Colorado Boulevard needs more crosswalks, because while any corner unless signage dictates otherwise is technically an “unmarked crosswalk,” the experience of crossing at an unmarked crosswalk on the street is very unpleasant. Rarely, if ever, do motorists yield to pedestrians as they should at unmarked crosswalks. Here’s what one typically sees at Colorado Boulevard’s “unmarked” crosswalks:
Trying to make their way across because they are patronizing a business on one side but parking on the other.
Here are more pictures of people crossing Colorado Boulevard at unmarked crosswalks:
Sometimes, it’s easy to cross, but often it feels intimidating– some people are even unaware it is legal to cross at corners that don’t have signalized or marked crosswalks. Crosswalks simply better articulate existing law, which seems like it is necessary given how infrequently motorists yield to pedestrians that brave crossing at Colorado Boulevard’s unmarked crosswalks.
However, in addition to more crosswalks, it must also be easier to cross Colorado Boulevard. What does this mean? While the presence of a painted crosswalk does help one feel more comfortable crossing – and reminds drivers they are required to yield – it can still be intimidating to cross a street like Colorado Boulevard. Colorado Boulevard requires pedestrians cross six lanes of moving car traffic, sometimes without a physical median to pause halfway, and that’s asking a lot on a street that sees excessive and illegal high speeds from car drivers on a daily basis.
View the video below to get a better understanding of what crossing Colorado Boulevard is like today, even with a marked crosswalk– several drivers speed by as one attempts to cross the street
One measure that is believed to make crossing Colorado Boulevard easier is the implementation of buffered bike lanes, which would convert one lane in each direction into a bike lane. But how would this help if the street isn’t physically being narrowed?
This would contain motorists to four lanes of traffic, rather than six, which makes crossing easier in a handful of ways. Visually, it is easier to see when it is safe to cross by only having to look for cars in four lanes rather than six. Speeds from motorists would likely reduce as a result, further enhancing one’s ability to visually judge if it is safe to cross the street or if one can do so in adequate time. Reduced speeds from drivers also make it subjectively more safe for pedestrians to cross, it simply feels like less like a crazy, life-threatening action to cross four lanes of motor vehicle traffic instead of six. Reduced speeds from motorists also means that drivers themselves can see their surroundings more clearly so they are less likely to unintentionally miss seeing a pedestrian wishing to cross the street and can yield willingly. Sometimes drivers do not to yield to pedestrians because they worry the driver behind them is going too fast to safely stop in time without crashing into their rear or having to dangerously swerve into the adjacent lane; by reducing motorists’ speeds, such dangerous instances are less likely to happen. These are just some of the reasons why reducing the number of lanes available to automobiles makes crossing easier.
By making Colorado Boulevard a street that is easy and comfortable to cross as a pedestrian, people are more likely to walk. Crossing a street is a vital part of walking to reach destinations and if it something people have to walk several blocks out of their way to do safely, they are not going walk because it is too inconvenient and unpleasant. As has been argued on this blog before, by making crossing something that is easy and comfortable to do, parking for drivers can be improved as well.
Streets that are easy, safe, and comfortable to cross also add a touch of magic to the local atmosphere and help improve the public opinion of the street; people feel more connected to the street if they feel safe crossing it, and they are more likely to spontaneously cross the street to patronize a local business. Improving the pedestrian experience of crossing Colorado Boulevard enhances the street’s accessibility to in a variety of ways, however it can also open the street up to opportunities that aren’t considered or experienced today because crossing the street is a large physical and psychological barrier.