Virginia Village could get a bike lane connecting cyclists to two major corridors

The bike lane would run along Jewell Avenue from South Bellaire Street to South Oneida Street.
4 min. read
Jewell Avenue in Virginia Village, Feb. 4, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Virginia Village residents sounded mostly enthused during a Tuesday night meeting about a proposed bike lane on Jewell Avenue to connect the area with two major corridors in the city's southeast corner.

Denver's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure presented early designs and traffic data during a meeting at Ellis Elementary School and asked for comments form locals. The proposed bike lane would be unprotected -- just painted strips -- and run along both sides of Jewell Avenue from South Bellaire Street to South Oneida Street. More than 20 people showed up.

The bike lane would connect to the Cherry Creek trail and Cook Park to the east, and a pedestrian bridge over I-25 to the west which runs into the Colorado Boulevard and I-25 RTD station. The completed bike lane would look similar to ones installed along East Florida Avenue in 2018.

Residents write notes on a print out showing a proposed bike lane along Jewell Avenue during a meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 4, in southeast Denver. (Esteban L. Hernandez/Denverite)

Sam Piper, a senior planner with the streets department, said the proposed infrastructure would fill a gap in the city's bike network.

"What we always want to talk about bike projects is they're not just about bikes ... we think that we can make this a safer street for all modes of transportation," Piper said.

The proposed lane is part of Mayor Michael Hancock's commitment to expanding city bike lanes by 125 miles by 2023.

Piper said this street has been a bike lane candidate for 10 years.

It's been identified in multiple city planning documents, including the updated Blueprint Denver plan.

The city recommended a conventional striped lane without vertical barriers because it would be on a residential street with a relatively low traffic volume. Crews would likely stripe the lane when they pave the street this summer or fall, transportation planning director Jennifer Hillhouse said.

Margaret Talbott lives nearby and commutes to work in Glendale on a bike. She was happy with the way the proposal was put together, which included identifying potential concerns and giving residents a heads up on when the meeting was taking place.

"I think that the idea of linking the various pieces of our bike-friendly city together is really important," Talbott said. "As a bicycle commuter, I like the idea of having options to get in and out of my neighborhood."

Tyler Larson supports adding the bike lane on a corridor he said needs more bike improvements. He lives on Jewell Avenue and bikes in the neighborhood pretty often.

"Living on Jewell and the amount of bike traffic that I see commuting to and from work every day is substantial and recognizable, to the point that having a bicycle facility is needed," Larson said.

Adding the lane would mean eliminating parking on the majority of the street, which is lined with driveways. About 10 percent of the street is used for parking during peak times, Piper said.

Morgan Churchill, Larson's partner, lives near the pedestrian bridge near the highway. She sees the new bike lane as providing some traffic-calming in an area she thinks is quickly expanding.

She thinks it'll make things safer for cyclists. The city found three reported car-pedestrian crashes on the corridor over the past five years; there were no reported bike crashes.

"Biking on Jewell is pretty scary," Churchill said. "Considering it's not a super high traffic area, people still drive pretty quickly and it does see quite a bit of flow in traffic. Our neighborhood is definitely getting bigger, there's new houses getting built, so traffic in the area is probably going to be increasing."

The city will host another meeting with recommended changes based on feedback received Tuesday.

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