Making streets narrower may benefit pedestrians and bicycle riders, but it does not always thrill local business owners. Case in point: During the …
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Making streets narrower may benefit pedestrians and bicycle riders, but it does not always thrill local business owners.
Case in point: During the Downtown Business Association of Golden meeting last week, the group peppered city staff and officials with questions, challenging the wisdom of a planned slimming of Ford Street.
“We have to make sure people can get in and out of downtown,” Golden Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Gary Wink said, warning that his organization already “catches hell” about traffic in downtown during special events.
Golden Public Works currently plans to repave Ford and repaint the roadway to reduce it from five lanes to three — one in each direction with a central turn lane — between 10th and 14th Streets.
“You’re probably wondering, `Why? Where did this idea come from?” Deputy Public Works Director Vince Auriemma said to the gathered Golden businessowners.
The answer, Auriemma said, comes in part from the city’s 2010 Complete Streets Policy, which calls for Public Works to accommodate all modes of travel, including cyclists and pedestrians, “to the highest degree possible when redesigning the public right of way.”
Ford Street currently carries an average of 12,000 vehicle trips a day, which is less than some two- and three-lane streets in the city. Auriemma said after punching traffic numbers into a traffic simulator, the program indicated that Golden could narrow Ford Street without causing any significant increase in traffic jams.
Several local businessowners expressed doubts about the accuracy of that traffic model. Several described specific traffic scenarios, including commuter bus stops. Among them was John Boyle, owner of the Golden Mill Country Store, who said he routinely sees all four of Ford’s traffic lanes get backed up during peak times.
“And when we get a truck delivery, we need to back them in, and it blocks traffic,” Boyle said.
Lisa Knipp, a public relations representative from MillerCoors, said the company has concerns about the mid-block traffic that the brewery tour lot creates, as well as the safety of Coors tour buses, which use the street extensively.
“In all this talk about walkability and bikeability, I think carability was ignored,” Wink said. “And cars are still the primary way people get here.”
District Two City Councilwoman Marcie Miller and District One Councilwoman Saoirse Charis-Graves attended the meeting and said they had heard the concerns of the downtown merchants.
Charis-Graves said the extended bike lane should increase cycling usage along Ford Street, once the restriping is done. She said she supports the removal of lanes as a “try and see” experiment that would be relatively easy and inexpensive to reverse. She said she would support setting a deadline to reevaluate the situation.
The $90,000 repaving and lane painting project is scheduled for next month.
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