Denver Moves: Neighborhood Bikeways

Neighborhood bikeways are low-volume, low-speed streets designed to prioritize people who are biking, walking, and rolling by using design elements such as signage, pavement markings, speed and/or volume reduction features, and crossing improvements. They are also sometimes called bicycle boulevards or neighborhood greenways.

This type of bikeway, with low vehicle traffic volumes and speeds where bicyclists and drivers share the road, are designed to give bicycle travel priority and have been successfully installed and used in cities across the U.S., including, Portland, OR, Minneapolis, MN, Seattle, WA, Boulder, CO and Fort Collins, CO.

Benefits of Neighborhood Bikeways

  • Comfort: Provide a comfortable shared street environment for people of all ages and abilities to get around
  • Safety: Slow motor vehicle speeds, improve the safety and convenience of road crossings, and create safe pathways for students to walk to school
  • Wayfinding and connectivity: Help people cycling, walking, and rolling to find their way, remind cars to share the road, and improve connectivity to popular destinations
  • Sustainability: Promote transportation methods other than driving, decrease pollution from emissions, and improve air quality

Watch this video to learn more about Neighborhood Bikeways in Denver.

Elements of Neighborhood Bikeways

Separated or protected bike lanes are not generally necessary along neighborhood bikeways because the street design itself creates a calm traffic environment that promotes multimodal transportation. They may contain design elements such as:

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ including sections on Neighborhood Bikeways and Traffic Circles.

Neighborhood Bikeways

Why not focus on installing and improving dedicated bicycle lanes instead of installing neighborhood bikeways?

Many people already feel most comfortable bicycling and riding scooters on low volume neighborhood streets. Our goal is to make those neighborhood streets part of a formal network for people bicycling and riding scooters by helping those riders cross major streets, directing them with signs to different destinations and connecting bikeways, ensuring drivers know to expect bicycle and scooter riders, and most importantly, further slowing and reducing car traffic.

You can read more about these types of bikeways and the national standards and recommendations that exist for them in the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, nationally accepted guidance for designing urban streets for people walking and bicycling.

Will you be adding bike lane symbols to the street to visualize where bikers are encouraged to ride?

Yes, DOTI will be adding shared lane bike symbols to the neighborhood bikeway corridors that indicate where bicyclists should ride.

Why is on-street parking no longer allowed near intersections where traffic circles and curb extensions have been installed?

DOTI’s intersection improvements, such as traffic circles and curb extensions, are designed to both reinforce an existing parking ordinance (No. 54-458) regarding how close you allowed to park to any Denver intersection (20' from a stop sign or crosswalk) and provides additional distance for people driving, bicycling, and walking to see each other and navigate these intersections.  This ensures people walking, bicycling, or driving have more time to see and react to each other.

Traffic Circles

What are traffic circles?

Traffic circles are neighborhood bikeway traffic calming measures used at intersections where there isn’t already all-way stop control. The purpose of traffic circles is to slow people in vehicles approaching the intersection. They are also effective when used with other calming measures like pavement markings and yield signs. We also consider corner curb extensions or splitter islands to further reduce speeds.

The traffic circles and other traffic calming devices are also used on Neighborhood Bikeways to disincentivize non-local vehicular traffic along a roadway to keep traffic volumes and speeds along the roadway lower. DOTI worked with the community to designate specific roadway segments as Neighborhood Bikeways or “slow streets” to provide a more comfortable facility for those people walking and bicycling.  

Everyone who encounters these new elements on our streets should be extra cautious as drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and scooter riders alike adjust to navigating them.

How were the locations chosen for the traffic circles?

We typically place traffic circles along neighborhood bikeway corridors in residential areas on local streets where daily vehicle volumes are less than ~2,000. The speeds and volumes on these streets don’t necessitate stop signs or lights, but traffic calming measures can help slow vehicle speeds and reduce volumes.

How do I make a left turn at an intersection with a traffic circle?

When approaching any intersection with a yield sign, such as those around Denver’s traffic circles, drivers, bicyclists, and those riding scooters should yield or stop to give the right-of-way to anyone – vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists - in the intersection or those who arrived first at the intersection. As a reminder, this is how you should be moving around a mini traffic circle:

Rendering of how you should turn left or turn right around a mini traffic circle.

If two vehicles are approaching a traffic circle at the same time, who has the right of way?

When approaching any intersection with a yield sign, drivers should yield or stop to give the right-of-way to anyone – vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists - in the intersection or those who arrived first at the intersection. If two vehicles arrive at the same time, Colorado law dictates that the car to the immediate right has the right-of-way and should go first.

Where are the design criteria for the traffic circles derived?

DOTI developed its traffic circle design using national design guidance as a basis. You can read more about traffic circles in the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, nationally accepted guidance for designing urban streets for people walking and bicycling.

What did DOTI learn from the initial installation of traffic circles on the 35th Ave bikeway in 2018, and were any resulting changes made to subsequent traffic circle installations?

DOTI studied the traffic circles installed on the W 35th Ave Neighborhood Bikeway in 2018 and has since modified the design of the standard traffic circles we install, including those that are currently under construction in Sunnyside. We recently updated these traffic circles to make them easier to maintain and replaced the two-way stop control with yield signs for all four legs of the intersection.

DOTI is also conducting a thorough evaluation study of all the new Neighborhood Bikeways and different traffic control elements, including traffic circles, that are being installed as part of the Community Transportation Network program, and looking for opportunities to improve those treatments based on that data.

Why are yield signs used on the approach to traffic circles rather than stop signs?

DOTI decided to install all-way yield traffic circles along new neighborhood bikeways and modify the traffic circles on existing neighborhood bikeways so all traffic circles within the city function the same and don’t cause confusion, which can be dangerous. Speed is the biggest determinant for how severe a crash is, and our goal is to reduce speed as much as possible. Traffic circles do this by requiring drivers from all directions to slow down in order to avoid hitting the traffic circle elements, which we call horizontal deflection. Stop signs are not a good way to reduce speeds, and some drivers even ignore them.

All-way yield traffic circles require everyone, bicyclist or driver, using the traffic circle to use caution when approaching the intersection. They also require everyone to yield the right-of-way to whoever arrives at the traffic circle first, or whoever is already within the traffic circle. We acknowledge it will take a while to get use to these new elements and urge everyone to use extra caution while doing so.

Are there any ways to improve the look of the traffic circles?

The primary goal of the Community Transportation Networks, including the addition of all the traffic circles made of asphalt, curb stops, and signs, is to rapidly expand safe and comfortable transportation options within three areas of Denver, with an emphasis on rapid and safe. We are looking into how we can upgrade these treatments in concrete to fit better with the existing street aesthetics of our neighborhood streets but are primarily focused on building out the network right now.