Arvada, cyclists work together to stay safe

Bike plan calls for improvements on roads, trails

Posted 9/11/19

It’s been more than eight years since Paul Rodriguez got a flat tire while biking and, hoping to find a solution, walked into The Bicycle Shack — the cycling shop he now co-owns after he accepted …

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Arvada, cyclists work together to stay safe

Bike plan calls for improvements on roads, trails

Posted

It’s been more than eight years since Paul Rodriguez got a flat tire while biking and, hoping to find a solution, walked into The Bicycle Shack — the cycling shop he now co-owns after he accepted a job there fresh out of high school.

The Lakewood resident now bikes to his Arvada shop nearly every day, sticking mostly to Arvada’s trail network, including Ralston Creek Trail, when he’s in the city.

Where the trail represents an efficient route to his shop, some cyclists ride by at dangerously high speeds, creating danger for dog-walkers and other trail-users, he said.

Meanwhile, where the road avoids these conflicts and provides bike lanes on many major streets, “at the end of the day, a little strip of paint may not be enough protection.”

MORE: Safety advocates seek to stop cyclist fatality trend

Mainly, it’s important to be aware of the dangers, he said, and to find ways to promote safety for cyclists.

Lately, the city’s had the same idea. Starting in 2016, city planners began drafting the Arvada Bicycle Master Plan — released in 2017 — as part of an ongoing effort to improve safety and efficiency for Arvada cyclists.

“The big idea was to find ways to connect bicycle facilities already on the streets. There are a lot of places where one piece of the street has a bike lane on it, and the next one doesn’t,” said Wesley Dismore, former city traffic engineer who helped draft the plan. “The vision was for everyone to have the option to get around by bike.”

Arvada offers about 125 miles of off-street trails and 56 miles of on-street bike lanes by the city’s most recent count, said the city’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, Adam Lind.

The master plan identified several of the more dangerous areas for cyclists, many of them roads on which cycling accidents have occurred within the past few years. Most recent of these accidents was a fatal crash that occurred just outside of city limits on Aug. 18 when a 77-year-old man was hit by an SUV while riding his bike on Indiana Street, near the intersection with W. 77th Avenue.

From the beginning of 2017 to Aug. 8, 2019, 54 cycling accidents occurred in Arvada, according to data from the Arvada Police Department.

Seven of the accidents took place on or at an intersection with W. 64th Avenue, making it the street most commonly involved in cycling accidents. Ward Road and Carr Street were the next most common streets for accidents, with three accidents occurring on each street.

The city has been planning to bolster safety on the three roads, naming each of them in the plan’s top 20 bicycle projects list. The list consists of projects planners recommended the city prioritize, especially when future grants and funding come in.

Some projects to improve the network have already gotten underway, Lind said, with the city undertaking two projects to expand or create new bike lanes on Carr Street and Yank Way this year.

Additionally, after gathering community feedback on cycling, planners decided not only to focus on bike lanes but also the city’s trail network, on which many cyclists said they like to travel.

“For them, being able to get to the trails was as or more important than the bike lanes,” Dismore said, “so a lot of the plan has to do with Ralston Creek Trail and how (cyclists) can travel from there to Olde Town.”

Rodriguez agreed, saying he’s noticed more and more are choosing Ralston Creek Trail over the road, with both casual and serious cyclists finding their way onto the trail — and into his shop, located right next to the trail at 16255 W. 64th Ave.

“You’ll get somebody coming in who has a $10,000-bike and you’ll have somebody who hasn’t ridden their bike in 30 years,” he said. “It’s a lot of young families, too.”

With such a range of individuals on their bikes, he emphasized the importance of safety, saying cyclists can take several precautions to keep themselves and others safe.

“Always wear a helmet, even if you’re going 10 minutes down the street, and use some kind of flashing lights,” he said. “Outside of that, it’s just knowing the rules of the road.”

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