Denver Auditor Knocks City’s $119M Bike Plan As ‘Cheap’ Talk

Photo: Denver bicycle club ride, tight group (Minor)
Members of the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club cycle through south Denver on their weekly ride on Wednesday, April 8, 2015.

Denver's $119 million plan to expand the city's bicycle network is stuck in the slow lane, an audit released Thursday says.

The Denver Moves plan has only received $2.8 million of the funding it needs to become reality, Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher said.

"Talk is cheap and apparently so is the funding of the plan,” said Gallagher in a press release. “The Mayor and City Council have identified Denver Moves as one of the City’s foremost priorities yet insufficient funding is resulting in a failure to meet the goal of an easy to use network for bicycle and pedestrian transportation.”

Denver Moves, announced in 2011, aims to add 270 miles of multi-use, bicycle, and pedestrian trails, lanes and paths. The original plan called for three phases of work to be tackled as funding came available.

But Gallagher's audit said the Department of Public Works, which is responsible for the plan's implementation, has taken an "inefficient approach" that has few construction goals and an inconsistent funding plan. He added that the estimate for the project's final cost -- $119 million -- is out of date and that undermines the department's funding requests.

"Public Works and the citizens of Denver do not know what the actual cost of the completed network will be," the audit states.

The audit recommends the following:

  • Establishing a timeframe for the project's completion
  • Developing a "realistic and strategic" funding approach
  • A more effective method of tracking project costs
  • Annual reports updating the public and City Council on the plan's implementation
  • Ongoing assessments of risks related to the project

The Department of Public Works is working on a new version of Denver Moves that will address the audit's concerns, said agency spokeswoman Nancy Kuhn.

"We've been able to make significant progress with the funding we've had to date," she said.

With nearly 150 miles of on-street bike lanes, three protected bike lanes downtown, and 60 miles of sharrows, Kuhn said the Denver Moves plan is 26 percent complete.

Gallagher told CPR News more infrastructure for bicycles is a high priority for Denverites he's talked to. He hopes the audit will spur Mayor Michael Hancock and the City Council to start discussions to fully fund the plan.