By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – Residents in several Denver neighborhoods with open and shared streets called on the mayor and city council on Thursday to make those changes permanent to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists beyond the pandemic and protect the environment. Barricades that discourage through traffic were put up in the spring during the city shutdown because of COVID-19 and will remain until through the fall.

(credit: CBS)

“I think if they were closed permanently it would help everybody to navigate it better,” said Allison Torvik, a Denver resident who lives by a shared street intersection near City Park.

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The city currently has modified streets in around 10 different neighborhoods throughout Denver. The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure says it will review the policy in the weeks ahead. Torvik and others who graduated from an advocacy program offered by the Denver Streets Partnership coalition hosted a news conference virtually to bring attention to the issue.

“I can’t imagine giving these spaces back to cars,” said Evan Doucett, a resident who lives near Sloan’s Lake Park. “They’ve just been such a tremendous benefit to the community, it’s very peaceful there.”

The initial idea focused on creating more social distancing for people on foot and on their bikes in these neighborhoods. At the same time, it kept cars farther away and lead them to slow down while traveling on these streets. Another benefit came along the way, these advocates say it is an example of how the city can respond to climate change at the same time.

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“We could really see a world where we didn’t see so much smog and pollution,” Douchett said during the virtual news conference.

(credit: CBS)

He pointed out that the sky changed in the time we saw less traffic on the roads because of the “Stay At Home” order and that same effect could become a significant way to improve air quality in the future. They believe drivers will still have access to the roads they need but will avoid intersections that attract more pedestrians and bicyclists.

“The easy way of climate change is to make it more difficult to be a polluter and less difficult to not be a polluter,” Torvik told CBS4. “There’s plenty of room on the street for everyone.”

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Denver Parks and Recreation is asking people to give feedback on the shared streets layout near city parks, take the survey here:

Shawn Chitnis