Cyclist says Lone Tree leaves riders flat

Infrastructure limits flexibility to add lanes, city says

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City surveys show residents love Lone Tree, but one group doesn’t share that sentiment. Cyclists view Lone Tree, whose major thoroughfares lack bike lanes, as a thorn in the sides of their jerseys.

“The City of Lone Tree is generally viewed by anybody on a bike as an impediment,” cyclist and Lone Tree resident Todd McCusker told the city council during its June 4 work session. Cyclists easily can ride through adjacent Parker and Highlands Ranch, he said, but “not in Lone Tree, if you don’t want to take your life in your own hands.”

The criticism is not news to Lone Tree’s leaders, who say they’re physically restrained from adding the lanes in many areas. Though Lone Tree is only a teenager, problem streets like Lincoln Avenue were built well before its 1995 incorporation.

“The county started a lot of this,” Mayor Jim Gunning said. “We have service gaps in the community that were structurally built in, a long time before we became Lone Tree. If we’d started this community from the ground up today, it would be different.”

Lincoln Avenue boasts wide sidewalks on both sides, but doesn’t have a designated bike lane, making it difficult to ride east and west between Parker and Highlands Ranch. Streets in the relatively new RidgeGate development also lack bike lanes.

The city plans to add 6-foot-wide bike lanes to some of its wide side streets, which will help families and children. That doesn’t help McCusker or his riding buddies.

“I love the stuff that’s going on, but the low-mile-per-hour streets were not my concern,” he said. “I can’t even ride my bike to the rec center on the weekend because the traffic is too much.”

He asked the city to “at least stop building roads” without bike lanes.

“It is a quality of life issue,” he said. “I recognize what I’m asking for is huge and expensive, (but) I believe Lone Tree could flip the scales and become an example of creative, mixed-mode transportation.”

Four-lane Lincoln isn’t an easy fix. Its driving lanes can’t be narrowed without violating the traffic code, and the land flanking it already is developed.

“We just don’t have the infrastructure to support it,” Gunning said. “I think everybody up here knows Lincoln is a barrier. It’s not going to get less (so).”

Bike lanes aren’t the city’s only transit challenge. Pedestrians long have complained about the difficulty of crossing Lincoln north and south. Past ballot measures to fund a tunnel under Lincoln failed, though Gunning said the future construction of a light rail bridge over the street might clear the way for a multi-modal overpass.

“We’ll do the best we can to see where we can do things into the future,” Gunning said. “It always stays on the radar because it’s important to us.”

Public Works Director John Cotten said slower, family-variety riders and road cyclists present different challenges.

“We’re kind of looking at it as two-part thing,” he said. “We’re never going to make everyone happy, but we are going to try and create a way for the majority of people to be able to get where they want to go.”