- Practice Areas
While our shelter-at-home experience in early 2020 was remarkable and difficult on many levels, I think it’s safe to say that we learned a lot about ourselves. (I, for example, discovered that I have a passion for overlanding gear!) We also learned new ways of doing things, some good, some bad. I’d say the explosion of online shopping (and cardboard box proliferation) was something I’d like to see retract a bit. However, there was one innovation I found absolutely transformative and I’d like to see it maintained: Shared and Open Streets.
Hats off to the City of Denver, which saw how much people were getting outside and walking or biking during their lockdown. We weren’t allowed to go to school or work, but we needed to get OUTSIDE! One of my employees lives near a side street that is busy with pedestrians in a normal year, but during lockdown, she said it was like living near a parade every single day. People walked by the hundreds!
We found, though, that if we had to share the roads with cars, it was nearly impossible to social distance (especially on Denver’s lousy sidewalks). So, the city instituted Shared and Open Roads – a stroke of genius!
Suddenly, all over town, barricades and signs popped up, alerting drivers that they had two options:
Thanks to these efforts, it was safe to walk down the street! And we could socially distance easily. Even more people got out of their homes to hit the streets. How many people took advantage of this new freedom? Glad you asked!
In April 2020, the Denver Streets Partnership released bicycle and pedestrian data demonstrating that some Shared Streets had seen pedestrian and bicycle use jump from 351 per day to 1,700. They also collected feedback from those using the new city amenities:
So clearly, the changes were popular. But where do we stand more than a year later?
On August 7, The Denver Post reported that some of the streets were being reopened to normal traffic.
Since social distancing is no longer required, the shared streets program that was meant to give cooped up Denverites more outdoor space is no longer needed, DOTI spokeswoman Nancy Kuhn said. But city officials recognize the program was popular and are looking into making some shared streets a permanent fixture around town.
Staying closed (for now):
Weigh In on Denver’s Plans
I would personally like to see the city keep the existing Shared and Open streets and expand the program to make it safer for us to walk and bike around town. If you agree, take this DenverStreetsPartnership survey and sign their petition.
Let’s make Denver more walkable and bikeable!