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'High Comfort' Bikeways Not Sitting Well With Some Residents

DENVER (CBS4) - A group of Denver residents has started a petition in hopes of preventing the city from modifying bike lanes in their neighborhood. As part of the Elevate Denver Bond Program -- which voters approved in 2017 to enhance roads, parks, sidewalks, public-owned buildings and more -- the city is using $18 million toward the design and construction of 50 miles of bikeways citywide.

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The current bike lanes along Marion Street Parkway, according to Denver Public Works, are among those identified that could benefit from some becoming a "high comfort" bikeway.

"We heard from people that they would be more likely to use the bike lane if it had more of a type of safer protection," Heather Burke, Communications Specialist for Denver Public Works, said. "So what a high comfort bikeway does is it gives a dedicated space on streets for people on bikes, people on cars and prevents conflicts. It gives you a more safe connection to get to parks, schools, transit, places people want to go."

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Among the options the city presented to neighbors during a public meeting last month is the possibility of installing bollards to protect the bike lanes. However, some people who live in the area want the city to pump the brakes on that idea.

"It's really not necessary," Voradel Carey, who has lived on Marion Street Parkway for nearly three decades, said.

Carey told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann the city's proposal would put her neighborhood at risk, threatening the parkways' protected status as a historical landmark.

"That would destroy the beauty of the current parkway and it doesn't go with the Denver design guidelines," she explained, adding she commends the city's goal of creating safe commutes for cyclists.

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"Either leave things how they are," Carey said, "or put it back where it was when I moved here 27 years ago, next to the parkway not between traffic and the parking lane."

Carey is among the more than 100 neighbors, she said, that have signed a petition opposing the city's bike lane project in its current form. It suggests protesters reach out to city officials, including the Mayor's office and Parks and Recreation manager, to modify the "flawed" plan.

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"We are looking at different types of protection options," Burke explained. "Denver Public Works has been coordinating with Denver Parks & Recreation and we'll continue to do that to make sure any type of concept or design we move forward with is in line with those historic requirements."

Burke added this project is still in the early stages and community concerns will be considered before a preferred option is presented in the fall. That's when additional public meetings will take place on the bikeways plan before construction may begin in 2020.

LINKS: Marion St. Parkway PresentationElevate Denver Bond Program

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