Gary Harty has been a champion for Lakewood’s cycling community. The long time Lakewood resident started the Lakewood Bicycle Advisory Team, a group promoting safe, efficient and equitable …
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Gary Harty has been a champion for Lakewood’s cycling community. The long time Lakewood resident started the Lakewood Bicycle Advisory Team, a group promoting safe, efficient and equitable transportation for people in Lakewood. He also brought the Cycling Without Age program to the city, a service that sees volunteers give seniors rides on three-wheeled bikes called trishaws. The bikes have a couchlike seat in front of them for two people to sit on.
Last October, Harty was riding to the Residences at Creekside senior housing facility to take seniors on rides on a trishaw.
“I didn’t make the ride,” said Harty who described being hit by a driver who ran a stop sign in an automobile. Harty, who rides his bike everyday and uses it as primary transportation, couldn’t ride his bike for a month after the accident.
MORE: Safety advocates seek to stop cyclist fatality trend
Lakewood is working on improving its bicycle connectivity, and a big part of that goal involves its Bicycle System Master Plan, adopted in 2018. The plan aims to create educational materials and programs that reach all residents, foster and build a culture that celebrates cycling as an active mode of transportation, improve safety for bicyclists and establish a connected bicycle network that allows residents to cycle to where they live, work and play.
According to the Bicycle System Master Plan, Lakewood has around 141 miles of shared use paths, 110 bike lane miles and 22 miles of signed shared roadways.
“We have some roads that have good bicycle infrastructure, but they’re not continuous. We have a lot more needs than we have money allocated for it, so we’re getting the higher priority routes,” said Mike Whiteaker, Lakewood’s transportation engineer. He says an example of a route Lakewood has recently worked on took place at Yale and Wadsworth where the city repurposed the pavement to connect some bike lanes in the area.
Lakewood resident Brad Evans started Denver Cruisers more than 10 years ago, a group of people who ride their bikes together throughout Denver monthly with each ride usually involving a costume theme. He say’s Lakewood has made a positive step forward with bicycle infrastructure, but he doesn’t think there’s a protected network in the city, just like other municipalities, which he says are car centric.
“There’s motorists, there’s bicyclists, then there’s the city politicians and planners. The government is the third wheel in all that,” said Evans, talking about the safety of cyclists in general, not just in Lakewood. “We keep blaming motorists and cyclists, but it’s on the municipalities to be the one to figure it out.”
Lakewood Police Spokesperson John Romero says the city has had one cyclist fatality in the past year, which took place in March near 14th and Wadsworth.
Harty says the Lakewood Bicycle Advisory Team has been recently searching for routes that can connect resident cyclists to places in Lakewood.
“We’ve been thinking about how to get more people to ride. The concern most people have is getting hit by an automobile,” said Harty. “Unless you have a lot of experience, a lot of people aren’t willing to take that risk.”
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