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?

  • rorojo

    Yeah that’s what I never get about lanes that are bus only during rush hour but not during off-peak times. If when traffic is worst you take away a lane why does that lane get to be mixed traffic at other times when it would be used even less?

    • dave

      This is one of the questions that needs to be asked at the next colfax corridor meeting on Jan 20.

      • JerryG

        And at the next Broadway/Lincoln meeting. The current proposals that have been put forth show the transit lane in northern portion of Lincoln will return to a travel lane during off peak times. Four lanes: another recipe for high-speed travel.

    • neroden

      Ah, the goal is to encourage motorists to speed so that they will kill and injure more people. 😉

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