DENVER (CBS4) – A white painted "ghost bike" is propped up against a tree along South Marion Parkway and Bayaud Avenue in Denver, with an assortment of flowers, gifts and balloons. The memorial has been there since July, when bicycle riding 37-year-old Alexis Bounds was killed after being hit by a dump truck.
The city wants to make sure her death wasn't in vain. With growing concerns about safety for cyclists in the area, leaders say they will now be adding a protected bike lane by 2020. The existing bike lane is on the outside of the street; the new lane will run along the median with a four-inch curb to create more of a distinction from cyclists and moving cars.
Denver Public Works Public Information Officer Director Nancy Kuhn says this addition is just the beginning of a more detailed project called the Elevate Denver Bond Program. The bond was passed by Denver voters in 2017. It will fund up to 50 of 125 miles of new bikeways, including nine miles of protected bikeways.
"People are going to be seeing a lot more of this, where we're adding protection for bicyclists. We call them high comfort bikeways. Where we provide a buffer between cars and bikes and also some element of separation to protect people on bikes. And it helps people in cars, too," Kuhn said. "Everyone has their space. It provides better predictability and better safety."
The new high comfort bikeways will include a horizontal buffer between cars and bikes as well as vertical separation and green markings that indicate areas on the street such as intersections where bikes and cars may cross each other. City leaders say the goal is to cater to people of all skill levels, as well as to provide people in Denver with other safe and convenient ways to get around town.
Kuhn told CBS4's Mekialaya White that over the past five years, there were a total of 38 vehicle crashes along Marion Parkway, including the incident involving Alexis Bounds. Of the 38 crashes, 7 crashes included a person on a bike and two included a pedestrian.
It's part of a larger problem in Denver.
"We've already lost 64 people this year in Denver on our streets. Some in cars, some on bikes, and we've had pedestrians killed as well. So what people are going to see is a lot more safety treatments on our streets. A lot more that we're doing to slow vehicle speeds, because we know that slowing vehicle speeds not only can we reduce the instances of crashes, but reduce the severity of injuries that occur in crashes," Kuhn added.
Not everyone is in favor of adding the protected bike lane. Some neighbors in the area told CBS4 previously that it will be an eyesore, even calling it "ugly."
The Marion Street Bikeway is one several high comfort bikeways being funded by the Elevate Denver Bond. Here are the others:
S. Marion Street , E. Virginia to E. Bayaud Avenues
Green Valley Ranch Road from Tower to Picadilly Roads
Central Park Boulevard from Montview Boulevard to 36th Avenue
City Park Esplanade from 16th to 17th Avenues
W. 23rd Avenue from Speer to Federal Boulevards
N. Crown Boulevard from E. Albrook Drive to E. 56th Avenue
E. Princeton Avenue from Eastmoor to Tamarac Drives
Clayton Street from 40th to 52nd Avenues
for more features.