In April, a Denver City Council Committee unanimously approved a proposal to increase bicycle access on the 16th Street Mall to include Saturdays in addition to the currently approved Sundays.
Prior to the 6-0 vote by the Infrastructure and Culture Committee, concern was articulated about the audacious behavior of some of the cyclists and, consequently, the well-being of pedestrians. Downtown residents and council members noted that cyclists running red lights and narrowly missing pedestrians happens too often for comfort.
One council member noted that it will be the responsibility of each cyclist to behave in an appropriate manner or all cyclists will suffer the imposition of restrictions to mall access.
If the proposal is approved when it goes before the full council, cyclists would be allowed in the transitways- areas they will share with MallRide shuttles, horse-drawn carriages and, after 6 p.m., pedicabs. As the proposal stands, bicyclists would have no time limitations on their access to the mall. Generally speaking, those at the hearing were in favor of the plan.
In response to the anxieties regarding pedestrian safety, Denver’s urban mobility manager discussed ideas to increase signage where bicycle traffic must traverse the mall.
Additionally, the inaugural bike access Saturday will be spotlighted with a media event and awareness campaigns. Law enforcement has proposed increasing their presence if responsible mall usage is not observed by cyclists.
Those propositions did afford nearby residents some reassurance. One resident told the committee that, as pedestrians, she and her neighbors were concerned about the manner in which some cyclists ride up behind them quickly and closely before they realize it. She was adamant about pedestrian safety.
The layout of the mall, itself, will prevent cyclists from building too much speed. Councilman Albus Brooks reassured the group. The shuttles, which operate as many as thirteen times an hour on weekends, along with numerous stop lights, will help regulate the speed of cyclists.
Supporters believe the majority of the bike traffic on the mall will be recreational riders rather than speeders. One resident also pointed out that he believes having more bikes on the mall will heighten the cyclists’ sense of awareness and that by increasing their presence on the mall, riders will feel group pressure to act responsibly.
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