Denver Public Works Built a Bike Lane-Protected Gutter

Photo: David Sachs

Over the last few weeks, Denver Public Works has been working to improve walking and biking conditions at 17th and Wynkoop near Union Station. With the A-Line opening and more foot traffic on the way, the old design wasn’t going to cut it.

Streetsblog posted photos of the changes when they were almost complete a couple of weeks ago. Now DenverUrbanism has published some great before-and-after photos of the finished project.

With this project, DPW intended to stop drivers from blocking crosswalks and the bike lane. While the new crosswalks are an improvement, the bike lane design isn’t working out. One decision in particular will make you scratch your head: Crews installed protective bollards on the gutter side of the bike lane, leaving nothing to stop drivers from blocking the bike lane. That’s exactly what’s been happening.

Photo: David Sachs

Why choose this design? According to a DPW employee, “the bollards were meant to help prioritize the intersection for pedestrians by discouraging illegal parking in the intersection and discourage illegal turns, and visually direct pedestrians where to cross,” not to create a protected bike lane.

The bollard placement doesn’t seem to be working — illegal parking in the intersection continues. Putting the bollards on the other side of the bike lane seems like it would get the message across much more effectively.

Hopefully this snafu can be fixed quickly, because the redesign was a good idea by and large. On the intersection’s east corners, painted curb extensions, or bulb-outs, expand space for pedestrians, make the crossing shorter, and should make drivers turn more carefully. The bulb-outs are protected by bollards, which as far as I know is a first for Denver. The crosswalks are painted bright green, as are parts of the Wynkoop Street bike lanes. Bike parking, a B-Cycle station, and car-share-only parking have supplanted metered parking spaces on Wynkoop. There’s also a new passenger loading zone.

A simple adjustment to the bollard placement should help salvage the Wynkoop and 17th project and make it a win all around.

Photo: David Sachs