17th and Wynkoop Receives Ped/Bike-Friendly Upgrades

Now that the A-Line to Denver International Airport is up and running, the number of people passing through Denver Union Station has increased. This is making the corner of 17th and Wynkoop—the historic station’s downtown-facing portal and popular tourist photo-taking spot—busier than ever, with bikes, cars, taxis, pedicabs, tour buses, delivery trucks and pedestrians seemingly navigating the intersection at the same time. This slow but continuous dance of people and their transport machines gives the corner an urban energy that reflects the vitality of the Union Station district and Downtown Denver. However, the standard crosswalks, bike lanes, and other design and regulatory elements in place at the intersection were too minimal, confusing, ineffective and/or biased in favor of the automobile.

In fall 2015, my fellow Union Station Advocates board members and I decided to push for pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements to the 17th and Wynkoop intersection in anticipation of the A-Line launch and the other FasTracks lines opening later this year. We held a public meeting and spread the word about the issue, as described in my post from last October, 17th and Wynkoop: Downtown’s Most Important Pedestrian Intersection? Fortunately, Denver Public Works shared our views on this and put a rapid-response team in place to plan, design, and implement a package of high-visibility, lower-cost improvements for the intersection in just a couple of months! Public Works was very responsive and great to work with—particularly planner Riley LaMie who led the planning effort—and, just in time for the A-Line opening, 17th and Wynkoop has been upgraded to a much more pedestrian/bike-friendly intersection. Here are a few before-and-after shots:

Wynkoop crosswalk:

2016-04-29_17th-wynkoop-former-condition-1 2016-04-29_17th-wynkoop-new-condition-1

17th and Wynkoop south corner:

2016-04-29_17th-wynkoop-former-condition-2 2016-04-29_17th-wynkoop-new-condition-2

Bike lane Wynkoop Plaza side looking southwest:

2016-04-29_17th-wynkoop-former-condition-3 2016-04-29_17th-wynkoop-new-condition-3

Bike lane Wynkoop Plaza side looking northeast:

2016-04-29_17th-wynkoop-former-condition-4 2016-04-29_17th-wynkoop-new-condition-4

Wynkoop crosswalk:

2016-04-29_17th-wynkoop-former-condition-5 2016-04-29_17th-wynkoop-new-condition-5

The new crosswalks are certainly more visible, and the painted bulb-outs with bollards significantly shorten the pedestrian crossing distance. The new painted bulb-outs also prevent cars wanting to make a right turn from illegally using the parking lane as a right-turn lane by squeezing between the sidewalk/curb ramp and cars stopped in the through lane. The project also included new parking-lane signs that clearly designate passenger loading zones along the Wynkoop Plaza side of the street:

2016-04-29_17th-wynkoop-curb-signs

Despite these new signs and street markings, motorists still find ways to do dumb things, like stopping right in the middle of the bike lane to let passengers out…

2016-04-29_17th-wynkoop-streetfail-1

…or stopping half in the bike lane, half in the traffic lane, for the valet parking…

2016-04-29_17th-wynkoop-streetfail-2

…or driving on the bike lane between traffic and the parked cars:

2016-04-29_17th-wynkoop-streetfail-3

I took those last three photos within minutes of each other. #streetfail #streetfail #streetfail

Nevertheless, these are wonderful improvements that clearly communicate that pedestrians and bicyclists have the priority at the intersection of 17th and Wynkoop!

Shouldn’t every intersection in the city look this good?

By | 2017-01-07T02:47:41+00:00 April 29, 2016|Categories: Bicycles, Pedestrians|Tags: , , |15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. […] posted photos of the changes when they were almost complete a couple of weeks ago. Now DenverUrbanism has published some great before-and-after photos of the finished […]

  2. Ryan April 29, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    The intersections may look fantastic, but as your bottom photos clearly show, zero improvement has been made for the safety of cyclists. I’ve nearly avoided a half-dozen accidents initiated by thoughtless drivers (mostly taxis, ubers, lyfts) in this very area.

    Won’t ride a bike on Wynkoop anymore. I don’t care what color they paint the street.

  3. David April 29, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Why did they not put the bollards on the other side of the bike lane? It’s almost as if they are inviting cars to park there. The restaurant and hotel valet are among the worst offenders BTW.

    • Ken Schroeppel April 29, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      Agreed. Check out David’s post at Streetsblog Denver for more on that issue. http://denver.streetsblog.org/2016/04/29/denver-public-works-built-a-bike-lane-protected-gutter/

      • James April 30, 2016 at 9:01 am

        Wouldn’t it be wise to put the bike lanes together on the side away from the station and remove that lane near the station all together? They could protect the cycletrack with the parking.. Win win!

        It seems common sense that you would want to move the perpendicular motion as far away from the station since most are moving away or towards it, while the bike lane runs perpendicular to that…

        Car traffic doesn’t mix with peds, but bikes do, so the bikes need to be the furthest.
        Cheers!

        • Nathanael May 1, 2016 at 9:17 pm

          Parking-protected bike lanes are definitely the best option.

  4. Tyler April 30, 2016 at 11:45 am

    The easiest solution to those last few pictures. Flip the bike lane and parking/loading lane. I’d like to see someone drive in the bike lane if they have to go through parked cars to do it. Apparently, we have the street pain and bollards to do it, they just need to be implemented correctly next time.

  5. James May 2, 2016 at 5:35 am

    The problem is, unloading passengers will inevitably put their luggage out on that lane and they will be passing through it continuously. But now the bikes won’t have anywhere to go, but up the curb or into a car door. At least now they can use the traffic lane…

    I think the only solution is to move both lanes together on the south side.

  6. […] DenverUrbanism Documents (Mostly) Good Ped-Bike Improvements at 17th and Wynkoop […]

  7. Mike May 2, 2016 at 8:45 am

    They should have just kept the same bike lane configuration as before, and just put bollards in the buffer zone.

    Green paint isn’t car repellent.

  8. Matt May 2, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    This is a big step in the right direction. Now that we have protected bike lanes through downtown to get to the station, are there any plans for long term bike parking? I would love to ride to the station and catch the train to the airport, but there is no option available to make this possible.

    • Chris May 4, 2016 at 8:31 am

      I wonder if the new bike station next to the Triangle building will have long term bike parking solutions for you?

  9. Chris May 3, 2016 at 10:30 am

    I pass this area every single day almost to the light rail station. I have thought about making signs and just standing off of the bike lane and when a car drives right through to stick the sign out with some friendly reminder that they’re doing something illegal.

  10. James May 3, 2016 at 10:40 am

    Yeah, that would be great. I tried that two weeks ago and my bike was stolen….

  11. Mark smith May 4, 2016 at 12:26 am

    Beautiful protected gutter. The curb is much safer.

Comments are closed.