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Virtual Public Meeting: Washington Park Mobility and Access

May 19, 2020

 

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Over 135 people joined a virtual town hall to learn about mobility and safety projects in the Washington Park are:

  • Final design for the Marion Parkway Protected Bike Lane
  • Design plans for a new signal at Marion Parkway and Virginia Avenue
  • Reconstruction of several traffic signals on Downing Street
  • Recommendations from the Downing Street pedestrian crossing and speed study
  • Recommendations from the Alameda Avenue “After” Study 

Watch the presentation


Meeting Questions & Answers

Who will maintain the bike lane? 
The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure will maintain the new protected bike lane on Marion Parkway, including snow and debris removal. 

Do bicyclists have to use the bike lane? Can they use the travel lane to pass slower cyclists? Can cyclists ride more than two abreast? 
The majority of cyclists typically operate within a 3’ space. When installed, the protected bike lane will be 6.5’ wide between the median curb and the new cast-in-place curb (protective barrier) for the majority of the corridor. (There may be exceptions where the bike lane is slightly narrower if variations in the roadway width exist.)  This means that along the majority of the bike lane, bicyclists may be able to pass other cyclists within the protected bike lane facility. 

However, bicyclists can also use the travel lane to pass slower users of the bike lane, avoid debris, or if conditions become unsafe in the bike lane.  

For further information about Bicycling Laws in Colorado, please visit:

Why was Marion chosen for a protected bike lane facility?
Marion Parkway was recommended to become a protected bike facility as part of the 2016 update to Denver Moves: Bikes (Denver’s master plan for the existing and planned bicycle network) due to high number of users and existing safety concerns. Marion Parkway is considered a “backbone” to Denver’s growing bicycle network, connecting the Downing St sidepath that links to the Cherry Creek Trail on the north, and to Washington Park on the south, two regional assets in our recreational system. Data indicates that Marion Parkway sees similar levels of pedestrians and cyclists users as the Cherry Creek Trail. Crash data indicates that safety improvements are needed as multiple collisions between vehicles and cyclists have occurred. Through thoughtful design, the installation of a protected bicycle facility will help to reduce the number of crashes along Marion Parkway.  

Design and construction for the Marion Parkway protected bike lane is funded through the  Elevate Denver Bond Program. In 2017, voters approved the Elevate Denver Bond Program, which included design and construction funds for 17 miles of bond-funded high comfort bike facilities, to improve connections between Denver’s neighborhoods and destinations and meet the goals in the Mayor's Mobility Action Plan and Denver's Vision Zero Action Plan

Why will the new protected bike lane be along the median?
Moving the protected bike lane to run adjacent to the Marion Parkway median helps to reduce potential conflicts with the parking lane, the “door zone,” loading zones, school bus zones and minimizes conflicts with turning vehicles at intersections.

Did DOTI consider removing parking all together on S Marion Parkway in order to make the bike lane wider?
It was determined that parking removal was not necessary. Marion Parkway is a unique corridor in that there is enough space within the public right-of-way to accommodate a parking lane, a travel lane, and a protected bike lane in each direction. Through design, conflicts with parking were removed by shifting the bike lane to run adjacent to the center median. Needed loading and parking zones are able to be maintained in front of the three condominium towers as well as in front of Steele Elementary School.  

How will the new S Marion Parkway and E Bayaud Avenue intersection work?
There are two major changes to the Marion Pkwy and Bayaud Ave Intersection. The objective of these changes is to maximize the safety for bicyclists and pedestrians crossing to-and-from the Downing sidepath and travelling along Marion Parkway.

The first major change is that the portion of Bayaud Ave that is in the middle of S Marion Pkwy (the median) will be closed to vehicular traffic. This reduces conflicts between cyclists and vehicles and also creates a safe space for northbound cyclists to queue and orient themselves perpendicular to S Marion Parkway so that they can better see oncoming traffic before crossing on to the multiuse sidepath that connects to the Cherry Creek Trail. Stop control was considered for northbound Marion Pkwy however, low volumes of vehicles travelling on Marion Pkwy and numerous other engineering standards and guidelines led to the determination that stop control is not needed at this time.

The second major change is that a short segment of Bayaud Ave between Marion Pkwy and Marion St will be made one-way allowing vehicles to travel in the westbound direction only. If vehicles headed northbound on Marion Pkwy wish to head eastbound on Bayaud Ave, they can continue northbound on Marion St and then take a right on Bayaud Ave. Due to the redesign of the Marion Pkwy and Bayaud Ave as described in the previous paragraph, there is no longer a need to allow for eastbound travel on that short segment of Bayaud Ave. This change further reduces conflicts between vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.  

DOTI will be evaluating these changes after implementation to ensure the intersection is functioning properly.  
 

When will the protected bike lane be constructed and how long will construction last? 
Construction is anticipated to begin in early 2021 and should take several months to complete. 

Has DOTI considered keeping S Marion Parkway permanently closed to cars (like it is now)? 
In early April, DOTI closed several stretches of roadway, including Marion Parkway, to thru-traffic to create more space for Denverites to walk, bike and enjoy the outdoors amid COVID-19 and while social distancing.  The need for space continues today and we will continue to support that need until further notice.  At this time, the closure on Marion Parkway is anticipated to be temporary until vehicular volumes return to normal. There is currently enough space within the public right-of-way on S Marion Parkway to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles once Marion Parkway reopens.

How does the new signal prioritize bicycles and pedestrians over vehicles?
This traffic signal has been designed to improve the crossing treatment for both bicyclists and pedestrians. The signal will clearly designate who has the right-of-way at the intersection to eliminate confusion between vehicles and others crossing the intersection.  Pedestrians and cyclists will be able to activate the signal using push buttons and the signal will turn within a reasonable time to allow for crossings at times that are also coordinated with the Downing St and Virginia Ave signal.

Due to the signal’s proximity with the traffic signal at Downing St and Virginia Ave and volume of traffic on Virginia Ave, the signal will be closely coordinated, especially during peak traffic periods, to keep traffic from backing up into the adjacent intersection.   

When a signal timing plan is prepared for a traffic signal, the time needed for a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the intersection is accounted for and incorporated into the signal’s operation. DOTI will continue to monitor traffic patterns to identify times where the signal operation could allocate more time to bikes and pedestrians.   

When installed, this intersection will include a diverter that will restrict southbound left turn movements. The left turn movement creates multiple conflict points with pedestrians and bicyclists. After reviewing the data for this intersection and in order to meet the intent of a bicycle and pedestrian priority signal, it was determined that the southbound left turn movement would be restricted to minimize conflicts and prioritize bicycle and pedestrian safety. 

Can you please describe the signal heads, push buttons (and location) and pavement markings?
The traffic signal will have standard red, yellow, and green signal indications for all vehicle approaches as well as bicycle specific indications, and pedestrian count down signals for each crossing.  Push buttons for pedestrians will be located at each corner with additional push buttons placed at the medians for bikes waiting to cross Virginia Ave.  Bicycle and pedestrian crossings will be marked with appropriate crossing markings. 

Can we completely close the park entrance to vehicles? 
This option has been discussed with the Department of Parks and Recreation however at this time, it has been determined that the park entrance will remain open to vehicles to ensure access to specific park facilities.

How will the new configuration at Louisiana and Downing be safer for cyclists and pedestrians?  
The new configuration will remove the westbound free right turn (which was not stop controlled), which will eliminate the pedestrian and bicyclists crossing conflict with vehicles that did not need to stop. The new westbound right turn will be stop controlled. The project will also rebuild pedestrian curb ramps and sidewalks so that they are ADA compliant. Improved signal timing will include leading pedestrian crossing times which give pedestrians a head start to cross the intersection, making themselves more visible to cars and other intersection users, which has been demonstrated to improve safety for pedestrians. New detection will be installed for bicyclists. 

What does “storage” mean in terms of adding it for a right turn?  
The westbound right turn lane on Louisiana Ave will be extended to include more space or “storage” for cars that are waiting to turn right at the intersection of Louisiana Ave and Downing St.  

Is the turning radius being increased at Louisiana Ave and Downing St and if so, will that lead to higher speed turns?  
The radius of the northwest corner of Louisiana Ave and Downing St will be slightly increased to accommodate larger vehicles making the turn. Prior to intersection improvements, larger vehicles were frequently driving over the curb when making the turn which quickly deteriorated infrastructure on that corner. While there will be a slight increase in the turning radius, DOTI does not anticipate more cars will turn at a higher speed.  The turning radius on the northeast corner will be reduced with the removal of the free westbound right turn. 

Data show that 20 mph substantially reduces risk to vulnerable users. Why doesn’t the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure work on lowering the speed limit and/or installing infrastructure that encourages drivers to go 20 MPH? 
Denver City Council has allotted funding to complete an implementation study for the reduction of speed limits throughout the City. Specifically, DOTI will be focusing on the reduction of speeds on neighborhood and local streets to 20 MPH and necessary treatments to achieve these speeds. DOTI is currently meeting with peer cities who have accomplished a speed limit reduction to better understand their implementation strategies. 

Why do we look for counts in places that are unsafe to cross today? What city criteria exactly needs to change in order to consider induced demand as opposed to current counts? People don’t use infrastructure that is unsafe. 
Industry standards generally are focused toward using existing crossing volumes to determine crossing needs. However, the industry is quickly changing and DOTI is evaluating whether there are appropriate methods that can be used to better understand latent demand for crossings in order to inform a more proactive approach for future implementation. 

Are there any seasonality adjustments based on when the pedestrian counts are taken to infer whole-year data? I would imagine crossings on spring or summer weekends are much more frequent than a winter weekday afternoon. 
DOTI considers seasonality adjustments when appropriate and when it is determined it may result in a different outcome. 

With the proposed changes to alter lane configuration along Alameda, is there an opportunity to add a "buffer" space between pedestrians and vehicles. This is still a very narrow corridor.
Different design options are being evaluated for their ability to decrease speeds and provide more comfort and safety for pedestrians. This is typically done by visually narrowing the path of travel through vertical elements (striping, flex posts, curbs, etc.). Adding a buffer space between pedestrians and vehicles will be considered in combination with flex posts to help ensure a visual narrowing of the roadway. 

 

Can you please explain why road diet will not be extended farther west past Pearl? 
An extension of this lane reduction may be evaluated in the future. The boundaries of this study were constrained by limited resources and focus was given to the areas where data has demonstrated that speeding is an existing issue. Data indicates that west of Pearl, actual speeds are near the posted speed limit and thus lane reduction may not be as effective or needed at this time.

Why will left turns from Alameda Ave on to Downing St still not be allowed?
Due to high volumes of traffic moving through this intersection, the current number of lanes, including the two westbound lanes, must remain. As a result, there is no room in the public right-of-way to accommodate a left turn storage lane at this time. Allowing cars to stop in one of the westbound travel lanes in order to take a left at Downing St and cross two lanes of Alameda Ave through traffic would pose too great of a crash risk at this time.  

 

Related Resources


DOTI is working to build out Denver's bicycle network through the Community Transportation Network (CTN) planning effort. The South Central CTN specifically impacts the Washington Park area. 


Get more information about the work DOTI does and details relating to Denver’s engineering process, standards and guidelines.