Using the MUPs (multi-use paths) laid out along the Platte River and Cherry Creek, a Denver bicyclist can roll for long stretches right through the heart of the city without encountering a single stop sign, red light, or street intersection of any kind, as the paths flow uninterrupted beneath the streets along with the water. (Cyclists access the path via frequent on/off ramps leading up to street level.) This non-stop passage through the urban core is a wonderful advantage for area cyclists -- commuters, recreationists and industrialized cyclists alike.

Clearly, most American cyclists don't enjoy the same advantages in their own communities, where cycling facilities tend not to be as well designed or prioritized as they are in Denver. In fact, many have a tough time even visualizing how such a useful facility as Denver's Cherry Creek path (one of several fully separated 'Class1 Bikeways' in metro Denver) could be constructed at all. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to post a few photos so people around the nation can get a sense of what we're talking about.

I sing the praises of this facility and use it often, but it's certainly not perfect. As with any MUP, the danger of collision with other path users may translate to a somewhat higher accident rate for cycling on the path as opposed to the road. The University underpass in particular is dangerous. And, as I've pointed out many times before, this path is occasionally lined with large and sharp rocks -- why not add an alligator pit? -- so a small lapse of attention could easily lead to a serious injury. Perhaps worst of all, snow and ice removal on these paths has been half-hearted and unsatisfactory, always complicating and sometimes unceremoniously severing a crucial corridor for Denver's many year-round commuters. Note also that the path is now closed for construction near downtown, and will be until April, meaning it's currently a transportational black hole that should be avoided by anyone in a serious hurry. But before too long the path will return to its regular useful and much-appreciated self, a tribute to the planners, advocates and builders who made it happen (decades ago). [UPPDATE: As of Fall '09 the project is complete and the path is fully functional.] I strongly urge urban cyclists everywhere to push for the construction of similarly useful paths in their own communities.

 

 
     

 

Riders have many options for stringing together low-key routes using various MUPs around the metro area. Several of these routes are included in my guidebook  Road Biking Colorado's Front Range.

 

RELATED: BIGGER THAN BIKE LANES , CYCLE TRAPS