Bicyclists, restaurants want to see street closures last longer than summer

Posted at 8:50 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-05 19:53:44-05

DENVER -- The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot about how hundreds of small businesses have been operating over the last five months. Streets have been closed off to allow for more outdoor activities and social distancing. Now, there is now a huge push to keep those streets closed well into next year.

The shared streets are perfect for Tenly Williams.

“They’ve been better for me because I’m better able to take my kids out for a bike ride,” Williams said.

She and a number of others submitted a petition with more than 1,300 signatures and gave it to the city to keep the closures going.

“I would like for this to continue permanently. I do bike a lot in the summer but I love biking in the spring and the fall and even the winter,” Williams added.

And the councilman who helped push for these closures wouldn't mind extending them.

“I can definitely see this thing continue through the fall and as we continue to re-embrace our world post COVID if you won’t need our streets for cars as much in perpetuity,” Councilman Chris Hinds said.

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure anticipates extending road closures through the fall months.

“It will help economically. I think there’s a lot of people bicycling or walking to these restaurants,” Williams said.

Speaking of restaurants.

“We have really been pushing hard with the state and with the governor's office,” Colorado Restaurant Association CO Sonia Riggs said.

The Colorado Restaurant Association is pushing to extend these programs through next summer since indoor capacity likely won't be increased anytime soon.

“I will say this: We are looking at creative ways to make it maybe fun for families, see if there’s financial assistance to help restaurants, pay for heaters and other things that can make them more comfortable for people to dine outside,” Riggs said.

“It gets kind of complicated when you think about winter. Because you have to think about snow removal or sidewalks or streets might be temporarily closed,” City of Denver Excise and License Department spokesperson Eric Escudero said.

The City of Denver is looking at the possible expansion of the program which runs out at the end of October.

“One of the messages we're trying to tell the bars and restaurants in Denver is to be thinking about your winter plan now,” Escudero added.

A winter plan for survival that is on the top of everyone's mind.