The Denver Streetsies: Broadway Redesign Wins, Widening I-70 Loses
What were the best and worst changes to Denver’s streets last year? Readers told us over the holidays by voting for the Streetsie Awards, and the results are in.
Let’s raise the curtain on 2016’s winners and losers.
It wasn’t even close. The redesign of South Broadway between Bayaud and Virginia avenues was the runaway winner for the coveted Best Street Transformation award.
Over the summer, Denver Public Works repurposed a general travel lane to create a two-way, parking-protected bike lane. The road diet and bikeway are a welcome change on Broadway, which needs major changes to tame speeding traffic. But make no mistake, this half-mile segment is just the beginning of a much larger transformation on the Broadway/Lincoln corridor. DPW will test improvements to Broadway’s bus-only lane this year, and continue studying the bike lane with an eye toward extending it to Colfax Avenue and beyond.
This #StreetFail was part of an otherwise great redesign of the intersection at 17th and Wynkoop in front of Union Station, which is now much safer for pedestrians. But the plastic posts, which DPW installed on the gutter side of the bike lane, let drivers park in it at will. There’s reason to believe this design could change in 2017.
While other cities tear down 20th-century freeways to create 21st-century people-friendly streets, Colorado DOT is trying to ram a wider I-70 through the mostly Latino, mostly low-income neighborhoods of Elyria, Swansea, and Globeville. It’s the wrong direction for an ostensibly progressive city.
The feds are investigating a civil rights complaint filed by some neighborhood advocates against the project. Other groups are suing over air quality and a flood mitigation project, so this story is not going away in 2017.
Resistance to I-70 gives readers hope, but they’re even more optimistic about the Hancock administration’s long-term planning initiative — Denveright. The overhaul of the city’s plans for transit, pedestrian infrastructure, land use, and parks should be complete, or close to it, by the end of this year.
Readers said the Hancock administration’s commitment to ending traffic deaths and serious injuries was the most important development for people-first streets — beating RTD’s real-time bus information by a hair. While Hancock has allocated money for some one-off projects under the Vision Zero banner, his overall street safety strategy is still in development, with a plan expected this year. With traffic deaths on the rise, a real Vision Zero plan can’t come soon enough.
Readers are fed up with drivers parking in bike lanes and getting a free pass from Denver PD and Denver Public Works. The City Council’s decision to require parking where it wasn’t required before — which increases rents and encourages driving — was runner-up.
Our local paper of record won this Streetsie with an editorial that threw its full weight behind CDOT’s I-70 widening. The Denver Post based its opinion on antiquated transportation planning principles and in spite of evidence that bigger, expensive highways just lead to more traffic. When the city’s most prominent paper supports a project as bad as this one, it deserves this notoriety.
That’s a wrap for 2016’s winners and losers. Now let’s get started on 2017’s nominees.