Bike lanes make Puebloans share the road

New bike lanes in Pueblo change traffic flow.
New bike lanes in Pueblo change traffic flow.

Five streets in Pueblo have been repainted to include bike lanes. The lanes, which first appeared Sept. 5, have caused drivers and bicyclists alike to adjust to a new traffic flow.

With help from Pueblo Active Community Environments, the city of Pueblo introduced the lanes to slow traffic and to encourage citizens to travel by bicycle.

Many citizens have already started taking advantage of the lanes. Puebloans “are now riding to work or on errands due to the lanes,” said Stephanie Chambers, bike and pedestrian coordinator for the city of Pueblo.

“There are existing cycle commuters who have expressed gratitude for the changes because they feel so much safer now,” she said.

“The first week had more a negative reaction,” said department of transportation traffic engineer Pepper Whittlef.

Confusion was followed by frustration when the lanes were first introduced. Complaints from the community were focused largely on the lanes on Greenwood and Elizabeth Avenues.

The streets, which are adjacent to each other, were previously one-ways with two car lanes each. The city removed one lane from both streets to paint the bike lines, leaving them with single lanes for cars.

When the officially marked bike lane on Elizabeth ends, it transitions into a lane designated for both cars and bikes.

“(Bicyclists) have to treat themselves as though they are vehicles,” Whittlef said.

Cyclists are required to abide by traffic laws as bikes are officially recognized as vehicles.

The introduction of the bike lanes has caused changes in other streets as well. New lanes also appear on Goodnight Avenue, Cleveland Street and Orman Avenue.

Before the bike lanes, Cleveland Street had a middle lane, which was used mostly by residents to turn into their driveways or onto other streets, while allowing the flow of traffic to continue around them.

A major goal behind the lanes has been to slow traffic, especially on Greenwood and Elizabeth.

“The neighbors in that area have long complained about the speeding traffic through the neighborhood,” a PACE news release said.

“A couple of older women even expressed that they used to be afraid to cross the street,” Chambers said of the high volume of speeding cars.

The city of Pueblo and PACE believe that the lane replacement will also encourage more citizens to bike.

“Bicycle traffic does not increase until you start providing this type of infrastructure,” Whittlef said.