Residents are becoming concerned about bike safety, both on sidewalks and paths. “I’ve noticed there are quite a few people who don’t have the awareness of the rules and even basic bike etiquette,” says Stapleton resident Janet Miskowicz, who has been biking for 25 years.
She bikes and walks around Stapleton nearly every day, and has observed a growing number of cyclists in recent years, including kids, some of whom ride very fast on sidewalks. According City regulations, it is illegal to ride on sidewalks unless it is a designated bike route, within one block of parking, or part of a newspaper delivery route.
While walking, Miskowicz has noticed bikers frequently do not warn pedestrians or other bikers before passing. She has had close calls pulling in her dog leash due to little or no warning from bikers.
City regulations say bikers need to give ample warning to pedestrians. But, pedestrians have to be paying attention, says Doug Mendelson, who has been biking in Stapleton for 13 years.
Mendelson is most concerned about bike safety on paths or multi-use trails that, unlike sidewalks, are legal to ride on (Westerly Creek, greenways, etc.). He says people wander all over the paths with kids and dogs. “They’re mostly talking on their phone and barely ever look both ways before crossing…People seem to be obsessed with the dang thing and not paying attention to anything else.”
At times he’s seen people set down their bikes on paths, not expecting other riders to need to pass. When he’s passing a pedestrian he says, “On the left.” He’s noticed many people think that means to go to the left.
Mendelson suggests 10 rules for bike safety: Stay to the right side of the path; do not block the path with yourself or your stroller, bike, etc.; look both ways before crossing or moving across a path; be alert and cognizant of your surroundings and not distracted by a phone; “on the left” means move to the right; teach by example; and be aware of bikers’ body language to understand where they might go next.
Contention between cyclists and pedestrians at Wash Park led to divided lanes. “I would hate for us to get that legalistic about it,” Miskowicz says. “I would love for us to be a community.”
The Northeast Transportation Connections (NETC—previously called the Stapleton Area Transportation Management Association) encourages safe use of alternatives to driving, including biking, walking, carpooling, carsharing and using public transit in Stapleton, Park Hill, E. Montclair, and NW Aurora neighborhoods. State bike laws, bike maps, safe routes to school, rules of the road, and more resources are available at StapletonTMA.com. NETC also continues to run The Hub, a community bike library, cop shop and resource center located behind Cycleton in the Stapleton Town Center.
Upcoming NETC events include: Community walking trip from Park Hill to Union Station, 9am to 2pm on Sept. 6; Stapleton Rocks, 12pm to 10pm on Sept. 6, a full-day benefit concert with outdoor games, rock climbing and a bungee trampoline; Bikes For Life, 9am to 2pm on Sept. 6, offering bike mechanics, skills courses and more to get people biking and feeling confident riding in Denver. For information or bike resources, visit StapletonTMA.com.