Today’s Headlines

  • Crossing One of Denver’s Deadliest Streets? DPW Will Make You Wait Longer So Drivers Don’t Have To (Westword)
  • CDOT Chief Mike Lewis Admits Widening Roads Won’t Fix Traffic, Will Widen More Roads — Some With Tolls, at Least (CPR)
  • DenPo Pretends Hyperloop Is Viable Despite Calling Vacuum Tubes “Sci-Fi”
  • …And Hyperloop One Expects Taxpayers to Fund Nonexistent Tech (Fox31)
  • Parks and Rec Vexed that People Walk Most Direct Route, Official Trail or Not (9News)
  • Anti-Transit, Pro-Transit Ballot Measures Could Collide on November Ballot (Independent)
  • Possibly Drunk Driver Injures Woman on I-25 (CBS4)
  • Boulder Fixed Traffic at Chautauqua By Enhancing Transit, Charging for Parking (ABC7)
  • Neighborhood Groups with Money, Connections Have Most Power (Denverite)

National headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • TakeFive

    “Crossing One of Denver’s Deadliest Streets? DPW Will Make You Wait Longer So Drivers Don’t Have To”
    I must have missed that particular part but Michael Roberts’ well-done piece was great insight into the complexities and challenges of (trying to) keep everybody moving.

    • MT

      Probably referring to this.
      “There’s going to be an impact on side streets, and pedestrians will have to wait longer. But it’s much better to move as much volume as we can on Federal than to have drivers wait for a really long time. ”

      Which it seems is simple, deferring to the greater number of people, which in this case are drivers. But this type of planning is the reason there are more people in cars than on foot. Always more time, space, and money put towards cars than anything else. Every time we prioritize cars over pedestrians, we decrease the number of people that will walk and increase the number that will drive instead. Which will cause even more traffic problems.
      It’s a short term strategy that will lead to more trouble in the long term.

      • TakeFive

        What’s been done is so yesterday but the problem is also that fewer peeps are choosing to ride ‘The Ride’ each year, at least on buses. But planning is surely the key and Denver needs a plan to vastly upgrade their transit if they want to get people out of their cars. It’s why (in addition to fun and games) I have revised ‘my’ metro transportation proposal. The Denver specific part would allocate $2.9 billion to transit:

        • MT

          One important piece of upgrading transit is making sure the walking environment once you get off the bus is comfortable and convenient. That means prioritizing pedestrians.
          If I miss my bus because I can’t cross the street in a timely manner, I might just drive instead. If to get on a bus I have to sit alongside a road with thousands of cars whizzing by (moving more volume!) I’m not going to put myself in that environment if I don’t have to. People riding transit deserve dignity. A car prioritized environment does not give them that. They will choose other options if they can, unless we treat transit and people using it like we give a damn about them.

          This isn’t just what has been done in the past. We continue to do it with predictable results. Every time we prioritize cars we encourage more people to drive and fewer people to take transit and walk.

          • MT

            It’s not just about big investments in transit. There are a lot of little inexpensive things that can greatly improve service and how people using transit are treated and how the feel using it.
            Signal timing that gives priority to buses and pedestrians. Slowing car traffic so the street is safer and more pleasant for pedestrians. These things improve transit service and don’t cost much.

          • TakeFive

            Buses and cars use the same road; signal timing priority for pedestrians holds up both modes. I understand the need to safely accommodate pedestrians but prolonging peek time congested roads isn’t pleasant for anybody including pedestrians.

            Any guesses why bus ridership in Denver has been trending lower over the last four years? I’m not aware of the ‘pedestrian experience’ having anything to do with bus ridership. I have heard recent anecdotal feedback of a long-time bus rider giving up on RTD for ride-hailing primarily because there is no dignity on a bus. Read for yourself:

          • MT

            I wouldn’t think timing signals for peds would affect buses. Car traffic slows buses. The solution for that is not to further prioritize car traffic in hopes the bus get to go faster too, it’s to give the bus it’s own space and it’s own signal priority. Dedicated lanes and red light jumps etc. A bus doesn’t need the light to stay green for 2 minutes, it only needs it for a few seconds, at the right moment. Shorter cycles are good for buses.

            Why ridership is down? Only would be a guess, but most of the focus has been on big investments, not on the little things. Every time we prioritize cars over transit and peds adds up.

            Of course the pedestrian experience affects ridership. If the place you have to wait for the bus is a muddy spot on the side of a busy street, what are the odds you’ll take a different mode if you possibly can? If you can’t safely cross the street when you get off the bus to actually get where you’re going, why would you take the bus?

          • TakeFive

            Wait… you’re not seriously suggesting that while cars have to wait until the light turns for pedestrians that buses are allowed to just run over pedestrians? As for bus priority at stop lights it doesn’t work so well in congested traffic; dedicated lanes other than downtown where it’s warranted will never fly unless you’re doing a full BRT corridor which I’ve estimated costs about $250 million per corridor. I’m skeptical that your ‘little things’ are realistic and won’t perceptibly move the needle but best of luck.

          • MT

            No. Why are you making up crazy things that I never said? Sometimes you seem reasonable, and sometimes you seem to not have a clue.

            Red light jumps for buses give buses a signal to go ahead sooner than the green turns for other traffic. It does not happen at the same time as pedestrians have a crossing signal. It gives a bus that has pulled over at a stop the opportunity to get moving ahead of other traffic instead of being stuck waiting to pull out and never getting moving. Also allows buses to pull ahead and move over to the left if they have a left turn coming up.

            Other signal systems can hold a green a few seconds longer if a bus is approaching, or make other adjustments to the cycle to keep buses from waiting, adjusting in real time.

            Dedicated lanes can work anywhere. The main ones Denver has right now are on Broadway and Lincoln, which are not downtown, and they work really really well. Pretty much any major arterial could use them. Like Federal, second busiest bus corridor, not downtown at all. Costs almost nothing, little paint and a few signs.

            These are the types of things that a full BRT does, but can be done incrementally to improve service without having to have millions for a huge BRT project. They make a difference.

            Overall, prioritizing cars at signals makes things more difficult for pedestrians, who are often also transit riders. Prioritizing buses at signals can be done without delaying people on foot, and vice versa.

          • TakeFive

            Buses and other vehicles both have to wait for pedestrians to clear the crosswalk and the light to change before proceeding; otherwise the flow of either isn’t really related to pedestrians; they’re separate issues.

            I understand queue jumps. I hadn’t considered buses needing to pull over for a subsequent left turn; that would be the only reason a queue jump would make sense on dedicated lanes that I can think of.

            Dedicated lanes on Broadway/Lincoln are BRT-in-progress plus on one way streets it’s a piece of cake. On two-way streets dedicated lanes are a different challenge. IMO they need to be part of a complete street makeover to be worth it.

            With respect to signal priority it doesn’t work as good in real (congestion) life as on paper and it works best when combined with other features. See opinion:

          • MT

            Queue jump when you don’t have a dedicated lane is very helpful though.
            There’s lots of places where little things like that can make a big difference. Ignoring them costs riders.

            Waiting for a complete rebuild of the street to put in a transit lane is ridiculous. It only takes paint. There’s no reason you can’t do it on a two way street.

            Sure, the more things you can do the better, that doesn’t mean it has to be all or nothing. The people that drive a ride these routes everyday could tell you what would help them, that’s where we should start.

          • TakeFive

            For four years, more people each year have chosen NOT to ride the bus. That’s where you need to start. RTD needs to offer a more competitive product. More cheap clunky bus service is likely NOT the answer. Just sayin’

          • MT

            Yeah, things that improve service is where to start.
            Things that degrade service is why ridership is down.
            Prioritizing car traffic degrades bus service. Prioritizing car traffic degrades pedestrian access to bus service.

            It’s hard for a transit agency to compete when the streets they operate on are designed to optimize operations for their competition.

          • MT

            From that post, referring to transit in San Francisco, “the riffraff to normal person ratio was actually pretty good”

            I think that’s a good point. When you don’t do the things that make transit useful and dignified, people who have another choice will take another way. Then you’re left with those that have no other option as the only ones on the bus. When you make it useful and dignified, all types of people use it and that ratio gets back to a comfortable area.

    • iBikeCommute

      They didn’t mention that one reason that light cycles are longer is that they had to lengthen the yellow because so many people kept running the red.

    • Camera_Shy

      California solves this problem by having volume-based light timing, not hourglass-based.