The Sad Ending of the Folsom Protected Bike Lanes

Bicyclists and safe street advocates gathered on Sept 30th to mourn the removal of protected bike lanes on Folsom Street and support of safe streets for all users.  On Sept 29th, Boulder City Council unanimously approved early termination of the trial bike lanes. The lanes were installed ten weeks ago with an intended duration of 12-18 months.

Protected bike lanes are one of several infrastructure modifications included in Boulder’s Living Labs program, which seeks innovative ways to reach the city’s long-term transportation goals, including 30% of trips in Boulder made by bicycle by 2035. Over 200 US Cities have successfully installed protected bike lane projects in the past three years. So far only three projects have been removed.   

Metrics that staff and Council identified as indicators of success have all been “trending in the right direction,” according to Kathleen Bracke, Manager of GO Boulder. Yet Council member Lisa Morzel has been advocating since August that the project be scaled back. On Thursday September 29th, city staff made the same proposal, recommending early removal of the southern half of the project—in a meeting closed to public comment—and circumventing normal procedures in bypassing its own citizens’ Transportation Advisory Board.

A council election in November, the local newspaper’s interest in stoking controversy, and vehement reactions from a “green” city’s motoring public led to a perfect storm that doomed a safer street for bikes, pedestrians, and vehicles.

“It is the job of those who lead our cities to provide safe places for our most vulnerable,” said Sue Prant, Community Cycles Executive Director. “On our streets those are people who walk and ride bikes. Tonight some of them gathered for a peaceful, rather joyous action of unity. All those leaders who are working to make a better city, we know it’s hard and we appreciate all you do, but you are on notice- people who walk and ride bikes are part of this city, too and they have found their voice.”

Next Steps

  • Community Cycles will be working on prioritizing bicycling infrastructure improvements in Boulder.  Go Boulder was instructed to present their recommendations for improvements for second quarter 2016.
  • November is election month for the Boulder City Council.  Vote for Pro-Bike candidates!

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