Boulder evaluates right-sizing streets to encourage biking and walking

The City of Boulder’s “Go Boulder” organization is seeking input on right-sizing car-centric corridors to improve biking, walking, and motorist safety. I ask the transportation advisory board and city council to support these changes.

Here are the “Complete Street” corridors the city will evaluate:

Map of Boulder potential right-sizing streets
Map of Boulder potential right-sizing streets

Iris Avenue Conditions

I want to analyze the current conditions of one of these roads I bike on ~500 times per year (approximately twice every workday), Iris Avenue in North Boulder. On Saturday, May 2nd, I spent an hour photographing the corridor.

Iris’ bike lanes are in disrepair where vehicles routinely drive over the bike lanes.


The current bike lane design includes areas that dangerously squeeze cyclists, as demonstrated by how vehicles have removed the bike lane paint from the road.

Car drivers routinely drive in the bike lanes.

The width of the lanes vary, from as wide as 4.5 feet in some places, to just over three feet (39”) on the northwest side of the corner.

This portion of the bike lane is only 39″ wide.

Right-Sizing Our Streets

Here’s a comparison image between the current street and a mock-up provided by Go Boulder:

Here is a street-view comparison of how the corridor might change. The bike lanes could increase from the current 3-4 feet to 5-6 feet with 2-3 feet of buffer zone.


iris-ave-right-size (3)

Iris is one of the few East/West bike corridors but it’s used significantly less by bikes than other thoroughfares in the city. A Strava heat map (based on recreational cyclists who use Strava) shows its use versus surrounding corridors:

strava heatmap iris

The Urgency of Improving Our Streets

Boulder has had a strong history of biking and walking, and now has the opportunity to make those amenities accessible to a much larger part of the population. Here are a few reasons to do so:

  • To give residents and their families safe, economical options to move around the city
  • To reduce the need or desire to drive when taking short trips through town or to downtown
  • To improve safety for motorists by reducing the speed in these corridors and adopt a safer lane configuration
  • To design streets that work better for more people at all times of day rather than focusing on only rush-hour or peak traffic periods
  • To align with the vision set forth in the Transportation Master Plan relating to mode share, energy, and vehicle use

The demand for bike infrastructure exists. We need to provide safe spaces that are equitable for all users of the road.

A woman rides with her child on the sidewalk because the bicycle lanes are not safe.


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