Occidental College, CERB and Boulevard Merchants Say Yes to a New Colorado Boulevard: Take Back the Boulevard is focused on the broad agenda of making Colorado Boulevard work better for everyone including businesses. A more equitable sharing of the Boulevard by motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists is an important goal. Making the Boulevard feel and function more like a small-town main street is an aspiration that benefits everyone. Improving the safety of the street, which currently has a concerning safety record, is something that virtually all of the community wants to see accomplished. Promoting an attractive business environment is definitely part of the plan.
Recently letters of support for the reduction of travel lanes and the introduction of bike lanes were received from Occidental College, Collaborative Eagle Rock Beautiful and over 40 supportive Colorado Boulevard merchants. More support is still coming in. Supportive merchants understand the advantages of traffic moving more slowly by their establishments rather than whizzing by with no awareness of the businesses located on the Boulevard. Naturally, there are merchants who want no changes to be made to the Boulevard, they like it just the way it is.
Some business benefits have already been implemented. Improved signage was installed making the availability of the Caspar / Merton municipal lot more visible. Many under-utilized parking meters on the north side of the Boulevard have been changed to allow two hour parking, enough time for a haircut or a lunch. Once the traffic lanes have been reduced to two lanes in each direction, it will be easier to cross the boulevard, further facilitating the use of parking on both sides of the boulevard. It will also be much easier and safer to back into a parking space on Colorado through a bike lane rather than a traffic lane. Too often today, honking horns begin the minute a driver stops to back into a space, encouraging the driver to abandon the space. Because of the greater distance between the sidewalk and the traffic lanes, the pedestrian experience and sidewalk dining will be more pleasant. Many Occidental College students rely on the bike-share program at the college. We can expect them to be more present as customers as a result of the new bike lanes.
A natural concern is what will happen to traffic? Colorado currently experiences less traffic than the six lanes were supposed to support. This fact will moderate the traffic impact. An important safety goal is to reduce the speed on the Boulevard – we do want it to move slower. But fears that block long traffic jams throughout the day are unfounded. Making a left turn is another concern that has been voiced. The good news is that, although early in the design process, the Department of Transportation indicates, because bike lanes are not as wide as a traffic lane, the center turn lane will be made wider to making it easier for a turning vehicle to exit the traffic lane as it waits to make the turn.
The support for the initiative at the recent Department of Transportation and the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council meetings provided further proof that there is considerable backing for transforming the Boulevard. Kudos to all those in Eagle Rock who have the vision and are looking to the future, ready to help prepare our great community for the next generations of Eagle Rockers.