New pop-up traffic calming report provides support for lowering residential speed limits

by Jessica Vargas on December 5, 2019

On August 3, 2019, WalkDenver teamed up with Urban Land Conservancy and Radian Inc to organize a pop-up event in Northeast Park Hill along the proposed 303 ArtWay Heritage Trail. Using a variety of low-cost materials like colorfully painted tires, planters, and even a painted bike lane, community members were able to visualize a safer and calmer street. In alignment with 303 ArtWay’s mission to increase safety and mobility in the Northeast Park Hill community, the pop-up event took over the 35th Ave and Holly St intersection to demonstrate the impact that widened sidewalks, a sheltered bus stop, bike lanes and pedestrian crosswalks could have on the area. 

The intent of the pop-up was to demonstrate the sorts of lower-cost infrastructure investments that make streets more comfortable to travel on outside of a car. Curb extensions, bike lanes, and crosswalks are just a few ways that we can reclaim some space on Denver streets for people. Vehicle speed data was collected on 35th Ave both during the event and on a comparable Saturday to measure the effects of the design. We found that the percent of drivers exceeding the speed limit dropped dramatically from 35% with the street as-is to 0% during the pop-up. Check out video of the event at the WalkDenver Vimeo page!

In order to encourage more people to walk, bike, and take transit – and to slow down when they drive – public streets space will need to be repurposed. The success of our “Slow the Funk Down” signs has also proven that Denverites want drivers to slow down, especially when traveling on neighborhood streets like 35th and Holly that have homes, community centers, schools, and other neighborhood amenities. We know that signage alone, whether they are colorful yard signs or official traffic signs, will not be enough to ensure drivers regularly travel the speed limit. Lowered speed limits will have to be combined with effective traffic calming measures if we are to create streets with safer speeds.

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