Thirteenth Avenue is an important connector of east and west Denver. But it’s not a safe, pleasant or fun place to ride a bike — unless you like cruising a bumpy industrial thoroughfare or riding pinned between a row of parked cars and a lane of moving cars traveling at high speeds.
The status quo is about to change.
Crews with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure have started building protected bike lanes on 13th from Lincoln Street to the Platte River Trail. Riders will feel more comfortable because the lanes are protected, meaning curbs and vertical posts (like other existing bike lanes) will separate them from traffic, said Sam Piper, a transportation planner with DOTI.
The one-way section of 13th will have a bike lane on the right side, while the two-way section will get lanes on both sides. Once the lanes are finished, people on bikes will be able to ride more safely from the edge of Capitol Hill, through Civic Center and La Alma/Lincoln Park to the edge of Sun Valley.
Fourteenth Avenue will see its bike lane extended. The street already has one from Speer Boulevard to Civic Center Park, but DOTI will extend the lane west to Mariposa Street.
“The argument for 13th and 14th is a critical, high-profile facility because it’s providing the first connection to the Sun Valley neighborhood,” Piper said. “That’s the first protected facility west of downtown. We really want to prioritize safe and comfortable routes to all of our neighborhoods. This is a gap that’s existed for a long time and it’s going to be resolved through this project.”
Thirteenth will also see one travel lane repurposed for the bike lanes, meaning driver will see a reduction of one lane, from three lanes to two. The street is currently too wide for the number of cars it carries, Piper said, citing a traffic study that found delays for drivers would amount to a matter of seconds, not minutes.
The road diet and bikeway will not only calm driving speeds that increase the severity of crashes, but Piper said it will also shorten crossings for people walking. Pedestrians will have fewer lanes of cars to cross.
“We’re making a safer street for everyone,” he said.
Both projects, which are currently under construction, are funded with money from a 2017 voter-approved bond measure. Crews will finish installing the lanes this fall.