Stock Show Parade Boots Cars Off 17th Street, Other Streets Hold Up Fine
Here’s something to keep in mind when you hear someone say there’s not enough room on city streets for bike lanes or better pedestrian infrastructure — or when decision makers insist on widening already deadly streets. Denver’s traffic congestion can be bad at times in certain places, just like every other decent-sized American city, but downtown Denver during most of the workday is not one of those places.
Case in point: Today was the annual National Western Stock Show parade, a pretty great tradition where cowgirls, cowboys, horses, livestock, and all things Western march down 17th Street from Union Station to Broadway. The spectacle shunted car traffic off 17th, a major one-way thoroughfare out of downtown.
While drivers were diverted from 17th, did traffic on nearby streets grind to a halt? Nope. Blake, 15th, 18th, Market — all these streets experienced little-to-no disruption during the parade, as shown in the above video.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who spends time downtown on weekdays. Most streets in the city center are designed to move a lot of car traffic during a few hours of the day, but 90 percent of the time they are largely empty.
All this excess space for cars can be put to much better use if we repurpose it for walking, biking, and transit. How can downtown streets be reimagined to create better spaces for people?