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Boulder's proposed changes for Iris Avenue spark controversy

The city says safety changes could not only control traffic speed, but also cut down on crashes. Neighbors are worried about spill over onto surrounding streets.
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Posted at 8:04 AM, Jul 01, 2024

BOULDER, Colo. — A plan to build a safer space for bicyclists and pedestrians on one of Boulder’s busiest roads is sparking controversy.

Iris Avenue is a major arterial street. The city said safety changes could not only control traffic speed, but also cut down on crashes, although not everyone is on board for the proposed changes.

“This isn’t quite as protective as it needs to be,” Kieran Murphy, who rides along Iris Avenue, said.

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Lines of paint are the only separation between Iris Avenue drivers and cyclists.

That’s why Boulder city leaders are considering four designs to achieve what they call “Vision Zero,” eliminating all traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries along Iris Avenue from Broadway to 28th St.

“My last run on Iris, I had to jump into the street and make traffic stop because tweens, like ten-year-olds, were trying to cross to the ball fields, and no one would stop for them. That’s just one of the many users I know you’re going to benefit here,” Boulder City Councilmember Ryan Schuchard said.

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From 2016 to 2023, the corridor saw 345 crashes. 22 were pedestrian and bicycle crashes.

Currently, the stretch has two lanes for cars going each direction.

Two of the options, A & B, would leave only one driving lane in each direction, plus a center lane that can be used by cars going either way, known as a “road diet.”

Options C & D require widening the roadway, keeping two lanes of traffic. Where the bike lane is on the street also changes, but all four plans offer protected bike lanes.

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In the middle of the project area, there’s a mural which says, “safer roads together.”

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But some neighbors are worried changing the layout of Iris Avenue will lead to spill over on surrounding streets.

“I can sit up there on my computer and watch them flying down the neighborhood street,” Mozelle Sutton said, who lives a street over from Iris.

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If the city chooses one of the first two options, Sutton worries drivers will end up using her street.

“I was very concerned… It’s ridiculous to think that 20,000 vehicles traveling every day on that street are going to disappear when they reduce it to smaller lanes,” Sutton said.

She said neighbors proposed their side street as a safer alternative to Iris Avenue for bike lanes, but were shot down by the city.

A design decision is expected by the fall.

Boulder's proposed changes for Iris Avenue spark controversy

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