South Broadway corridor to undergo further changes, evaluation

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DENVER — Changes are coming to the South Broadway corridor in Denver.

One of the busiest stretches in Denver has already seen recent transportation enhancements. Bike enthusiasts love it, but business owners are not happy.

“The evaluation is trending successfully but we still have a lot to learn,” project manager Dan Raine said.

Denver Public Works’ next phase includes bikeway and transit enhancement stretching from Virginia Avenue, where the current two-way bike lane ends, to Cherry Creek.

“Change is challenging,” Raine said. “With 40-plus people moving here per day, if we do nothing to the Broadway corridor, then we don’t improve safety or mobility for all.”

James Waddell, the executive director for nonprofit Bike Denver, said the cycling community is pushing for improvements.

“If we want to think of ourselves as a true biking city, we have some work to do,” Waddell said.

Those changes are one the way. The peak hours-only bus lane on South Broadway will convert to 24 hours. The two-way bike lane will stay and continue to be evaluated.

According to data recorded by Denver Public Works, pace of traffic on South Broadway from Colfax Avenue to Interstate 25 was an average of 11 minutes, 50 seconds.

Post-bike lane installation, the average travel time bumped up just 9 seconds, to 11 minutes, 59 seconds.

“We had 26 people die on the streets of Denver last year biking or walking,” Waddell said. “If it takes me 11 minutes to get here before the  bike lane and now 11 minutes, 20 seconds after — I’m down for that if it means we have less people dying on the roads.”

A time-lapse camera was set up next to the lane in peak hours, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. On a beautiful weather day, there were eight bikers and one skateboarder.

Depending on whom you ask, those numbers prove a point.

“The more protected bike lanes we see in Denver, the more people we can get riding,” Waddell said.

“I see it used very rarely, maybe once an hour during the day, sometimes none,” said Mark Gunn, an employee at one South Broadway shop.

Many business owners along the corridor did not want to go on camera in fear of repercussions, but their message is strong.

“It costs a lot of money for the city of Denver taxpayers, and businesses are losing business so the sales tax revenue is going down,” Gunn said.

Business owners cite many issues with the bike lanes. Parking problems, congested traffic and they say it’s even more dangerous now for riders and drivers.

“We’ve eliminated a whole lane on one of the busiest roadways for maybe 25 bikes a day,” Gunn said.

Denver Public Works said the project and evaluation will continue.

“The idea of doing this evaluation and small install is to push the needle to challenge all of us to make that slight change,” Raine said.

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