Eyes on the Street: 19th and 20th Avenues Go Two-Way — Plus Protected Bike Lanes Uptown
Denver Public Works repurposes a lane for people on bikes. Grant and Logan streets will go two-way later this spring.
Denver Public Works wrapped up a set of safety improvements on 19th and 20th avenues today, converting them from speedy one-way roads to people-friendly two-way streets.
The project encompasses the .7 miles from Broadway to just east of Park Avenue. Debuting today are the two-way configuration, painted bike lanes, and sidewalk bulb-outs at corners. There is now one lane for motor traffic in each direction on 19th.
Still to be completed are curb-protected bike lanes on three blocks of 19th, from Broadway to Grant, which will be finished in the next couple of days.
Between Broadway and Park Avenue, 20th Avenue is now two-way with striped bike lanes on most of the stretch and sharrows on part of it. Logan and Grant will both be converted later this spring.
At 19 corners, DPW has added “bulb-outs,” or concrete curb extensions that shorten crossing distances for pedestrians and make drivers take turns more carefully. Drivers won’t be tempted to blast through green signals or beat yellow lights, either, because crews replaced some traffic signals with stop signs.
Hancock and DPW Executive Director Eulois Cleckley tested out the new design by bike today.
This $3.5 million overhaul is a significant transformation, but it also raises the question of what took so long. The new streets opened six years after the project was initiated during the mayor’s first term.
Hancock said “cost” and “a shift in culture” account for the long timetable.
“We’re also creatures of habit, so you can’t just plop in a two-way when it’s been a one-way all this time,” he said. “We gotta take the time to inform the community and really bring the community along… you gotta do the things necessary to inform people that things are changing and that behavior and their instincts have to change. So there is a process.”
Yet for people like Donald Rogan, the payoff is immediate — no culture change necessary.
“I usually ride on the sidewalk when there’s not a bike lane, because it’s too dangerous to ride on the streets,” said Rogan, who used the new lane on 19th this morning. “Law enforcement don’t mess with me, because it’s too dangerous to ride in the streets. Now that the bike lanes are here, it’s more accessible to downtown and to where I stay.”
To reach Hancock’s is goal of doubling the share of trips taken by foot, by bike, and on transit, Denver will have to act faster.
DPW is trying to become “more strategic to deliver the projects at a quicker pace,” said Cleckley, who Hancock hired to break the transportation department out of public works. He’s in the midst of hiring 61 employees to speed things up, he said.