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Montbello residents say new bike lanes are raising new safety concerns

Montbello bike lane.jpg
Posted at 4:34 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 19:59:16-04

DENVER – The City of Denver recently installed new protected bike lanes along Andrews Drive in the Montbello neighborhood. But some community members say even though the bike lanes are meant to improve safety, the lane's design is creating the opposite effect.

“We worked for three years to try to develop a bicycle lane in our community, and they finally are getting installed but we're very unhappy with this design,” said Pam Jiner, executive director of Montbello Walks. “This happens to be a design that we had never seen before, we did not approve, and it's causing a lot of trouble for the community.”

The goal of Montbello Walks is to get more residents to walk and bike around the neighborhood. Jiner says the organization advocated for the bike lanes so that residents could reach that goal safely, but the lanes have raised new safety concerns.

“We never saw a design like this,” Jiner said. “It's very hard to turn onto this street if you're coming from the side streets… There's no way for cars to back up if a car stalls on this street now. The residents who live facing this street, they're not sure whether they're supposed to park in the bubble or out of the bubble.”

Jiner says the parking confusion has led to several residents receiving $65 parking fines. She says the city needs to make some design changes.

Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) spokesperson Vanessa Lacayo says her department is aware that some residents find the bike lane's design confusing.

“The bike lane, the wave configuration, is a little new for this community," Lacayo said. "I think it's going to be important for us to continue the dialogue that we started with them when we completed the northeast plan in 2019 and continue that dialogue to help them understand here are the areas that you can park, here's what's open, here's what's available."

Lacayo says the city agreed with residents that the original design of the street posed safety concerns for bicyclists and pedestrians.

“We took data from 2017 to 2019, and we had roughly a little more than 430 incidences involving pedestrians and bicyclists, and so that was concerning for us,” Lacayo said.

Lacayo says to ensure that the bike lanes do improve traffic safety in the area, city leaders plan to help the community understand how to use the bike lanes effectively. But Lacayo says her department is also open to feedback.

“DOTI cannot do this in a silo. We have to work with the community, and we have to be able to meet them where they're at,” Lacayo said.

Jiner says she’s appreciative of the fact that city leaders listened the community and put the bike lanes in, but says she needs city leaders' ears once again to make sure improved safety is, in fact, the end result.

DOTI employees and Montbello Walks members will meet Tuesday afternoon to tour the bike lanes, discuss best practices and future improvements.