Wash Park bicyclists need to heed speed
By Mike McPhee
Denver Post Staff Writer
Police today will begin enforcing the 15-mph speed limit for bicyclists using the asphalt road around the interior of Washington Park.
The park is used - heavily at times, such as early in the morning and after work - by dog walkers, joggers, in-line skaters and cyclists. It's the difference in speeds that causes the problems.
"It's a park, not a racetrack," said Jenny Cargile, 37, a mother of three who jogged Monday while pushing a big-wheeled baby carriage. "Just the other day, I saw two children get hit by bikes. It scares me when my own kids walk over the yellow line. They could be wiped out by a group of bikes."
But some cyclists think police should concentrate on bigger problems.
Julie and Daryl Hoekstra ride bikes 30 to 50 miles a day, usually on roads or the Cherry Creek bike path.
"When it's crowded, we don't ride very fast," Julie Hoekstra said. But police should ticket people who spray "graffiti or cars running stop signs. Bikers are pretty careful. The only accident I've seen is a car that ran a stop sign and hit a cyclist."
The smooth asphalt road is divided by a painted yellow line. Bikes use the outside lane traveling counterclockwise, and everyone else uses the inside lane traveling clockwise. Automobiles are banned, except for a quarter-mile stretch between the park's entrances on Virginia Avenue and Downing Street.
Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said Monday that he was not sure whether police would use a radar gun to track the speed and whether they would ticket offenders.
Several people said it was about time police did something.
Michael Hanna, 30, works out on his bike nearly every day and races on weekends.
"I don't mind the speed limit - 15 (mph) is reasonable," he said. "The park is for all kinds of people. Everyone should feel safe. But it's also important for pedestrians and kids to pay attention to the bikes while they're in the park."
Kristin and Jim Benoist, who have seven children between them, in-line skate in the park four times a week while pushing double child carriers.
"The bikes go too fast, and some skaters do too," said Kristin Benoist, 32. "And they don't have much tolerance for us, yelling to get out of the way or to go faster."
Jim Benoist, 45, said bicyclists should watch what they're doing. "It's usually just one or two riders going way too fast," he said. "I wouldn't mind even if the speed limit was 20 mph, if people were careful."
Others, like bike-commuter Brad Smith, 47, would prefer set times for a speed limit - say 4 p.m. to dusk and on weekends. "The rest of the time people could go at their own pace," said Smith, who said he witnessed a bicyclist-pedestrian accident in the park two weeks ago that required an ambulance.