Larimer Between 14th and Auraria Campus Receives Bike-Ped Upgrades

Sometimes a fairly small improvement can have a big impact on how friendly a street feels for bicycles and pedestrians.

For example, take the stretch of Larimer Street between the Auraria Campus and 14th Street. For years, Larimer has had one eastbound bus-only lane, two to three westbound vehicle lanes, narrow sidewalks, and no bike lanes, giving this stretch of Larimer Street a very automobile-dominant feel—a sad situation made even worse by the fact that it intersects with Speer Boulevard, a 10-lane monster that separates downtown from the Auraria Campus.

So today when I spotted some new improvements to this stretch of Larimer, it made me happy. The bus lane is gone (apparently RTD was no longer using it) and, rather than converting the bus lane to another travel lane for cars, it has been re-striped, bollards added, and converted to bicycle and pedestrian space. Way to go Denver Public Works!

The segment from 14th to the path through Creekfront Plaza leading to the Cherry Creek Trail is now a buffered bike lane. Here’s the new look as viewed from 14th Street and then back toward 14th Street:

New bike lane on Larimer Street from Creekfront Plaza to 14th Street
New bike lane on Larimer Street from Creekfront Plaza to 14th Street

The rest of the block over the bridge has been striped as a no-car zone. The sidewalk on the bridge over Cherry Creek is ridiculously narrow, so this no-car zone gives pedestrians more space and relief from feeling pinned against the bridge railing.

New no-car zone on Larimer Street bridge over Cherry Creek

The pedestrian environment on the segment of Larimer in between the two directions of Speer has been similarly pitiful. Again we have a sidewalk that is far too narrow for the flow of people between downtown and the campus, and the adjacent ugly parking lot only adds insult to injury. Now, this stretch has also been striped as a no-car zone with bollards, as seen in the two images below:

New pedestrian enhancements on Larimer between northbound and southbound Speer Boulevard

Note to Public Works: you can get rid of that “Curb Lane – Buses Only” sign that is leaning into the pedestrian through zone.

These improvements are critical, given that Larimer is a major pedestrian corridor between the Auraria Campus and downtown, with thousands of students making the crossing every day during the school year. This important Downtown-Auraria link was identified as one of the seven Transformative Projects (“Connecting Auraria”) in the 2007 Downtown Area Plan.

But wait, it gets better! These improvements are good for the short-term, but a permanent fix may be coming. In the 2017 GO Bond transportation ballot measure that Denver voters will approve (I’m optimistic) in November is $7 million for “Larimer Bridge Reconstruction and Pedestrian Improvements.” Here’s the language from the GO Bond Projects Summary document:

This project will improve the pedestrian experience on Larimer between 14th and the Auraria Campus. Currently the sidewalks along the Larimer bridge over Cherry Creek are narrow (just 5’ on the south side) and do not support the high demand from pedestrians who regularly use Larimer to connect between Downtown and the campus. A full reconstruction of the bridge will allow a much wider structure (up to 88’) and accommodate a significantly larger pedestrian and amenity zone area. Funding will also help address the non-ADA compliant ramps that are currently located at the bridge approach and at two intersections where Larimer crosses north and southbound Speer. This is a significant challenge due to the current placement of both drainage and signal system infrastructure. Finally, this funding will allow for an upgrade to light fixtures, street furniture, planters, trees or other landscape improvements that could ultimately be maintained by the Auraria Higher Education Center.

Just one of many great reasons to vote YES on the 2017 GO Bond!

By | 2017-09-10T13:45:42+00:00 September 10, 2017|Categories: A Feature Post, Bicycles, Infrastructure, Pedestrians|6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. […] DPW Converts Defunct Bus Lane on Larimer Street Into Space for People Walking and Biking (DenverUrbanism) […]

  2. […] unused bus lane on Larimer Street has been converted to a protected bike lane, which should improve biking from Auraria across Cherry Creek and into downtown. […]

  3. Logan September 11, 2017 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    This is just what that area needed. For anyone making connections by bike from the Cherry Creek trail to downtown or Auraria, the super thin sidewalk has “no biking signs” and was about a 50 foot section of no bikerland between the awesome 14th st bike lane and the connection point for the Cherry Creek Trail. Way to go DPW!

  4. David September 11, 2017 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    I stumbled upon this last week and agree it is a brilliant fix making access to Larimer square from the bike path so much easier. The only improvement I would suggest is to add a bike lane towards Speer on part of the striped area.

  5. Fred Glick September 12, 2017 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    Also significant in that I don’t think we’ve seen much in the way of contra-flow bike lanes in Denver. Is this the first, or are there others?

  6. James September 24, 2017 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    Why would they spend all that money to rebuild the entire cherry creek bridge when there is a huge ‘no car zone’ they could use to make the sidewalk wider. IE the bridge is already wide enough, just needs to be re-allocated.

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