Denver Mayor Michael Hancock took some time to check out The Bike Depot, a non-profit bike shop in Park Hill where I work. Mr. Hancock arrived with his entourage and press-corps, took a quick tour of the shop, shook a few hands and was on his way down the block. Although there was no time to ask questions, this surface visit does beg two about the future of biking in Denver. Before I do that I will say that Mayor Hancock has participated in Bike to Work Day the last few years and backed the Denver City Councils focus on pedestrian/Bicycle Safety in their next budget proposal. But let’s get into some important issues:
1. Are there going to be ACTUAL separated bike lanes, especially downtown? The 15th Street Bike Lane was an awesome addition for biking downtown but there are still opportunities for car traffic to creep into the lane. Creating less interface between cars and bicycles is good for everyone. It improves traffic flow, encourages bicycle commuting and cuts down on accidents. It is also a commitment by a city to its cyclists, and when a city does this it instantly gives cyclists credibility and respect from drivers.
2. Will there be any money put into educating motor vehicle drivers? There are bad bicyclists and there are bad drivers. The difference is that bicyclists aren’t moving a metal box that weighs over a thousand pounds at high speeds. The bottom line is that car drivers need to wake up and realize that if they hit a bicyclist or pedestrian they could scar, maim or kill that individual. If the opposite occurs there might be some scratches on the paint. Or blood. It would be great to see city and state government emphasize this when someone wants to renew their drivers license. Or, maybe create a state-wide ad campaign that is catchy, visible and straightforward about the reality of the situation. Whatever way we can improve the relationship between cars and bicyclists should take priority when city funds are being given to the task. Denver is a mecca for Millennials, and Millennials are driving less and biking more than ever. If drivers aren’t made to take bicycle commuting seriously, no friendly visits from the Mayor will ever make up for a dead or maimed cyclist.