Surveys about metropolitan development and road use often indicate that people in Colorado want more bike lanes. However, whenever the city of Denver announces expansions to the existing bike lanes, such proclamations are almost always greeted with intense pushback from a small but vocal segment of the population.
Common complaints about bike lanes often involve the cost of repainting the road, impacts on parking and the potential effect on local businesses. Whenever Denver tries to add a bike lane to an area previously without such safety infrastructure, vocal opposition pops up. Why are people so upset about a potential bike lane?
Complaints about street changes aren’t always as simple as they seem
When someone starts to organize a pushback against changes to the local roadways, you would probably assume that they live in the area directly affected by the changes. However, many times, that is not the case.
It is often businesses and those with a financial interest in a community that resist changes. For example, a gentleman spearheading a recent opposition movement to the addition of a bike lane that would remove one lane of on-street parking cited the inconvenience to the disabled and the elderly as his primary concern. However, it turns out that he actually owned six rental properties in the area where on-street parking would change.
Reporters noted that almost every single-family home in the affected area had an off-street garage for resident parking. In other words, he would be one of the only people adversely affected, and the concern was about his ability to attract tenants and how much they would pay. Studies have shown that adding bike lanes can benefit a neighborhood, especially if there are small shops and businesses.
Bike lanes are critical for cyclists’ safety
For the most part, people in Denver and beyond recognize that bike lanes keep cyclists safe and are a necessary part of the way that the community reimagines itself as it continues to develop.
After all, cyclists get hurt more severely than those in enclosed vehicles when a crash occurs. They have minimal protection from the force of the collision, which leads to the potential for catastrophic injuries. Bike lanes create more space for cyclists and also help remind drivers that they must share the road with those on bikes.