RiNo Infrastructure Part 9: Blake Street Conversion and Broadway Cycle Track

With this post we wrap up our recent series on infrastructure investments in the River North district. Previously, we looked at RTD’s 38th & Blake Station followed by Part 1: 35th Street Pedestrian BridgePart 2: 38th Street Pedestrian Bridge, Part 3: Brighton Boulevard Reconstruction, Part 4: River North Park, Part 5: Delgany Festival Street, Part 6: River North Promenade, Part 7: RiNo Pedestrian Bridge and Part 8: 35th Street Woonerf.

On this Google Earth aerial I’ve outlined the general extent of the Blake Street and Broadway improvements discussed in this post. Click to biggify.

2016-07-23_blake-broadway-aerial

The Blake Street two-way conversion/bike lanes and Broadway cycle track project is fairly straightforward:

Blake Street, from 35th to Broadway, is currently a one-way street with two overly-wide vehicle lanes heading southwest-bound, parking lanes on both sides of the street, and no bicycle infrastructure. With this project, Blake Street will be converted to two-way traffic—a 10′ vehicle lane in each direction—with 6′ striped bicycle lanes in each direction and 8′ curbside parking lanes on both sides of the street. Northeast of 35th Street, Blake is already a two-way street.

Here is Blake Street today, looking southwest from around 28th Street:

2016-07-23_blake-existing

Back a few years ago, Larimer Street looked similar to how Blake Street does today: a multi-lane one-way street with no bicycle infrastructure. Thanks to a 2011 project by Denver Public Works, Larimer Street is now a two-way street with bicycle lanes and on-street parking, much like what is proposed for Blake Street.

2016-07-23_larimer-existing

Broadway, between Blake and 29th Street, is a modern roadway that was constructed in the early 2000s as part of the removal of the old Broadway viaduct. It features wide (16′) pedestrian walkways on both sides of the street that are separated from the vehicle lanes by concrete walls and fencing for much of this stretch. These walkways will be converted to shared-use paths with the addition of a cycle track in each direction.

2016-07-23_broadway-cycle-track

Pavement striping and signage will delineate the pedestrian and bicycle zones within each path. At 29th Street, the cycle tracks will connect to the new cycle tracks planned as part of the big Brighton Boulevard Reconstruction project that will start construction very soon.

2016-07-23_bike-ped-sign

If some of you are thinking “With Blake being converted to two-way, there’s no point in keeping Walnut as a one-way street since Walnut and Blake operate as a one-way couplet”—you’d be right! The conversion of Walnut northeast of Broadway to two-way with bike lanes will likely happen in the future. According to the Northeast Downtown Neighborhoods Plan (2011), Walnut is identified as a street with good potential for conversion to two-way. From the plan: “Evaluate conversion of Walnut contingent on significant redevelopment along this street that eliminates most of the existing loading docks. This recommendation is long-term and reliant on land use changes.” The city will soon begin a study of Walnut to evaluate the situation given the intense redevelopment activity in the area.

The Blake Street two-way conversion/bike lanes and Broadway cycle track project represents another important step in more fairly balancing the use of the public right-of-way in the Downtown area between different transportation modes. Work on the Blake Street project is scheduled for late August 2016. Thank you Denver Public Works… keep up the good work!

While this may be the end of our current series on RiNo, this won’t be the last of our coverage of new infrastructure in the area. We’ll continue to spotlight these and other projects as they move forward. Nor is list of projects we covered in this series exhaustive either. Additional projects such as new sidewalks around the 38th and Blake station, the rebuilding of the Blake Street bridge over 38th Street and other small but critical improvements here and there are helping elevate River North’s outdated industrial-era streets into a walkable/bikeable public realm suitable for an urban, transit-oriented, mixed-use district.

16 Comments

  1. George July 23, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    This conversion probably should have been delayed until the soon-to-begin East I-70 project was near or past completion. Smith/40th/Blake makes for a nice alternate commute from Stapleton to Downtown and points west, with only light to medium traffic and a refreshing, relaxing drive as compared to I-70 which greatly elevates ones heartrate with all the traffic, awful dangerous reckless drivers, and peril to ones life and vehicle for several nerve-racking miles in the pm commute.

    The change is okay, but with the looming five year I-70 project, many will be taking alternative routes to avoid the epic warlike conditions coming to I-70 through 2021; this is one of the better ones.

    But now with the changes particularly Blake north of Park will become like Colorado Blvd from Colfax south to Hampden with lots of bumper to bumper traffic especially in the pm commute, with increased risk to pedestrians and other local traffic for the time ahead.

    • Jerry G July 23, 2016 at 9:39 pm

      George, I fail to see how slower traffic on Blake would constitute an increased risk to pedestrians. Colorado Blvd is more risking to pedestrians during off peak times because it has excess capacity, wide lanes, and very few traffic lights and so cars will routinely speed along the route.

      • Ken Schroeppel July 24, 2016 at 5:20 am

        Right. It’s been clearly researched and documented that slower vehicle traffic speeds are safer for pedestrians.

  2. Liz F. July 23, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Hey Ken! Great information. Wondering what you think about making Blake Street two-way into lower downtown? Past the Ballpark and through the inner city neighborhood. Possible? Necessary? Liz

    • Ken Schroeppel July 23, 2016 at 8:11 pm

      Hi Liz. Anything is possible but I bet PW would never go for it. The transition to Auraria Pkwy would require some reconfiguring.

      • Liz F. July 27, 2016 at 4:09 pm

        Thanks Ken. Good point.

  3. Today’s Headlines | Streetsblog Denver July 25, 2016 at 8:00 am

    […] DenverUrbanism Has Details on the Two-Way Conversion of Blake Street […]

  4. Tyler July 25, 2016 at 11:48 am

    I understand the conversions of one-way streets into two-way streets usually slows down traffic making it safer for pedestrians and allowing room for bike lanes. I don’t necessarily agree with it though.

    If anyone has driven down this stretch of Blake Street, they will probably notice how little traffic there usually is on it. I fear making it two-way will only result in larger amounts or cars taking the street and making it busier and less safe for pedestrians. I would argue that instead of making our one-way streets two-way in an effort to make them safer, we should be building more pedestrian bump-outs on the curbs at intersections, etc. In the case of Blake Street, they very easily could have left it as a one-way while narrowing the lanes and installing a bike lane or cycle-track with bump-outs or pedestrian islands and had a similar effect in the overall safety of the street. I mean, they left Champa and Stout Street as one-ways through Curtis Park and still installed bike lanes.

    As for Walnut becoming a two-way street, I suppose if Blake is two-way it wouldn’t make much sense for Walnut to remain a one-way street. But I think the traffic increase to Walnut would be immense with a conversion to two-way as many people who are heading downtown get off I-70 at Washington and take that to 38th to Walnut. As it stands now, you cant go into downtown on Walnut and instead have to turn down Downing to another street (like Larimer or Champa) or jog up to Blake. Allowing people to head straight down Walnut would undoubtedly increase vehiular traffic on Walnut through an area with many pedestrians.

    Just food for thought anyways.

    • mckillio August 1, 2016 at 10:03 am

      People are more likely to drive on one ways because they’re one ways and they can travel faster. This section of Blake will increase in traffic but it won’t be due to the conversion, it will be due to the increase in population.

  5. Lisa Bartlett July 25, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    This is great news. With a new office on the west side of 29th and Blake, crossing two lanes of traffic zooming by at 40+mph (no joke) is both a daunting and dangerous task. This conversion is a needed update for RiNo as the neighborhood continues to add a wonderful mix of business, retail and residential. Pedestrian and bike traffic will only increase, and increased safety will support RiNo’s desirability as one of Denver’s fastest rising places to live/eat/work.

  6. Dave July 25, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    I work on Blake near the new 38th & Blake station. In the past 6mos the amount of traffic has increased. One thing that happens on daily basis is someone goes the wrong way for a block or two. It can be very scary. This will be a great improvement.

  7. Dan July 26, 2016 at 7:34 am

    The safest street in RINO at the moment is Larimer St. The two-way traffic, narrow streets and bike lanes make the traffic speed lower than both Blake and Walnut. Also, with store fronts, the foot-traffic is higher than in other streets making it safer at night and more vibrant. I recall reading a few years back how turning Upper Larimer into a 2way helped drive foot-traffic and commerce (but I can’t find the article anymore)
    Blake St and Walnut have very light traffic and with wide lanes and few stop signs, the speed of cars is usually above 30 mph and quite dangerous for pedestrians and not an option for bikes. I am very excited about the planned change for Blake to a two-way street. It will make it safer for pedestrians and bikers and will also make it more vibrant over time. I hope Walnut also becomes a 2-way and eventually gets sidewalks!
    RINO’s streets shouldn’t be seen as easy arteries for commuters but a vibrant urban neighborhood itself

  8. Tim July 29, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Great news and improvement!

    Ken – In regards to one-way to two-way street conversions, I thought the city was going to be converting 19th and 20th avenues in Uptown to two-way streets between Broadway/Lincoln and Park ave. Do you know if such conversions are still on the docket?

    • Ken Schroeppel July 30, 2016 at 7:26 am

      Stay tuned… we’ve got a post on that in the works! Short answer: yes

  9. Christian Taylor August 2, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Would it be too much of a stretch if the city were to make Champa and Stout 2-way??

  10. jmiller August 7, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Allowing more room for bikes is great. Over here in Jefferson Park, we’re waiting for the city to address to hazard to bikes and cars which is 23rd Ave from Federal to the Aquarium. There is parking on both sides of the street and the bike markers are practically in the middle of the road. Every day, it’s a crap shoot for all concerned. Less on-street parking more room to move seems like a sound idea.

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