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Denver City Council unanimously approves new bike ordinances

BikeDenver is pleased to report that Denver’s City Council approved a bill to amend many sections of the Revised Municipal Code related to bicycling at their November 23 meeting.

The new ordinances take effect on Friday, November 27th. Councilwoman Carla Madison (pictured right) championed the effort to amend City traffic laws related to bicycles to partially conform with new state law, allow speed-restricted riding on sidewalks for the limited purpose of parking, and eliminate obsolete language associated with licensing.  Madison says: “It’s good policy to have state and city law aligned, and it’ll be nice to see people be able to legally ride to park their bike.”   Madison also proposed an amendment approved by the City Council on November 16th that provides a legal way for bicyclists to cross at Cleveland Triangle at the East end of the 16th Street Mall. The amendment states that: “bicycles may be operated on designated routes at any time on that portion of the 16th Street pedestrian and transit mall between the north-west curb line of Cleveland Place and Broadway.”

Councilman Chris Nevitt chaired the City Council Greenprint Committee that worked on the bill.  Nevitt was pleased with the outcome, saying: “This is step one of what I hope will be many more steps that we can take to make Denver a more bike-friendly city.”  BikeDenver Executive Director Piep van Heuven added: “It’s very important that Denver’s laws mirror those recently adopted on the State level that ensure key protections for bicyclists like 3-Feet to Pass.  Synchronizing City code with Colorado’s Bicycle Safety Law will make riding a bike in Denver and operating motor vehicles around bikes in Denver safer for all of us.  We’re also pleased to see City Council so actively involved in the effort to make Denver a safe, convenient and fun place to ride a bike.”

BikeDenver worked for months with stakeholders and councilmembers including Madison and members of the City Council Greenprint Committee to suggest ordinance revisions that would bring Denver in line with State and National standards.  BikeDenver’s van Heuven said: “It was great to see so many interested parties at the table and on the same page.”  Groups and offices involved in the effort included representatives from the Downtown Denver Partnership, the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, Denver City Attorney’s Office, Denver Bike Sharing, Greenprint Denver, Denver Police Department, and the Department of Public Works.

Key Changes to Denver’s Bike Ordinances:

Three Feet to Pass: Language was included to mirror State law requiring that drivers of vehicles provide at least a three-foot separation between the right side of the driver’s vehicle, including all mirrors and projections, and the left side of the bicycle at all times.

Right to Ride on Roadways: Language requiring bicyclists to ride on adjacent pathways if available was eliminated from the City code.  This makes it legal to ride a bike on any Denver roadway, including Speer Boulevard.

Riding to the Right & Bicyclist’s Judgment: Language was amended to allow bicyclists to use their best judgment on how near to the right side of the roadway they should ride. This will encourage bicyclists with differing levels of ability in variable road conditions to ride their bike in the manner that is most safe for the bicyclist.

Riding on Sidewalks for the Purpose of Parking: Denver law will now allow bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk not in excess of 6 miles per hour if they are within one block of the location where they plan to park their bike.

Lamps & Reflectors: Front and rear light requirements were amended to match state requirements.  Front (white) lights must be visible to 500 feet.  Rear (red) reflectors must be visible for 600 feet when illuminated by motor vehicle head lamps.

Next Steps:

Some of the new State laws haven’t been included in Denver’s City Code yet.  BikeDenver anticipates that these items, still under review, will be brought forward in the near future.  Two of the key items are the provision for motorists that allows them to cross the center line when safe to provide the required three-foot passing distance and language specific to bicyclists riding in the left lane on a multi-lane one-way street.

Posted in Bicycle News
8 comments on “Denver City Council unanimously approves new bike ordinances
  1. Sean says:

    Great News.

    It’s good to see Denver getting in line with what the State is doing.

    I would really like to see some public education (for BOTH cyclists and those that drive with cyclists on the road), about how bicycles should be ridden (legally).

    I bike commute year-round, and I would for example, really like to see occasional signs downtown or in key areas around town reminding cyclists to STOP at red lights. Every time one of us blows a red light in front of other cars and pedestrians we’re ultimately making being treated equally that much harder. Also signs identifying the “door-zone” and why it’s important to ride outside of it would be welcome.

    There are other signs and messages as well but as more and more people choose to commute by bike we need to educate EVERYONE using the roads on how share responsibly and safely.

    Thanks to the council getting these laws passed!

  2. Congrats BikeDenver! A very exciting victory for cyclists in Denver. And awesome that this bill had unanimous support!

  3. Pauline Lim says:

    I like the 6 mph on the sidewalk rule. Sensible!

  4. bill fisk says:

    Slow bikes on the sidewalk is great idea. If you can ride a block why not a mile? Some people don’t belong in the road on a bicycle. Why should we endanger them (and other road users)?

    • Paul Seiring says:

      That would be fine if Bicyclists would yield to pedestrians. The bicyclists expect pedestrians to move out their way. They should get off their bicycle and walk around the people walking.

    • Mo says:

      In my neighborhood, there are both residential and commercial properties with doorways opening outward on the sidewalks on Colfax in Park Hill. The Cyclists on sidewalks are a hazard. There is not enough room for pedestrians and those cyclists who are avoiding the road. As are garages are off the alleys, cyclists on the sidewalks create a danger to motorists exiting the alleys blindly. Garages, homes, trees, and businesses block the view. A cyclist barreling along the sidewalk can’t been seen until he is on one’s car hood. I do not favor cyclists on the sideWALK (not sideBIKE). The cycllists don’t obey the stop signs. This is unsafe when there are pedestrians at these blind corners and the cyclist is traveling on the sidewalk intersecting with those walking.

  5. Mo says:

    Bikers need to also remember to always always stop at stop signs and stop light and not roll stops complete stops. Yes you do have to obey stop signs and stop light just like vehicles and you will get ticketed for failing to do so. I hit a biker a couple months ago because she failed to stop at the stop sign and just blew past the stop sign right in front of me and I couldn’t stop. Luckley it only broke her wrist and possibly her arm. She was ticketed for failing to stop and causing an accident. She then thinks it was all my fault even though I had the right of way, no stop signs for me and she the biker doesn’t think she has to stop for any stop signs, stop lights. The cop explictly explained to the biker once at the hospital that it was totally her fault and she caused the accident and cop gave her a big ticket. Rightfully so!! Bikers own up and take responsibility to stop fully at stop signs and stop lights. We don’t want to hear your whining about it takes too long to stop for every stop sign/stop light. Not our problem… If bikers have a problem stopping at stop signs or stop lights take it up with the courts.. Quit your whining and yes it is illegal for bikers to not stop at stop signs and stop lights.

  6. GLENN says:

    A BIKE WEBSITE IS NOT ENOUGH. IT WOULD SEEM OBVIOUS THAT
    PERHAPS A MAJORITY OF BIKERS DO NOT KNOW THE RULES OF
    THE ROAD. OTHERWISE, FAMILIES WHO LOVE THEIR KIDS WOULDN’T RIDE THEM THROUGH STOP SIGNS, RED LIGHTS AND
    ON BUSY SIDEWALKS. MANY OTHERS DON’T ACT LIKE THEY KNOW
    THE RULES AND ARGUE WHEN REMINDED. THE DENVER POST IS DOING A DISSERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY BY NOT PERIODICALLY
    LISTING THE KEY LAWS. WE CONSTANTLY HAVE A NEW CROP OF
    BIKERS GROWING UP. IT IS UNLIKELY THAT MOST BIKERS WILL
    SEEK OUT THE RULES ON A BIKE SITE UNLESS THEY ARE AVID BIKERS

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