Eyes on the Street: Livable Streets a Mile High

16th_Street_Shuttle.jpg

A little end-of-day action from the Streetsblog Flickr pool, courtesy of BeyondDC: Here’s Denver’s 16th Street Shuttle, also called the MallRide. Check out those three low-floor doors for easy-on, easy-off boarding and alighting.

The MallRide travels up and down a mile-long pedestrian mall — the only vehicle allowed there — arriving every 90 seconds. It’s also integrated into Denver’s light rail system, connecting with all five lines. Oh yeah, and it’s free.

BeyondDC also shared a pic of a nicely landscaped contraflow bike lane in nearby Boulder, which comes after the jump. To contribute to our photo pool, add the "Streetsblog" tag to your Flickr submissions.

Boulder_Bike_Lane.jpg

  • I’ve been to a few conventions in Denver and enjoyed walking the mall. It’s lovely and safe at night, a calming yet lively place to stroll. How remarkable that Denver has a car-free space a mile long and New York doesn’t. Maybe someday we’ll be able to connect our newly car-free spaces between Times Sq. and Herald Sq. and catch up with Denver.

  • That looks amazing. Pedestrian roads are great additions to cities and I hope more U.S. cities start adding them and integrating them into their public transportation systems. (For instance Bordeaux has a tram line running on a road parallel to its pedestrian street and one intersecting it so it’s very walkable and and easy trip to get there on public transit.)

  • dave

    Denver is starting to repair some of the damage done to the city in the 1960’s and 70’s. Denver used to have the most extensive streetcar system in the country- http://www.denverstreetcars.net/info.htm
    Now most of those lines are wide, high speed arterials and we are spending billions of dollars to replace the tracks that were ripped out to make way for the automobile.

  • The mall in Denver works pretty well. Though I found it a little bit too planned.

  • Rob B.

    I’m a big supporter of efforts to create transit/walking corridors like the one in Denver. I do recall that the Chestnut Street Corridor in Philadelphia was deemed a failure though. Stores closed or relocated to the parallel Walnut Street.

    Can anyone explain why Denver’s has succeeded while Philly’s did not? Thanks.

  • dave

    Rob- it is difficult to explain, but denverites seem to really like their malls. the cherry creek mall spurred an enormous amount of development in the area and became a very desirable place to live. the 16th St mall, is just that, a mall, and with pretty crappy stores to boot. It stays crowded mostly from tourists and business workers in the area. The one benefit is that it does run the entire length of downtown and can be used to travel through the area, even if you are not necessarily using the mall.

  • This strikes me surprising. Over the past year, you guys have talked about experimentation with livability out West, but it just seems like all along, any city West of the East Coast is overly car-oriented with its policies and government. Looks like NYC will either have to continue leading or end up following.

  • philly_rider

    There is no similarity between Denver’s ped/transit mall and virtually any other mall in America (such as Philadelphia’s removed Chestnut Street Transitway).

    Denver’s mall is one mile long, designed by IM Pei. The entire ROW is smooth finish granite pavers in a pattern that makes a quilt when seen from an office tower, with special street furniture also designed by Pei.

    The mall shuttles are fully low floor, and virtually the entire side of the bus opens up as doors. The newest shuttles are electric hybrid vehicles (replacing older diesels). The lights are all timed for the shuttles, which operate on a 90 second headway. They are essentially a horizontal elevator system (like a really well done people mover). Regional express bus stations are located at the ends of the mall. Two thirds of the ROW are ped space, and 1/3 is bus space, though people walk in the shuttle lanes.

    Denver has toyed with modifying the mall, which is about 30 years old, but the design is so good it is hard to agree on any changes. One interesting and sad fact is that the current street furniture has been deemed to be non-ADA compliant, which is bazaar. They have talked about replacing fixtures with conventional models (as opposed to simple modifications) which would be a real shame.

    All told, it is amazing how many planners have never heard of Denver’s mall, and that is has never been copied (to my knowledge). It was an FTA-funded project.

    Philadelphia, by contrast, had a one-way street with regular diesel bus routes that charged a fare. It was a bus-chute, not a people mover or pedestrian mall. And the streetscape was not timeless, as Denver’s is. By the late 1990s it looked a little tired.

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