DPW Has Plan for Neighborhood Bikeways, Now Electeds Needs to Fund Them
The Department of Public Works is trying to make the city’s east-side neighborhoods better for biking and walking by slowing down traffic and setting aside space solely dedicated to people on bikes and pedestrians. Funding for these projects is uncertain, however. If the projects get funded, they’ll pop up in Congress Park, Cherry Creek, City Park, and other areas east of Colorado Boulevard in the next one to three years.
DPW senior planner Dan Raine presented renderings of proposed “neighborhood bikeways” to residents last night at a meeting in Denver’s East neighborhood. The aim is to dissuade drivers from speeding while creating safe bike and pedestrian connections. Some elements, like small traffic circles, signage, removing travel lanes, and striping bike lanes, have a small price tag. Other projects are more expensive, like installing new traffic signals for bikes and pedestrians, building medians, and buying right of way for trails.
“The simplest things we can do are sometimes not the most effective, and that’s a lot of signing and striping,” Raine said. “Branding a neighborhood bike lane, adding sharrows, adding signage — those can only take you so far, but they really need to be complemented with traffic calming.”
Raine asked residents to prioritize the various projects last night, but the most important — and most expensive — is fixing the treacherous intersection of 12th and Colorado (pictured above). Building a ped-bike trail on East 12th Avenue and connecting it with a bike trail on the other side of Colorado Boulevard would require buying right of way, and construction crews will have to cut up the street to change the traffic pattern. Raine said DPW will have to compete with other city departments for capital funds.
“It’s a tough location to get across,” Raine said. “This is a location that requires substantial investment and coordination with the Colorado Department of Transportation. It’s their roadway, and we know it’s a real barrier to mobility. There’s really no interim treatment here. If we’re going to do it right, if we want to make it more bicycle and pedestrian friendly, we have to rebuild the intersection.”
The intersection of Garfield Street, Dakota Avenue, and Cherry Creek Drive North desperately needs improvements too. DPW wants to repurpose a southbound lane on Cherry Creek North to carve out space for a long-overdue biking and walking connection to the Cherry Creek Trail.
Currently, these streets are designed solely for driving, and DPW’s plan calls for significant infrastructure improvements to make them viable routes for active transportation too. As the Hancock administration and the City Council begin to make decisions about next year’s budget and capital improvement plan, these neighborhood bikeways are the perfect opportunity for elected officials to back up their talk with funding.
The next step for DPW is to prioritize the projects and finalize the designs. In the meantime, here are some other concepts displayed at the meeting last night (click to enlarge):