On the USENET news group (rec.bicycles.misc) there are always violent arguments (even more than here) about the usage and advisability of bike paths in comparison to surface streets. There is currently one of those debates going on, and I wrote the following about bike paths near my home and area, and thought I would share it here for general interest. Awaiting flames and arrows, but can pretty much stand both, so have at it.
"In Denver, we also have long stretches of bike/multi-use paths that do not intersect any roadways. Generally, they follow the natural drainage beds and use space between the creek or stream and the roadway bridge, so they go under the roadways next to the waterway, or there are separate bicycle overpasses
In several cases they parallel the freeways where bikes are generally not allowed or provide short cuts from one part of town to another so they are faster than corresponding surface streets, and during rush hour, at times faster than the corresponding freeway.
I can go out my back door and do a 22 mile ride on a bike path without ever crossing a road, or a 30 mile with crossing 3 very lightly used residential streets.
When the trail gets completed to downtown (there is currently a 3 mile break just 3 miles west of my home), I will be able to go to downtown Denver (about 25 miles) via the Cherry Creek Trail, which intersects only 3 roads. From there, I can go south to Chatfield Reservoir with no intersections (20 miles) or north about 20 miles with 2 intersections, or take trails west to near
Morrison (10 miles) with one intersection or to Golden with about 3 intersections.
I can also go out my back door, go west a mile, and head west along a freeway for about 25 miles, with 7 at grade intersections along the way, which joins the trail mentioned above going south from downtown.
All of these trails are used for bike commuting - I have used them myself, and I can assure you that at commuting times during the weekday - about 6 - 7:30 am and 5 - 6:30 pm, they are used almost exclusively by bike commuters.
However, around here, there are also a lot of bikers who use the roadways for biking and commuting, so it makes a nice mix and some nice choices.
Generally, there are bikes in almost every garage, and many folks are at least casual bikers, and so the attitude is generally positive towards bikers, except for those nasty incidents in Ft Collins and the awful road rage incident in Denver a couple of years back, and a rather long-lasting argument with the
Jefferson county commissioners regarding one narrow, very heavily vehicle traveled winding road (Deer Creek Canyon) into the foothills where bikes and cars are having problems using the very limited, windy space with no shoulders. However, these are definitely the exception.
If you were to be here in the fall, spring and summer, you would see lots of cars with bike racks and bikes in the racks.
In the mountains there are extensive bike paths (about 60 miles) through Breckenridge, Keystone, Frisco, Copper Mountain, Vail and beyond. These also have very few at-grade crossings, paralleling waterways and the freeway. I can go from Breckenridge to Vail (over Vail Pass) with one road intersection at
Copper Mountain, about 40 miles. This parallels the freeway, and would be otherwise impossible to travel without the bike path. There are no alternative direct roads from Frisco to Vail."