Electric bikes and scooters are now kosher on Denver’s park trails. So are speed traps (still).

Cyclists speed by Denver Parks and Recreation's safety booth on the Cherry Creek Trail, May 16, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Cyclists speed by Denver Parks and Recreation's safety booth on the Cherry Creek Trail, May 16, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photos

Speed traps aren’t just for drivers, apparently.

On Thursday morning, Denver park ranger Eric Knopinski pointed a bleeping radar gun at people biking on the Cherry Creek Trail, hoping to slow their roll.

“A lot of them have no idea that there’s a speed limit down here,” Knopinski said.

But there is. Denver’s park trails have a 15 mph speed limit, though it’s not often enforced. Rangers have given only 35 citations in nearly three years, most of them at Washington Park, according to Denver Parks and Recreation. Knopinski said he mostly gives warnings.

It’s no longer just the Spandex-clad set Lance Armstrong-ing down the trail, and Denver Parks and Recreation is reacting.

The proliferation of electric bikes, scooters and skateboards has meant more people moving with more gusto — without being slowed down by pesky cardiovascular limitations.

Denver Parks and Recreation park ranger Eric Knopinski checks cyclists' speeds on the Cherry Creek Trail, May 16, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver Parks and Recreation park ranger Eric Knopinski checks cyclists' speeds on the Cherry Creek Trail, May 16, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver Parks and Recreation park ranger Eric Knopinski checks cyclists' speeds on the Cherry Creek Trail, May 16, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver Parks and Recreation park ranger Eric Knopinski checks cyclists' speeds on the Cherry Creek Trail, May 16, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

In response to the popularity of the zippy micro-machines, Denver Parks and Recreation has made them legal for 180 days while they figure out how people powered by different means interact.

The park ranger was stationed on the trail not just to catch speeders, but to observe and tell people about the new rules, Parks and Rec spokeswoman Cyndi Karvaski said.

Parks and Rec is following in the footsteps of Denver Public Works, which legalized the electronic transport options on streets and in bike lanes.

Fast or careless bicyclists can endanger people on trails, though there’s no injury data on how much.

Park ranger Knopinski said most crashes involving bicyclists and pedestrians happen when people enter the traffic stream, often down fast ramps, without yielding. People stopping abruptly on the trail is another problem.

“(Enforcement) is about safety as well as the fact that there are rules, and we want people to abide by those rules,” Karvaski said. “There are walkers, people with strollers on the trail. It’s common courtesy.”

Denverite solicited takes from the hot-take machine known as Twitter. Most said speeding bicyclists are not the menace to society compared to drivers operating two-ton combustible machines.

Yesterday at Sunken Gardens Park, directly above where the ranger stood, safe streets advocates held a walk and ride of silence to remember people killed by drivers while traveling on Denver’s streets. Since 2005, no one has killed someone else by pedaling too fast in Denver, according to DPD. (Going back further is difficult because of an antiquated database.) Also, drivers endanger trail users by flipping over the Cherry Creek Trail wall, which is not that uncommon.

“A holistic approach to trail safety issues makes sense – education, signage, a focus on a variety of safety issues (like blocking the trail, off-leash pets, etc.),” wrote Piep van Heuven, Bicycle Colorado’s Denver director. “‘Speed traps’ is like jumping right in at DEFCON 1. A more respectful approach would create a respectful culture.”

Cyclists speed by Denver Parks and Recreation's safety booth on the Cherry Creek Trail, May 16, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Cyclists speed by Denver Parks and Recreation's safety booth on the Cherry Creek Trail, May 16, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Streetsblog Denver editor Andy Bosselman wrote, “I’m a cyclist but I also run on the trails. While running, I’ve had many close calls with cyclists nearly clipping me at high speeds. I definitely support some enforcement.”

Parks and Rec will hold nine pop-up events through June 9 at park trails throughout the city to hear from the public about how the trails are working and observe for themselves. But also a ranger may bring a radar gun.

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