DENVER — When shared streets were first introduced in parts of Denver, it seemed like a foreign concept. Now, many have become used to seeing barricades in the middle of the street.
"It just made it much more comfortable to walk in the neighborhood," said David Mintzer, who lives near a shared street on 11th Avenue.
Denver’s shared streets discourage cars and allows people to have more space in the street to walk or ride their bike.
It's something Mintzer does every day to get to work.
"It definitely feels less stressful," he said. "When I’m coming down Cap Hill, I used to have to worry about a car turning into me and coming across. Now, it feels really quiet and really comfortable."
Mintzer helped start a petition to keep Denver’s shared streets alive, and as of Sunday evening, it had been signed by more than 1,600 people. He said his goal is to see the program continue well past 2021.
"We saw so many people enjoying the use of these streets and wanting their voices to be heard," Mintzer said.
City officials plan to continue the shared streets program through the winter season. City transportation officials "will then assess its shared street initiative again as spring approaches and in coordination with the latest COVID-19 developments," a city spokesperson said.
The city plans to replace some of the current barricades with heavier ones. They’ll also reopen some roads completely, while adding more shared streets in different neighborhoods.
"I think the biggest drawbacks thus far is that it is not touching every community in Denver — Globeville, Elyria, Swansea, Westwood, these have been hit the hardest by the pandemic and they deserve places to be able to go to outside," said Allen Cowgill with the Denver Bicycle Lobby.
Although the current barricades have helped, Mintzer said he believes there’s still room for improvement.
"I see cars veering to avoid the barricades and they veer into the bike lane and then back and they’re going at 30 miles an hour, so that to me shows that the design isn’t working as it should," he said. "It should really slow cars down. It should encourage them to turn off the street as opposed to cutting through all the way."
While the long-term future of Denver’s shared streets is unknown, some in the community believe this pandemic invention deserves a permanent green light.