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Archive of posts filed under the Multi-Modal Transport category.

Fastracks Progress: Overhead Catenary System at Denver Union Station

Since I was a kid, overhead wires have always made my infrastructure senses tingle. This all makes sense because I grew up very close to these wonderful pylons running right down East Jewell Avenue in Aurora.

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Source: Google Street View

Some, like myself, don’t mind seeing overhead wires, whereas others aren’t so fond of the visual clutter. But, enough about your friendly DenverUrbanism contributor’s personal childhood and opinions. Denver’s new visual infrastructure comes right to Downtown’s backyard: Union Station.  Let’s take a look at what’s going on under the commuter rail canopy!

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Installation of the overhead catenary system under the canopy has commenced, adding the last piece to making this beautiful station fully operational.

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Can you imagine how great this view will look with the new commuter rail trains running through it next year?

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The real exciting visual, however, is just north of the canopy. These large, overhead catenary wires mean serious business and will serve three commuter rail lines pulling into Union Station!

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This post might seem silly and filled with my likings towards overhead wire systems but remember, without these systems in place, our commuter rail system would cease to exist.

 


Welcome Streetsblog Denver!

Welcome Streetsblog to the Mile High City!

The Streetsblog network is a national source for news and information relating to sustainable transportation, with certain cities (e.g. New York, DC, San Francisco) having their own dedicated Streetsblog site and reporters. Fortunately, Denver has just joined the ranks of those select cities!

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Streetsblog Denver’s mission is to advocate for more bikeable and walkable streets, better public transportation serving Denver’s urban neighborhoods, and to help Denver continue to grow and prosper with an exceptional transportation system designed for people, not just cars. That is DenverUrbanism’s mission as well, so I am thrilled that Streetsblog Denver is here and I am looking forward to working with David Sachs, Streetsblog Denver’s editor and main reporter, on advancing our shared goals for our city. Click here to view the press release (PDF) from a few days ago introducing Streetsblog Denver.

David has a journalism background in covering urban transportation issues and will be a strong ally in hastening Denver’s cultural and physical transformation from a city over-reliant on the single-occupant automobile to one that offers a robust mix of transportation options. I’m particularly excited by the fact that Streetsblog Denver isn’t just about sharing valuable information about livable streets, but that their goal is to “provoke action” to make things happen. Streetsblog Denver is a great complement to DenverUrbanism and DenverInfill and our allies like BikeDenver and WalkDenver.

Congratulations to David and the rest of the Streetsblog team on the launch of Streetsblog Denver!!


Denver Urbanists Unite! MeetUp #12 Coming May 13, 2015

Please join us for Denver Urbanists MeetUp #12 on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 starting at 5:30 PM at McLoughlins Restaurant and Bar, 2100 16th Street. McLoughlins is a great neighborhood pub right next to the Millennium Bridge.

Never been to one of our MeetUps before? Stop by! There is no program or anything formal. It is just a bunch of friendly people getting together to chat about Denver’s growth and development and meet like-minded people and make connections. There is no fee and you’re on your own for food and drinks.

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Click on the link below to see additional details. Registration just helps give us an idea of how many people to expect. You do not need to bring the RSVP ticket with you, and if you don’t register, that’s OK too. Please stop by either way.

Denver Urbanists MeetUp #12 Eventbrite RSVP

We hope to see you at Denver Urbanists MeetUp #12 on Wednesday, May 13 at 5:30 PM at McLoughlins. See you there!


Where Should We Put Bike Lanes? (Part 3 of 3)

Note: Now that the big series of Doors Open Denver previews have concluded, we are temporarily returning these three popular bicycle posts from March back to the top-of-page position to facilitate more discussion. 

Bike Lanes on Low-Volume Side Streets

The case for concentrating our bike network planning on smaller, side streets is one that is equally as compelling as the case for focusing on large streets. However, that is not to say that we have to simply choose one option or the other.

Take Portland, for example: a city home to one of the most comprehensive bike networks in the country. They have focused much of their energy on public greenways: transforming small, low volume streets parallel to larger thoroughfares into neighborhood bike lanes. These greenways are more than just sharrows; they’ve actually built infrastructure into the streets. But they provide a safer bike route for people who don’t want to blow through at 25 mph. Additionally, this low-stress network connects all types of people on bikes to some of the city’s larger, more robust bike lanes and infrastructure such as the recently unveiled bike/ped/transit-only Tilikum Crossing Bridge.

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*Example of one of Portland’s public greenways, courtesy of Bike Portland (source)

Focusing on smaller parallel streets such as Grant or Bannock isn’t just an option apart from Broadway, though. Actual infrastructure (buffered lanes) on these streets can provide necessary support for larger infrastructure projects in the city, such as Broadway. They provide a safer (both perceived and actual) route for the “interested but concerned” potential bike riders in the city as well as vital access for shorter trips.

According the 2009 National Household Travel Survey, 43.1% of vehicle trips in the US were three miles or less. If we were to create a system of “neighborhood greenways” to support larger, more intensively built bike lanes like the ones proposed on Broadway and Brighton, we encourage biking to people who are just running daily errands in their own neighborhoods. That keeps more cars off roads like Broadway and expands access to non-traditional bikers.

The debate over bike network planning on large versus small streets is an important one, with many successful examples of both. But, in the end, they two are not mutually exclusive. We need both types of infrastructure to create a robust and equitable network, which in the end, is everyone’s goal.


Where Should We Put Bike Lanes? (Part 2 of 3)

Bike Lanes on Major Streets

There are significant advantages and disadvantages to building bike lanes on streets like Broadway and Brighton. From the perspective of bike advocates, the most obvious advantage is the visibility of the lane as a political victory. The effect of claiming one of Denver’s most important arterials is resounding. It sends a message, loud and clear, that bikes matter; that people on bikes deserve part of the road; and that, as a transportation mode, they’re just as important as people in cars.

Further, it directly connects people on bikes with their destinations. In Denver, and especially on South Broadway, the destinations aren’t on Bannock or Sherman—they’re on Broadway. Putting people on bikes right on Broadway connects them directly with their destinations—no first and last block considerations needed. Additionally, from a business standpoint, people on bikes who are just passing through become an important customer base for those businesses on Broadway. People riding on Bannock aren’t going to make an impromptu stop if they can’t see the business.

Check out this protected bike lane in Vancouver. It’s beautiful, and has increased bicycle traffic along this route by 19% per year since 2010–but are we willing to build this intensely on our major arterials?

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*Photo courtesy of Paul Krueger, Momentum Mag (source)

How much work and investment does it take to build a good bike lane on Broadway? And if the lane only attracts people who are already biking, what have we really accomplished? As I wrote in my last post, any new bike lane that a family with kids doesn’t feel comfortable riding in, is insufficient—plain and simple. The sheer infrastructure that building such a lane on Broadway would require, would be monumental and expensive. A three-foot buffer with plastic bollards-style lane like 15th Street simply isn’t good enough. Have you ever seen families biking on 15th Street? I haven’t.

That is the downside of building bike lanes on major streets: the lanes have to be much more intensive in order to account for existing high-speed, high-volume traffic, and guarantee safety–real and perceived. Overall, they are more expensive to build out entirely, and take a long time to build because of all the engineering and traffic considerations. But, they connect people on bikes directly to their destinations, while facilitating more low-speed traffic (bikes and pedestrians) on retail corridors.