Some Denver streets will close to cars, giving people who walk and bike more elbow room during the coronavirus pandemic

It starts Saturday.
2 min. read
Francysco Zaldivar races his bike near his home in Bear Valley. March 7, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Parts of Denver are about to go back to the days when people congregated and played in the streets before cars dominated them. Except... no congregating and no playing.

The city government will close segments of East 11th Avenue, Byron Place, Stuart Street and East 16th Avenue to cars, the mayor announced Friday. Denverites will start seeing the changes Saturday.

"The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure will be announcing today roads that will be closed to really encourage people to get outdoors and feel safe walking and biking and enjoying outdoors with the proper physical, distancing," Hancock said in an announcement on Twitter.

With the move, Mayor Michael Hancock is following the lead of other major cities like New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Officials there closed streets to vehicles to give the public more room to roam as sidewalks and parks became crowded.

Here's precisely where the streets will open to people:

  • E. 11th Avenue from Lincoln Street to Humboldt Street
  • Byron Place from Zenobia Street to Stuart Street
  • Stuart Street from 24th Avenue to 21st Avenue
  • E. 16th Avenue from Lincoln Street to City Park Esplanade

The closures are temporary, but Jill Locantore, head of the Denver Streets Partnership, sees an opportunity to show the public what "people-first streets" can do.

"This is basically a huge tactical urbanism project where we can temporarily demonstrate different uses for our streets and allow people to experience that," Locantore said. "It's a great opportunity for people to think about whether some of these changes should be made more permanent. Do we actually think our streets are functioning better this way and could continue to function this way even after we emerge from the crisis?"

Hancock's announcement represents the first phase. Hancock's transportation department is looking at additional closures.

Cars have also been banned from city parks.

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