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Archive of posts filed under the Pedestrians category.

WalkDenver’s Policy Advocacy Gains Momentum

By Jill Locantore, WalkDenver Policy and Program Director

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Timothy is just one of more than 900 people who have signed (electronically and on paper) WalkDenver’s petition calling upon the City to establish a Pedestrian Advisory Committee and adopt a Denver Moves Pedestrians implementation plan. More than 30 partners have provided letters of support as well–view the full list on the WalkDenver website.

This groundswell of support is having an impact: last week the WalkDenver team met with senior city officials to discuss our policy goals, and was very well received. We learned that the draft 2015 City budget includes funding for a Denver Moves Pedestrians plan. With support from Public Works and Community Planning and Development we have initiated the process of establishing a Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Now we are working to schedule a meeting with the Mayor, to emphasize the importance of walkability in Denver and ensure funding for a pedestrian plan is maintained in the final City budget.

The more petition signatures and support letters we can present to the Mayor, the greater our chances of success. If you haven’t done so already, please sign the petition today, and help us spread the word! If your organization would like to provide a letter of support, contact WalkDenver’s Executive Director Gosia Kung at gosia.kung@walkdenver.org.

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A version of this post also appeared on WalkDenver’s blog at http://www.walkdenver.org/walkdenvers-policy-advocacy-gains-momentum/


A Call to Action: Pedestrian Advocacy on the Move

By Jill Locantore, WalkDenver Policy and Program Director

WalkDenver is working to make Denver the most walkable city in the nation, and recently launched a petition calling on our City officials to take two actions:

Form a Pedestrian Advisory Committee whose role will be to advise city officials, city agencies, and the office of the Mayor on policies, procedures, and infrastructure improvements needed to make Denver a great city for walking.

Establish Denver Moves Pedestrians, a parallel implementation plan to the bicycle-focused Denver Moves plan, so that the City has a clear path forward for improving the pedestrian environment in Denver.

These actions will build on the momentum created by two important milestones in Denver’s pedestrian advocacy movement: In April, Denver was nationally recognized with a “Gold” Walk Friendly Community designation, and in May, Kaiser Permanente awarded WalkDenver a substantial grant to support the organization’s grassroots advocacy work.

Walk Friendly Communities is a national program that recognizes communities working to improve walkability and pedestrian safety. WalkDenver’s dedicated volunteers collaborated with City’s agencies to prepare an extensive application focused on assessing Denver’s current transportation and land use policies.  This effort paid off when Denver received the Gold designation, one of just 13 cities that has achieved this status.  

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Pedestrians at Better Block Jefferson Park
(photo courtesy WalkDenver)

While the Gold designation signals that Denver is on the right track, the City still has work to do. The website WalkScore.com ranks Denver as the 17th most walkable large city in the U.S., behind other western cities such as  Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco. The Alliance for Biking & Walking 2014 Benchmarking report ranks Denver 36th out of 52 large metro areas on per capita spending on pedestrian and bicycle projects. Similarly, a recent report on walkable urbanism from LOCUS ranked Denver 14th out of 30 metropolitan areas.

Now with a major grant from Kaiser Permanente, WalkDenver has grown from a primarily volunteer-based organization to a professionally-staffed advocacy group, and is poised to make significant progress toward improving the pedestrian environment in Denver. In addition to collecting petition signatures, WalkDenver is also gathering letters of support from partner organizations, as well as seeking individual and corporate sponsors for both its advocacy work and additional Better Block events.  

Join the effort by signing WalkDenver’s petition today!  For more information, visit the WalkDenver website, or contact WalkDenver Executive Director Gosia Kung at gosia.kung@walkdenver.org.

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A version of this post also appeared on WalkDenver’s blog at http://www.walkdenver.org/a-call-to-action-pedestrian-advocacy-on-the-move/


FasTracks Progress: Union Station Transit Complex Opens!

It’s been a long, long time coming, but the $500 million Denver Union Station Transit Center is COMPLETE and will open for transit operations tomorrow! This is undoubtedly a game changer for downtown Denver and represents the realization of nearly three decades of planning efforts, if not more. Ryan D. covered the grand opening ceremonies in two posts (parts one and two) yesterday on DenverInfill.

The Denver Union Station Transit Center (any ideas for a nickname?) consists of three major transit components: light rail (open in 2011), bus (open now), and commuter rail (coming in 2016). Let’s take a look at each of those components and how they fit into one of the most expensive infrastructure investments since Denver International Airport.

RTD has produced (and agreed to share) this great image that gives a general overview as to how the three components fit together and where the different modes provide service to.

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The locations and facilities labeled in orange on the image above are now complete and will be open for the general public on Sunday, May 11, 2014. The Chestnut, Wewatta, and Union Station Pavilions provide the three main entrances to the underground bus station, complete with stairs, escalators, and elevators. The Platform 2 and Platform 4 Pavilions provide access from the Commuter Rail platform with stair and elevator access to the underground bus concourse (no escalators).

The light rail facility was relocated in 2011 and served as the first major component completed at Union Station as part of this massive project. This new station replaced the previous light rail platform which was located just south of Wewatta Street (right about where the Wewatta Pavilion is today). The 16th Street MallRide was also extended 2-3 blocks to serve the new light rail station at the same time.

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The underground bus station (which again….nickname?) is a sight to behold. A behemoth at 140 feet wide and 980 feet long, this 22-bay bus station has more than twice the capacity of Market Street’s 10 bays. The pedestrian concourse isn’t anything to sneeze at, coming in at 44 feet wide and 780 feet long. Every bus that services Market Street Station today will service Union Station, in addition to the free MetroRide. Buses from Greyhound as well as other private bus companies are a possibility in the future (no definitive plans as of yet). CDOT announced this week that its new inter-regional bus system—which will connect Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, and Glenwood Springs (and points in between) with downtown Denver—will serve the underground bus station. This new service starts sometime next year!

DenverUrbanism and DenverInfill have tackled the bus station through several previous posts, so I won’t bombard you with pictures here, but let’s take a look at some before-and-after pictures of the bus facility. Better yet, head on down and take a look for yourself. Honestly, I was wary when I heard about the yellow tile (can anyone say outdated and tacky?) but I think it turned out great. Combined with the seven skylights, it really helps brighten the facility up and makes it seem even larger (if that was possible).

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The final and the most visible and stunning piece of transit infrastructure at Union Station has to be the commuter rail platform. Denver is known for lots of things (300 sunny days each year, active lifestyles, marijuana, etc.) but stunning and modern architecture tends to not make most people’s lists. This canopy will serve as an iconic welcome to those who arrive in downtown Denver by transit, whether it be the coming commuter rail lines, bus, or light rail.

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Union Station is big. It’s expensive. It’s important. It serves as the hub of the $6+ billion, decade-long infrastructure investment that is FasTracks. It will serve as the heart of transit throughout metro Denver. It will change how tens of thousands of people access downtown Denver on a daily basis. Get down there and take a look. Wander around. We all paid for it, and after decades of planning and years of construction, we can finally cash in on this investment.


“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.