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Archive of posts filed under the Bicycles category.

Crowdfunding a New Protected Bike Lane on Arapahoe Street

By Peter Bird

At the Downtown Denver Partnership’s October Member Forum, the DDP announced an exciting new project on Arapahoe Street. Following a few temporary projects on that street—and supporting the larger Denver Moves Plan—they will be implementing a permanent protected bike lane.

Here is an image of the prospective bike lane provided by Alta Planning + Design:

Proposed protected bike lane on Arapahoe Street

The lane will extend along Arapahoe from Broadway to Speer, and will serve as a vital bicycle avenue through downtown—and through a thriving business district. However, the most novel aspect of this project is not necessarily its design or planning, but its funding structure. The DDP already secured $85,000 from the Gates Family Foundation as well as $35,000 from the business community, but they have also initiated a crowdfunding campaign to cover the remaining $35,000 needed for the lane’s construction.

This crowdfunding structure for a large-scale public infrastructure project is the first of its kind here in Denver. It was originally inspired by a similar project in Memphis, TN that was very successful. Aside from the structure’s usefulness as an alternative revenue stream, its grassroots nature allows for a level of public involvement and ownership not typically available.

Many downtown businesses have already expressed strong interest in the proposed bike lane—evidenced by the initial $35,000 raised by the greater business community. The crowdfunding campaign is available here and will be open to contributions until December 12.

Aylene McCallum, Senior Manager of Transportation & Research at the Downtown Denver Partnership, commented that this structure will allow business owners as well as individuals to show the city that they want these resources. Planners often tout the phrase, “if we build it, they will come,” referring to such infrastructure projects. But this project’s crowdfunding structure turns that idea on its head. It puts the power into the hands of individuals and businesses, and says, “if we come together, they will build it.”

More and more, we’re experiencing the positive effects of protected bike lanes on cities and neighborhoods. They encourage healthy behaviors, mitigate pollution and congestion, and promote vibrant business communities, among other things. And this crowdfunding structure, if successful, will send a clear message to key decision makers: We want more urban bike infrastructure!

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Peter Bird grew up around the country and, after completing his Bachelor’s degree in linguistics, moved abroad, living in Hungary and Estonia. It was there that he first developed a love for cities and the transportation patterns within them. He currently works for BikeDenver and is also pursuing a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of Colorado Denver with a special interest in bicycle/pedestrian transportation planning.


Two-Way Conversion of 18th Street in LoDo Opens

This past Sunday, November 2, Denver Public Works completed the conversion of 18th Street between Wynkoop and Blake Street in Lower Downtown to a two-way street.

The conversion of these two blocks from one-way to two-way traffic is an important step in helping make Lower Downtown into an even more pedestrian-friendly district. One-way streets exist primarily as a way of maximizing the movement of vehicles through an area, but they also force people to have to drive farther to get where they are going and they also encourage people to drive at faster speeds. One-way streets certainly have their place in the city, but speeding vehicles pose a threat to pedestrians and bicyclists; consequently, one-way streets are not desired in pedestrian-focused areas like around Denver Union Station. As evidence, simply compare your experience as a pedestrian along slower-speed, two-way Wynkoop Street versus the faster-speed, one-way Blake Street.

The 2000 Lower Downtown Neighborhood Plan identified 18th Street between Wynkoop and Blake as one of several one-way streets in LoDo to be converted to two-way. Others included Wazee Street between 15th and 20th, converted a few years ago, which has greatly improved Wazee as a pedestrian-friendly street.

Here are a few photo (courtesy Ryan Dravitz) of the newly-converted 18th Street on Sunday afternoon shortly after the conversion work was complete:

View from Wynkoop looking southeast toward Downtown:

2014-11-03_18th-Street-conversion1

View from Blake looking northwest toward the Union Station area:

2014-11-03_18th-Street-conversion4

View from Wynkoop Plaza of the 18th and Wynkoop intersection:

2014-11-03_18th-Street-conversion3

Overview of the two-blocks of 18th Street between Wynkoop and Blake with the integrated bicycle lane and MetroRide station.

2014-11-03_18th-Street-conversion2

Space provided for pedestrians, bicycles, cars, and transit—a nice multi-modal street!


West Colfax Mobility Improvement Project Completed

This past weekend, the West Colfax Business Improvement District (WCBID) celebrated the near completion of a mobility improvement project on West Colfax Avenue between Federal and Sheridan Boulevards. The project, which has been in planning and development for nearly three years, includes new pedestrian-scale signage, seven artist-designed bus shelters and entry monument signage on both ends of the corridor. The project aims to encourage pedestrian traffic and mass transit use on West Colfax and throughout the surrounding neighborhood by connecting people to local parks, light-rail stations and other destinations such as the new Denver Library branch set to open on West Colfax in early 2015.  All aspects of the project incorporate the WCBID’s logo therefore helping to create a brand for the up-and-coming West Colfax corridor. The “W” logo can be seen on the entry monument shown in the photo below.

2014-10-22_Entry Monument1w

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funded by the Denver Office of Economic Development the new signage, bus stations, and branding is also intended to help jump start additional redevelopment along the corridor. Together with bicycle signage also being installed throughout the neighborhood, these new elements form a wayfinding system that is designed to comprehensively connect pedestrians and bicyclists to neighborhood assets. Together with the bus shelters, these directional signs and enhanced transit amenities support WCBID’s efforts to encourage pedestrian and bike transport in West Colfax and create a more healthy, dynamic and  interactive community culture that will support local businesses.

While this project certainly isn’t as monumental as the recent reconstruction of 14th Street downtown or as pretty as improvements to South Broadway or North Tennyson Street, for example, there is certainly something unique to be seen here. I believe that the exciting thing about this project (unlike so many other pedestrian improvement projects) is that it anticipates the pedestrians rather than simply acknowledging an existing pedestrian presence. As it exists today, there is very little pedestrian traffic on West Colfax, but with new developments coming online including Mile High Vista at Colfax and Irving and the redevelopment of the St Anthony’s hospital, there is potential for more pedestrian traffic in the near future. Additionally, acknowledging and enhancing what little pedestrian traffic is already on the street goes along way toward encouraging more pedestrians to make their way onto the corridor. Putting just a few more people in front of existing businesses and empty storefronts just might be the ticket that sparks additional redevelopment.

Here’s a closer look at the components.

2014-10-22_Signage1w

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wayfinding signage (above) and entry monuments designed by Tom Rodgers with Hyperform Design Cooperative (as part of a larger master plan for the corridor executed several years ago) are designed to reflect the rich history of mid-century “Googie” signage on Colfax Ave while also giving the corridor a bold modern look. The entry monument on the east end (pictured earlier) replaced an existing, but tired, welcome sign located at Colfax and Irving, while on the west end of the corridor, Dan Shah of the WCBID somewhat miraculously managed to convince the Walgreen’s corporation to mount an identical sign on the concrete wall surrounding their parking lot at the intersection of Sheridan and Colfax. The wayfinding signs are located on both sides of Colfax Avenue and occur on nearly every block throughout the corridor. They help to continually reinforce the theme set up by the entry signage.

2014-10-22_Orange Bus Stop 2014-10-22_Bus Stop Detail

The bus shelters, designed by local artist Emmett Culligan, also pay homage to the mid-century modern car culture with their unique “inflated” stainless steel columns and bright colors (as seen in the pictures above). Each of the seven shelters is painted a different color of the spectrum and has matching plexiglass panels. As you travel down West Colfax from east to west the stations are placed in spectral order from red to purple. Interestingly enough, however, the shelters aren’t actually new. In order to complement the WCBID’s other sustainability goals (you can see the solar streetlight in the photo above) the BID and the artist worked with RTD to refurbish and place seven identical bus shelters along the corridor. This was no easy task as only three of the shelters already existed on West Colfax. In order to create the rest of the set, RTD and the BID swapped out three non-matching shelters from West Colfax with matching shelters elsewhere in the system and pulled one more matching shelter out of storage. A pretty amazing feat if you ask me. Once the refurbished shelters were placed on site, the artist simply mounted his inflated stainless steel tubes to the corners of the existing shelter to finish off the new look (the “inflated” tubes are made by blowing compressed air into extremely hot steel to create the “air-stream” like forms).

So next time you’re traveling by on West Colfax (in whatever transit mode you happen to be taking) check out the new bus shelters and wayfinding signage. And maybe (if you’re so inclined) linger a bit and imagine a fully revitalized corridor complete with shops, restaurants, new housing and, most of all, healthy and sustainable pedestrian street life. It’s not so much of a distant future.


USDOT Prioritizes Safe Walking and Biking

This post was written by WalkDenver Board member Gideon Berger and was originally presented here:

WalkDenver was excited to participate in the Pro Walk/ Pro Bike/ Pro Place conference in Pittsburgh earlier this month. While there is always lots to learn from advocates and practitioners from all around the country at this national conference for walking and bicycling professionals organized by the Project for Public Spaces, federal Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx also made headlines by announcing a new US Department of Transportation initiative to enhance pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Called “Safer People, Safer Streets,” Secretary Foxx—who was once hit by a right-turning driver while jogging during his first term as mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina—called the action plan, “the most comprehensive, forward-leaning initiative U.S. DOT has ever put forward on bike/ ped issues.” While there has been a 33% reduction in passenger vehicle occupant deaths in the US in the past decade, the DOT reports the number of bicycle and pedestrian fatalities has increased by about 15% since 2009. And pedestrian fatalities are a far larger problem: 4,743 were killed while walking in 2012 compared to 726 cyclists.

Recent data also indicates that residents of low-income and minority neighborhoods are disproportionately involved in bike and ped injuries and fatalities, and low-income neighborhoods often have fewer sidewalks and other safe infrastructure. Ped and bike safety is also a more serious problem in cities and urban areas: 73% of pedestrian deaths and 69% of bicyclist deaths in 2012 occurred where interactions between vehicles and non-motorized users are frequent, and where many people walk or bike to reach destinations or transit stops and stations. The majority of fatalities occur on urban arterial streets.

So what is DOT proposing to do about all this? Over the next 18 months they will be rolling out a variety of new resources and highlighting existing tools for transportation practitioners. On pedestrian safety, these will include:

  • bike/ped safety assessments of selected corridors throughout the country
  • a new road diet guide (studies show that road diets reduce all traffic crashes by an average of 29%)
  • an “aggressive research agenda” on a range of topics including pedestrian safety, performance measures, design flexibility and network development
  • an updated resident’s guide for creating safe and walkable communities
  • evaluation of pedestrian safety engineering countermeasures at urban and suburban mid-block crossing locations (about 70% of ped fatalities occur away from intersections)
  • pedestrian countermeasure crash modification factor study (focusing on sites and 18 countermeasures in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Miami)
  • a new Road Safety for Transit Patrons Initiative to bring staff from federal agencies to provide technical assistance to transit operators
  • requiring transit agencies to establish policies for encouraging safe access to transit as part of their Transit Agency Safety Plans
  • promoting the improvement of pedestrian networks such as by evaluating new ped facilities for inclusion in the next addition of the federal traffic control device manual in 2016
  • evaluating new law enforcement and education techniques as pilots in New York City, Philadelphia and Louisville, Ky.
  • developing new safety campaign materials

As we gear up for a new pedestrian plan in the City & County of Denver, we at WalkDenver could not be happier about the timing of this announcement. We hope to see the city officials take advantage of these new resources, tools, guidance and research.


The biggest bikeshare station in each US city

New York’s 67-dock station. Photo from Google.

New York’s 67-dock station. Photo from Google.

The largest individual station in Denver’s B-Cycle network, the REI station, has 27 docks. How does that stack up to other cities?

New York’s Citi Bike has by far the biggest stations in the US. Its largest, which is outside Penn Station, has a whopping 67 docks. That’s almost 50% larger than the next city’s largest station.

Here’s the number of docks at the biggest station in America’s main big-city bikeshare systems. The 30 or so US bikeshare systems that aren’t listed here are all smaller, and all have smaller biggest stations.

Largest individual bikeshare station
Rank City Largest station Docks at largest station
1 New York Penn Station 67
2 Boston South Station 46
3 Washington Dupont Circle 45
4 Chicago Michigan/Washington 43
5 Minneapolis Coffman Union and Lake/Knox 32
6 Miami Beach 46th/Collins 31
7t Denver REI 27
7t San Francisco Market/10th and 2nd/Townsend 27