 70 nearby, which could plausibly mean higher speeds as drivers exit the highway.

Bicyclists were at fault in half of the collisions, but I wonder how much time they got to cross the 10 lanes of traffic here. Maybe this is a good area for further study since four of the six collisions happened since 2014.

1. West 5th Avenue and Wadsworth Boulevard, 6 collisions, 5 cars at fault
The Intersection of Wadsworth and 5th. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Heyd's take: "I know the interchange well, I've traveled it mostly by car. With the diamond-cloverleaf, you have a lot of potential for conflict with cyclists."

Heyd says he doesn't see cyclists often at this intersection.

Methodology notes:

Just like in the dangerous bicycling intersections of Denver, data from 2011 to 2016 was used to calculate which intersections are the most dangerous.

Lakewood Police keep their data a bit differently, so to break ties among intersections, I considered whether the police said the pedestrian was at fault or not. If there were fewer pedestrians at fault, but the same number of accidents, that was deemed more dangerous. In the event of a double tie, I considered how recently the accidents occurred.

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