Denver’s plan for bicycles is moving faster, but it could still take 18 years

By: Andrew Kenney, Denver Post

Before the 1980s, riding a bicycle to work in Denver was unusual. Cyclists had to contend with unclear laws that kept them off some roads, and bike lanes were nearly nonexistent.

Provided by MediaNews Group d/b/a Digital First Media Madison

Hendrickson, 19, stands in front of her father Scott Hendrickson’s vintage road bike that she and family friend Brad Evans painted to transform into a ghost bike on Tuesday, July 30, 2018. Scott Hendrickson, 60, was killed when he was struck by a vehicle at the intersection of West Bayaud Avenue and South Tejon Street. Hendrickson’s wife, Shelly Hendrickson, said he would ride his bicycle 250 miles per week and had not owned a car since about 2011. A ghost bike is created in honor of a cyclist who was killed while riding.

“If not illegal, it was unusual,” Jeff Shoemaker said.

It was his late father, Joe Shoemaker, who helped to change that: The family has been a driving force in the creation of the region’s greenway network, an interconnected series of paths that runs 100 miles along waterways and gulches.

“That trail system,” Jeff Shoemaker said, “brought bicycles into the forefront in Denver.”

Today, the riverside paths are busy with pedestrians, bicycles and scooters. Denver has seen its population of bicycle commuters nearly double since 2009, to about 8,000 people, according to census figures. And the re-urbanization of downtown Denver has only added to demand.

But beyond the riverbanks, it’s a risky patchwork. Cycling is the first transportation choice for only a small fraction of the city’s residents — and they’re competing with ever-more automobiles for limited road space.

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