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Dedicated bike lanes coming to downtown Denver

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DENVER -- Some say you take your life into your own hands when riding your bike in heavy traffic.

But Thursday, commuting through downtown Denver gets a bit safer.

That's when the city unveils the first-ever, left-side bike lane.

Every day, John Hayden rides his bike into congestion and chaos -- just inches from vehicles that could easily take him out.

“It was sort of a free for all. There are just buses and cars and bikes all over the place. It felt pretty intimidating,” he said.

But that was before the city built the 15th Street Bikeway.

On Thursday, he said that danger melts away with the opening of this unique bike lane.

“Right now, we’ve got a hodgepodge across the corridor. This project is really meant to organize traffic--bicycles on the left, cars in the middle and buses on the right,” said Emily Williams, Denver Public Works spokesperson.

The 10-block lane features green paint alerting drivers to shared space with cyclists.  It runs along 15th from Cleveland Place to Larimer Street.

There's a bicycle traffic signal.

And bike boxes give cyclists priority ahead of vehicles to move into the intersection.

“I think it will encourage more people to feel safe by cycling downtown, and bringing into the street and off the sidewalks,” said Hayden.

Right now, the sidewalk is exactly where this rider feels safest.

“The combination of drivers getting really hostile with bikers, and honking and wanting you off the road,” said Katie Wood Kennedy, as to why she sticks to the sidewalks.

In New York City, there's been a backlash against bike lanes, residents say they're dangerous and not used enough to justify them.

But drivers here seem okay with them.

“I think we need to keep the bike traffic separate from the cars,” said motorist Kathy Blood.

“As long as it’s safe and bicyclists and motorists share the road and not worry about accidents. I think it’s a good thing,” said another driver, who didn’t want to give his name.

Up to 50 cyclists an hour travel on the 15th Street corridor.

And if all works well with this pilot program, it could be expanded to other areas downtown.