(Photo: iStockphoto.com)
Biking in Denver could get safer in the near future. The non-profit People for Bikes has chosen the city, along with five others, as a target for its campaign to build dedicated bike lanes that provide added protection for cyclists.

The idea is to create a physical barrier of some kind between bikes and cars, using plastic sticks, a curb, planter boxes or a row of parked cars. People for Bikes calls the effort the Green Lane Project, since a few cities have painted the lanes green as an additional indication to drivers that the space is reserved for cyclists.

People for Bikes President Tim Blumenthal says protected bike lanes are particularly helpful for new bikers and people who are interested in riding bikes but have serious concerns about safety.

However, as People for Bikes has advocated for protected bike lanes in various cities, the group has faced some opposition from business owners. Since creating dedicated bike lanes often requires eliminating parking spaces or driving lanes, some business owners fear the project will cut down on traffic to their storefronts, particularly in a downtown area. Blumenthal counters that the organization's research shows that bicyclists, because they move more slowly than cars, stop more often at local businesses. They purchase less at a time, because they can carry fewer goods, but over time bike lanes can boost business. 

Blumenthal adds that business alliance Downtown Denver Partnership has been supportive of creating more dedicated bike lanes downtown.