With Two-Way Conversion, Blake Street Is About to Get Better For Everyone

blake-street-after-conversion
Image: Streetmix

Blake Street will soon resemble a neighborhood street instead of a speedway for cars.

Today Denver Public Works began converting Blake from a one-way road to a two-way street with bike lanes. The redesign, which runs from Broadway to 35th Street, should calm car traffic and make Blake a safer place to walk, bike, and drive. This stretch of Blake saw 44 crashes between 2012 and 2015, according to city crash data. Two-waying the street should reduce speeding and prevent collisions — crashes fell by 60 percent after a similar conversion in Louisville.

“Although intersections of two-way streets have more conflicting maneuvers, one-way streets correlate with decreased levels of driver attention,” wrote transportation researcher Vikash V. Gayah in a recent report in Access Magazine [PDF]. “One-way streets also allow higher travel speeds since signal timing results in less frequent stops for vehicles.”

Wide lanes contribute to high driving speeds as well, and Blake Street’s two lanes are each a whopping 16 feet wide. They’ll be trimmed to 11 feet. Ten-foot lanes would make more sense on a street like Blake, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials. That unnecessary space could go toward a roomier bike lane.

blake-street-today
Image: Streetmix

Researchers have also linked one-way to two-way conversions with lower crime rates and higher property values. Two-way streets can improve the convenience of transit, too, since people can catch the bus on the same street for both legs of roundtrips. And people biking or driving get less circuitous routes to reach their destinations.

Plenty of Denver streets could benefit from a similar conversion (including Blake Street southwest of Broadway), but Blake’s new design seems particularly timely. It should make getting to the new 38th and Blake RTD station easier by bike and on foot. It will also connect bicyclists and pedestrians to a redesigned Brighton Boulevard, once that project is finished.

Public Works will finish Blake’s two-way conversion Friday.

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