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.
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.