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Safety improvements to Denver's Lincoln Street gets mixed reactions

Lincoln Street changes
Posted at 6:19 PM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 01:21:02-04

DENVER -- Take a drive on Lincoln Street near downtown Denver and you'll notice new -- and some would say -- needed changes.

"The speed is the thing that bothers me the most," Nita Lynch said.

She's lived along Lincoln and Alameda for about 10 years.

"We love the neighborhood," Lynch said.

And like many other places in Denver, it's getting busier.

"This is residential and it's not treated like that. People and their cars treat it like a speedway," she said.

Thanks to a recently-completed safety improvement project by Denver's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, the four traffic lanes north of Ohio Avenue work differently.

On Monday through Friday from 6 a.m.-7 p.m., the far west lane is now a travel lane. Otherwise, it's a parking lane. That caught some drivers, like Deep Badhesha, by surprise this weekend.

"This isn't a bike lane. This isn't a bus lane. This is a parking lane?" he said, recalling his thoughts as he made his way through the traffic on Saturday.

He figured the project would've added a bike line or an actual dedicated bus lane. He's not too happy about the added parking.

"I think the frustration comes from the idea that it's become parking without any other way of movement on that street," Badhesha said.

But others, like homeowner Brittany Spinner, believe these changes will make Lincoln Street safer for everyone.

"The parking is actually going to slow traffic down, which is much needed. It's also going to create a pedestrian barrier for all of the people that walk up and down Lincoln," she said.

The project also updated the travel times for the bus/parking lane on the far east side of Lincoln Street. Only buses can travel on it from 6-9 a.m., an hour more than before. This is the first time buses have dedicated travel times in the evenings here.

Any other time, it's a parking lane.

"Whether it's a parking lane or a transit lane, that means we have fewer lanes for individual cars, which is exactly what makes the streets safer," Jill Locantore, executive director of Denver Streets Partnership, said. "If we're going to achieve the city's goal of getting to zero traffic fatalities, we have to make some serious changes to these streets like Lincoln and Broadway."

Lincoln Street is, after all, on the city's High Injury Network. But change is hard sometimes, and it's even harder to convince people to ditch the car and take the bus.

"We're doing the best we can to find that balance between keeping people moving and keeping all commuters of our roadways safe," DOTI spokesperson Heather Burke said.

You can read more about the department's safety improvement project for Lincoln Street here.