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Archive of posts filed under the Pedestrians category.

“Sneckdowns” reveal street space cars don’t use

Every time it snows, vast sections of city streets remain covered by snow long after plows and moving cars have cleared the travel lanes. These leftover spaces are called “sneckdowns,” and they show where sidewalks or medians could replace roads without much loss to car drivers.

Photo by Anne G on flickr.

The term sneckdown is a portmanteau of “snow” and “neckdown,” the latter being another term for sidewalk curb extensions. So it literally means a sidewalk extension created by snow.

New York’s biggest urbanist blog, Streetsblog, put out a call for photos of sneckdowns in the wild earlier this winter. They’ve received plenty of responses.

Be on the lookout for these as winter continues to roll along.

Colored lanes aren’t just safe, they send a message

Denver’s 15th Street bike lane is the latest in a growing trend around the world to paint bike lanes in bright colors. These bright markings make cycling safer, by reminding car drivers to watch out for cyclists when driving across bike lanes. That’s a great benefit, and it works, but there’s a second benefit, that’s as big a deal for non-cyclists as it is to cyclists.

Green paint on Seattle’s Broadway cycletrack.

The broader benefit to green-painted bike lanes is simple: They send the clearest-possible message that roads are not only for cars.

Despite a century of sharing roads, and despite the fact that people walked, biked, and rode trolleys in streets long before most people owned cars, there’s a strong entitlement mentality among some drivers that roads are only for cars. A 5 second google search turns up plenty of examples.

Green-painted bike lanes accomplish what a white stripe next to the parking lane cannot. They proclaim loudly and clearly that streets are not merely sewers for traffic, through which to funnel as many cars as possible to the detriment of all else, but rather they’re fully multimodal public spaces. Colored bike lanes send the message that drivers are welcome to use roads just like everyone else, but must not expect to have roads completely to themselves.

These painted lanes are public relations features as much as they are safety features, and that matters.

Incidentally, the trick works for transit too.

Red-painted bus lanes in New York. Photo by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid.

Pecos Street Bridge – Impressive Time Lapse Videos

For those of us who travel through the Northwest side of town the Pecos Street Bridge over Interstate-70 has been out of commission for some time now and over the weekend Interstate-70 was closed between Interstate-25 and Federal Boulevard. Pretty soon this bridge will be back open and include a new pedestrian bridge connecting the Chaffee Park and Sunnyside neighborhoods and Roundabouts on either sides of the highway on Pecos.

Thanks to CDOT there are some very interesting time lapse videos available to us of the entire bridge construction process,

and possibly even more impressive the successful roll-in of the 2,400 ton bridge which was completed over the weekend; 4.5 hours ahead of schedule.

Community Spotlight: Walk2Connect

Today I would like to spotlight Walk2Connect; a local organization that is continuously working to make slow-paced comfortable travel around our town more common and acceptable. Throughout the year Walk2Connect organizes group walks along predetermined routes in hopes to explore seldom seen roads, neighborhoods and businesses, as well as develop more familiar connections between communities.

This summer Walk2Connect will be hosting multiple events around town, highlighted by their largest event the NE Walk Fest on August 24th. The NE Walk Fest will bring walkers through three Northeast Denver neighborhoods: Park Hill, Stapleton and Montclair along easy walking loops between neighborhood events located at Holly Square, the Green in Stapleton and McNichols Park.

Similar walking events through Stapleton & NW Aurora, Highlands and City Park are scheduled this summer as well as a few outside of the metro area. Other walks such as the RTD Connect – Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Walk, Rail, Dine – Denver to Golden, incorporates transit into a walk pushing the limits on the traditional transit oriented experience.

All in all getting out and exploring by foot is the best way to get to know an area and encourage others to feel comfortable getting around by foot. Whether it is with an organized event like Walk2Connect or just your daily commute, enjoy your surroundings by walking more this summer.

Also, if you decide to participate in a Walk2Connect event, be sure to ask Walk2Connect founder Jonathon Stalls his inspiration for starting this organization…very cool story!

Denver’s Pro-Bicycle/Pedestrian City Council

In April, the Denver City Council set “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety and Infrastructure” (PDF) as one of its top priorities for 2014. As further evidence of that commitment, Denver City Councilwomen Susan  Shepherd (District 1) and Debbie Ortega (At Large) recently authored a commentary about Council’s goal to improve Denver’s bike/ped infrastructure. We’re happy to share their message here:

By Susan Shepherd and Debbie Ortega, Denver City Council

As a society, our public spaces are a reflection of who we are. They tell the story of how we care for our most vulnerable and demonstrate the value we place on the experiences that occur while walking along our streets or sipping a cup of coffee on a sidewalk café. The places that we share with each other can be great and they can be inspiring, but these same opportunities for greatness can also be lost when our public places are designed primarily for cars and not people.

The national “complete street”s movement seeks to address this very problem and advocates that streets be designed for the safety of all users — pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motorists, which becomes especially important as more and more people are walking and biking to their destinations.

As members of the Denver City Council, we take this responsibility very seriously, a fact demonstrated by our recent vote to nominate bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure one of our top budget priorities for 2014.

With this decision, we are thinking about the diverse residents and visitors to the Mile High City: the student who is putting himself through school by serving food at a local restaurant, wants to live in the city, and could afford it if he gave up his car, but feels alternative transportation options are too limited to make that choice.

We also consider the older widow who has sold her home of many years because she could no longer care for it and has also chosen to give up her car. She would love to continue living in the neighborhood she raised her family in, where she has friends, but are there affordable housing options that are close to transit? Is the sidewalk network consistent enough for her to get around safely?

As a city, we need to remember that 40 percent of people do not drive, and the design of our streets should represent that. Those 40 percent are children, seniors, the disabled, people who can’t afford a car, and baby boomers and Millenials who are choosing not to own one.

Recently, with the rousing encouragement of the biking community, the Public Works Department changed direction and decided to pilot a protected bike lane along 15th Street. We hope to see more such pilot projects and that those projects become permanent.

In our role as council members, we’ll be doing our part to encourage an accelerated implementation of Denver’s bike and pedestrian plan, Denver Moves. Right now, only about 5 percent of the plan is implemented each year; we’d like to see that increase to at least 10 percent next year, with more in subsequent years. In order to accomplish that goal, it is essential that we hire more planners who focus solely on designing pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

We also hope to soon see an update to Denver’s right-of-way regulations so they prioritize pedestrian and bike uses above cars. This includes updating the permitting process for bicycle parking infrastructure. Also, when Denver hires a new chief traffic engineer, we will encourage Mayor Michael Hancock and the manager of Public Works, Jose Cornejo, to hire an experienced complete streets champion.

We’ve heard from so many parents, students, older adults, health officials, land-use experts, neighborhood activists and businesses who want to see safer, more accessible options for pedestrians, cyclists and users of alternative transportation. We are listening! There are also many organizations working in Denver to make your streets the places you love to be and safe for all users. Although by no means an exhaustive list, we encourage you to connect with Walk Denver, Bike Denver, the Transit Alliance, CNU Colorado, Denver B-Cycle, and the many other local complete streets advocates.

We need you to keep speaking for your streets, connecting with your city council representatives, your mayor, and others. Denver is ripe for this movement to complete our streets and move forward in designing them for people. You have a council that supports you; together we can take hold of this opportunity for greatness.

DenverUrbanism greatly appreciates the leadership and advocacy of Councilwomen Shepherd and Ortega and the rest of the Denver City Council for their support for better bike/ped infrastructure and safety improvements!

Please contact your city councilperson and let them know that you agree with making bike/ped infrastructure a top priority for the city.