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Archive of posts filed under the Bicycles category.

Denver Plans to Adopt Vision Zero Initiative

The City and County of Denver announced it will officially release next week a Vision Zero Plan, the initiative that’s been adopted by communities around the world that embraces a “zero loss of life” approach to road safety and design. Yesterday, Vision Zero advocates gathered at the City and County Building for a “Valentine’s Day Love-In for Vision Zero” to support the plan and celebrate the city’s announcement.

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Vision Zero supporters at the Denver City and County Building, February 12, 2016. Photo credit: WalkDenver

Organizations pushing for Vision Zero for Denver include WalkDenver, Bike Denver, Transit Alliance, and Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation. Streetsblog Denver has covered the topic extensively.

Congratulations to everyone for advancing this important effort and thank you to Denver for making Vision Zero official city policy! Roadway designs that provide safe accommodations for bicycles and pedestrians, as well as vehicles, are critical to a healthy and equitable city. No one should have to die trying to move about their city.


The Future Transformation of Wynkoop and 21st Streets

Wynkoop in LoDo and 21st Street in Arapahoe Square are very different urban streets. Wynkoop is resplendent with Victorian-era brick warehouses, strong urban form, an attractively streetscaped public realm, and civic icons like Denver Union Station. 21st Street? Surface parking lots and a largely incoherent urban form are the street’s defining characteristics. However, Wynkoop and 21st Street actually have an important attribute in common: neither are through-streets that provide vehicular connectivity beyond their extents, as both streets are capped at both ends by landmarks. Wynkoop terminates at Cherry Creek on one end and at Ballpark Plaza on the other. Similarly, 21st Street stops at Coors Field on one end and at Benedict Fountain Park at the other. This situation makes Wynkoop and 21st Street excellent candidates to be transformed into high quality bike/ped streets while still providing modest vehicular access.

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Diagram courtesy City and County of Denver.

Last night I and about 100 others attended a public meeting held by Denver Community Planning and Development and their planning consultant AECOM to review preliminary plans for such a transformation. Some of the big ideas include a two-block park within the 21st Street right-of-way near Larimer, converting Wynkoop in front of Union Station into essentially an extension of Wynkoop Plaza, creating a signature bike trail along both streets that could form the start of a bigger downtown loop, and reconfiguring the Broadway/21st Street intersection to provide a major mid-block bike/ped crossing of Broadway.

For more information, check out the city’s webpage on the project, and definitely check out David’s excellent overview at Streetsblog Denver.


City Celebrates Opening of New Downtown Protected Bike Lanes

Today, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, along Downtown Denver Partnership CEO Tami Door, Councilman Albus Brooks, and dozens of bicycle riders and advocates, celebrated the official opening of the protected bike lanes along Arapahoe and Lawrence streets in Downtown Denver. These new bike lanes are a big deal for creating a more equitable share of the public right-of-way among transportation modes. Now, bicyclists have their own dedicated portion of the street for safer passage through Downtown Denver and connecting to the Auraria Campus and the Curtis Park neighborhood.

It was a short but fun celebration under a sunny Denver sky, complete with the ribbon-cutting ritual:

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Thanks to DenverUrbanism reader Mike Huggins, here are a few nice shots of the Arapahoe bike lane from above—looking toward the Auraria Campus (left) and toward Arapahoe Square and Curtis Park (right):

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Back at ground level, here’s the finished version of the floating bus stop at 16th and Lawrence that I covered when it was still under construction in October:

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Up next for new protected bike lanes Downtown will be 14th Street, coming Summer 2016.


Rethinking the Broadway-Lincoln Corridor

by Jenny Niemann

At last week’s Denver Moves Broadway public workshop, the City presented a range of options for transforming the Broadway/Lincoln corridor into a safer, more livable place, while improving mobility for all modes. This corridor has been the focus of many City plans. Most recently, the Golden Triangle Neighborhood Plan envisioned Broadway as a “Grand Boulevard.” This workshop sought feedback on alternatives for implementing that neighborhood vision through a redesign of the travel lanes on both roads and placemaking throughout the corridor.

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One of three proposed design alternatives presented by the City. Image courtesy of Denver Public Works.

The City offered three different roadway design alternatives that would provide a protected bike facility on the corridor by removing a lane of traffic on either Broadway or Lincoln. Based on current traffic counts and speeds, City planners assert that Broadway could handle losing a travel lane without much increase in congestion. Providing more space for bikes creates the sort of multi-modal environment that is good for pedestrians, too: removing a lane of traffic and narrowing travel lanes will slow down travel speeds and reduce the distance pedestrians must go to cross the street.

Detail of proposed placemaking elements. Image courtesy of Denver Public Works.

Detail of proposed placemaking elements. Image courtesy of Denver Public Works.

The most interesting part of the workshop was the presentation of placemaking concepts for every block of the corridor. Despite the great mix of shops, restaurants and bars along the corridor, the speeding cars and huge space devoted to them don’t contribute to a welcoming place to walk. Proposed placemaking strategies would provide many more amenities for pedestrians and anyone who wants to enjoy the corridor. Enhancements included curb extensions, or bulb-outs, to reduce crossing distances, parklets, landscaping, enhanced crosswalks, and traffic calming. Pedestrians were clearly the focus here: planners envision pedestrian gathering spaces, activation of surface parking lots fronting the road, and a pedestrian-oriented alley.

Example of a curb extensions that shortens crossing distance. Image courtesy of Denver Public Works.

Example of a curb extensions that shortens crossing distance. Image courtesy of Denver Public Works.

I was encouraged to see the workshop recorded videos of residents talking about their experiences in the corridor, and what they hoped to see in the future. The videos will be compiled to communicate the community’s goals for the corridor. We can hope that residents’ videos will end up providing additional support for making Broadway and Lincoln streets that work for everyone.

If you missed the meeting, you can still learn about the project and provide feedback through a website the city created for the project. Go here to learn more about the project’s background and goals, see the information presented at the workshop, and provide feedback. Submit comments about the design alternatives by November 30, 2015.

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Jenny Niemann is a WalkDenver Policy Committee member and a MURP/MPH graduate student at the University of Colorado Denver


Union Station’s Newest Public Space: Tail Tracks Plaza

The last of the new public spaces at Denver Union Station is nearing completion. Known as Tail Tracks Plaza, this new public space fills the gap between the newly completed Triangle Building (recently profiled at DenverInfill in Part 1 and Part 2) and the EPA Region 8 headquarters building. The gap is the old Wewatta Street right-of-way where Wewatta used to run between Delgany and Wynkoop streets before Union Station was built in 1881.

Here’s a Google Earth image from October 2014 with Tail Tracks Plaza’s location outlined in yellow:

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Why is it called Tail Tracks Plaza? Because until the recent transit infrastructure construction, the historic railroad tracks behind the station building merged into a “tail” that crossed 16th and 15th streets and terminated at Cherry Creek. Here’s a Google Earth image from December 2002 showing the tail tracks crossing 16th Street and merging into a singe track that crossed 15th Street. In this image we also see the Gates building under construction and the old Postal Annex building before its demolition.

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The tail tracks were removed in May 2010.

Tail Tracks Plaza is not yet open to the public, but will be soon. As part of my Triangle Building tour, we checked out the plaza where workers were putting in the finishing touches. Here’s a view from roughly the middle of the plaza looking towards 16th Street. The bold stripe of colored pavers commemorate the historic tail tracks:

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The side of the Triangle Building facing the plaza contains a canopy-covered patio space for restaurant outdoor seating. In the past few days since I took this photo, the canopy structure has been painted a dark grey color to match the Triangle Building’s ground-floor granite and steel elements:

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Near the 15th Street end of the plaza are some big swings for kids and adults to enjoy. The swings can fit two people and are destined to become a favorite photo-taking spot for tourists and locals. The swings are supported by railroad tracks that have been curved and welded together for structural strength; a mechanism at the top prevents the swing from swinging so far as to bump into the neighboring swing but still allows a good three to four foot swing motion in both directions.

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Tail Tracks Plaza was designed by Design Workshop. During my tour, a couple of my Design Workshop friends stopped by to check out the swing installation:

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The other major feature of Tail Tracks Plaza that hasn’t been installed yet is the Bike Station at Denver Union Station. For details about the bike station and the services it will offer, check out our blog post from December 2014. It’s being developed by a non-profit group that has been raising funds over the past year or so. Installation of the light station structure, which will sit on top of the plaza’s stone pavers, should begin within the next few months and be open by the time warmer weather returns in 2016.

The bike station will sit near the 16th Street end of the plaza against the short retaining wall on the right in the image below:

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There are the latest renderings, courtesy of East West Partners:

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We will visit Tail Tracks Plaza again in the spring after the Bike Station is open. The plaza itself should be open for public enjoyment later this month.