More Denver park rangers with the parks and recreation department will be undergoing speed enforcement training in the coming weeks, 9NEWS has learned.
“We are big on education but if it’s appropriate, we will give you a citation,” said Park Ranger Supervisor Jodie Marozas. “We want to make sure everybody recreates and uses our outdoor spaces safely.”
During the pandemic, only about five park rangers were certified to issue speed citations using a LIDAR or a laser imaging, detecting and ranging gun, according to Marozas.
Now 40 rangers will be trained in the coming weeks, she said, as the agency now has the ability to efficiently train more employees rather than relying on outside certified instructors.
“We will be out here in the next couple months,” Marozas said in an interview on the Cherry Creek Trail.
Marozas emphasized enforcement will be complaint-driven and not an effort that will be set through a schedule.
She added only egregious violators will be given a ticket. Going a few miles over the limit will likely result in a warning, she said.
Not everyone is happy about the enforcement effort against bicyclists.
“Of course, there are bicyclists that behave badly, but there are also drivers who behave badly. And if you ask me who I’m more afraid of, I’m much more afraid of drivers behaving badly,” Amy Kenreich of Denver Bicycle Lobby, said.
Kenreich said the city should focus more on dangerous drivers who sometimes drive through city parks, she said.
“When a driver breaks the law, that could mean my life or my kid's life,” Kenreich said.
A records request by 9NEWS revealed park rangers have not issued a speed citation since July 2020. Between 2019 and 2020, rangers issued 48 speeding citations.
Marozas said the agency’s priorities shifted during the pandemic and speed enforcement became a lower priority.
Now that things are returning to normal, Marozas said rangers will respond to complaints about people speeding on bikes, e-bikes and scooters or any other wheeled vehicle.
“The fastest I’ve seen somebody go is maybe like 29,” said ranger supervisor Jessica Johnson, who is now certified to train other rangers. “E-bikes are the most common speeders in the parks.”
A speeding citation issued by a park ranger is an administrative ticket, unlike a speeding ticket given to a driver of a car. The citations, if unpaid, don’t go on someone’s driving record but they can result in the city taking someone to collections.
E-bikes, which some models can travel up to 30 miles per hour, have become popular among people in Denver since the city launched its rebate program.
People in Denver have redeemed 4,401 e-bike rebates from the city’s Climate Action, Sustainability & Resiliency agency, which administers the program.
The program, which aims to cut down on traffic and car pollution, gives out highly sought-after rebates, which can range from $400 to $1700 depending on someone’s income and the type of bike they want.
The rebate program is expected to return next year.
9NEWS also requested data from Denver Fire to see how often the agency has responded to bike crashes.
So far this year, firefighters have responded to crashes involving bikes and cars 166 times, compared to 164 last year.
Involving bike-only crashes, firefighters have responded to 91 incidents so far this year, compared to 110 last year.
If you have any information about this story or would like to send a news tip, you can contact email@example.com.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Latest from 9NEWS