Cheesman Park Was Supposed to Have Fewer Cars, Not More

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Photo: David Sachs

Last week Streetsblog reported on a new strip of parking that Denver Parks and Recreation created in Cheesman Park after neighbors complained of parking “shortages” on nearby streets. What should be a haven for people walking, biking, and playing now has 22 more parking spots — on top of the 168 it already had.

Parks and Rec used to have a different goal for the park — envisioning it with less car traffic, not more. The department has an official plan from 2008 that called for restricting driving at Cheesman “to reduce commuter traffic through the park.”

“One of the primary goals of this master plan is to create a pedestrian-oriented park,” the Cheesman Park Master Plan states.

Here are some solid recommendations from the plan. City decision makers have ignored all of them:

  • Close all but four vehicular entrances to cars. There are eight.
  • Install pedestrian tables where trails cross the park road.
  • Add seven pedestrian-only entrances.
  • Install a pedestrian crossing with striping at East 8th Avenue and Williams Street to provide safer crossing.

So much for making Cheesman a pedestrian-oriented park, now that Parks and Rec is installing more places for drivers to store their vehicles.

You have to wonder, as the Hancock administration embarks on its Denveright plans, whether these ostensibly transformational blueprints for the future of the city will lead to real change or just collect dust on the shelf.

Here’s a simple idea: Make Cheesman off-limits to private cars altogether, but allow RTD buses. Auto-free days already occur on the second Sunday of each month in the summer, and life goes on.

Thanks to reader and tipster iBikeCommute.

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