DENVER — The City of Denver has made adjustments to the intersection of 7th Avenue Parkway and Williams Street, which was reworked significantly as part of the city's Neighborhood Bikeways program.
Earlier this month, neighbors and cyclists told Denver7 that the intersection was confusing and made them feel less safe.
Neighbors and cyclists call new 7th Avenue intersection in Denver less safe
“[Department of Transportation and Infrastructure] staff appreciate all of the feedback we’ve gotten on this intersection in particular that can help us ensure it is safe and comfortable,” Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) said in a memo released this month. “We’ll continue to monitor this location as drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians adapt to these modifications.”
The memo lists several changes made to the intersection following a community meeting held by the city. They include:
- An added stop sign and stop bar to slow car traffic in benefit of bikes crossing
- Moved signs for better visibility
- Added yield markings within the bike lane
- An update to Google Maps to reflect the new “Do Not Enter” signs for westbound traffic
- Removal of flexposts from the bike lane to help cyclists better maneuver the turn now required to continue east along 7th
The flexpost removal is a welcomed update for Jan Douglas, who spoke to Denver7 earlier this month about the intersection.
Douglas was biking through the intersection with her husband when she crashed at the sharp turn. She said it created a blind spot behind her, and she didn’t see another cyclist riding toward her.
The crash sent Douglas to the emergency room with a large bruise on her abdomen and took two weeks to heal, she said.
The removal of the flexposts at the turn allows for a softer turn and better visibility, which Douglas said is an important change for the better.
“I’ve been watching bikes do it even just now,” Douglas said. “It’s a more feasible turn. They can actually look to their left to see if anyone’s coming fast the other direction, which is what I couldn’t do.”
Even with the changes, Douglas, her husband, and several others told Denver7 they still feel the reworked intersection is unsafe and unusable for bikes, cars and walkers.
Mark Turnage, a resident near 7th Avenue who bikes the area “all the time,” said the city should change the intersection back to its prior form.
While Turnage praised many of the other bike lanes installed by the city — and some of the changes instituted further west on 7th Avenue — he called the reworked intersection at Williams a “disaster."
“This particular bikeway, and how they’ve navigated it and how they’ve put it in — without consultation with the neighborhood — has been a disaster,” Turnage said.
Another common complaint neighbors raised was drivers disobeying the new “Do Not Enter” sign, meant to stop westbound traffic from continuing along 7th Avenue past Williams Street. DOTI said in its August memo it is aware of the issue, and “will work with our enforcement teams to ticket drivers if this continues.”
Denver’s Neighborhood Bikeways programs is part of its Vision Zero mission to eliminate traffic deaths. It is based on a similar program from Sweden, launched in the 1990s to great success. Sweden has been able to reduce its traffic deaths by half.
Rob Toftness, the co-founder of the Denver Bicycle Lobby, said the city deserves credit for its investment into new bikeways, as well as the speed at which it is implementing them. He stressed that tweaks to bikeway installations should not distract from the important mission they serve. His daily bike commutes downtown have felt much safer now that he can take bikeway routes.
“There are connections being made now, and that’s really cool,” Toftness said. “I can get to the grocery store completely protected. I can get to work protected.”