Re: Geese in Wash Park:
As a more than 25-year resident of the Washington Park area, I must strenuously disagree with the Letter to the Editor that appeared in the July issue of The …
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As a more than 25-year resident of the Washington Park area, I must strenuously disagree with the Letter to the Editor that appeared in the July issue of The Profile.
I live within walking distance of Washington Park and spend a great deal of time there. The park is beautiful, particularly the paths around the lakes, and the presence of the many birds, including the Canada Geese, only enhances one‘s pleasure.
The geese, as well as being strikingly attractive with their distinctive markings, are a delight. They are not aggressive. I often encounter a huge flock of them “blocking” the path and they simply waddle out of the way, sometimes honking or even hissing a bit, but always giving way. To see these magnificent birds in flight is a wonder. To see them awkwardly coming in for a landing brings a smile to one’s face. They coexist peaceably with the other wildlife that make the park their home.
The park may exist primarily for the enjoyment of the human population but it is also home to many species of animals; one of the few places within the city where wildlife have a haven from the encroachment of human development. Can we not accommodate this small intrusion of the natural world into our overly sanitized lives?
Many years ago, one could walk through my neighborhood and, if lucky, see a beautiful red fox streaking across the yards. No longer. People complained that the foxes were dangerous to their children and their pets, and now they are long gone.
Must all of our wildlife suffer the same fate?
Judith M. Cole
Since July 2013, a Stakeholders group of primarily Washington Park residents, of which I am a member, has worked we thought, in good faith with Denver Parks & Recreation and their consultant to create a safer Loop Road for all to use and enjoy. However, in June 2017, when Mayor Hancock finally put his OK on the plan and Parks and Rec. began laying out the new striping of the road, it became clear how badly the Stakeholders had been misled. The hastily implemented plan of restriping the road is nothing like the plan discussed over the past three years.
The Loop Road has now been outfitted with a new 18-feet-wide, one-way thoroughfare for wheels, primarily bicycles. The City says the space left over can to be used by pedestrians. What is now left over in several areas is only some 8-10 feet of space for pedestrians, with much of the west side walking space being only eight feet wide. The reallocation of more Loop Road space to bicycles was not discussed as part of the plan. In comparison, some 30-plus miles of existing Denver metro area bike paths are 8-10 feet wide for two-way bike and pedestrian traffic.
When the Stakeholders contacted the Mayor about the loss of pedestrian space, we were informed that pedestrians could walk elsewhere in the Park. However, as Park users know, the trails around the lakes and the meadow are rough and in very poor condition, discouraging many walkers to steer away from them. The gravel Jogging Trail on the outside edge of the park is full of joggers and walkers during most times. Pedestrians with dogs generally shy away from this trail already for safety reasons.
The number of pedestrians using the Loop Road also needs to be noted. These are the walkers, joggers, dog walkers and parents with strollers that far outnumber the bicycle/roller blade/surrey users. In recent data collected, the Loop Road pedestrian usage ranges from 60-70 percent, by far the largest user group. Recent radar checks on the Loop Road show bicycle speeds from 15-25 mph on a road with a posted speed limit of 15 mph.
Pedestrians have been disenfranchised and are being squeezed out in favor of wheeled participants. Pedestrians deserve their fair share of a safe Loop Road.
Loop Road Stakeholder
Board Member, West Washington Park Neighborhood Association
The recent transformation of Washington Park has some people wondering why it was done and for whose benefit. Those of us who use the park regularly were surprised by the outcome. Our family park was turned into a biker park, and it was done at the expense of the majority of park users. The paved loop that used to provide adequate space for all, has been restriped so that two lanes, each 8 feet wide, are now dedicated for bike use–not for kids, but for adults who want to go fast. The remaining portion of the loop road, 7 feet down to 5 feet, is left over for others. Essentially, one type of user–the adult biker–has captured two-thirds of the available loop space while all other users get what’s left over. Walkers, moms with strollers, kids on training bikes, people in wheelchairs, joggers unable to run on gravel, dog-walkers, roller skaters, skate boarders, kids on razor scooters–all squeezed into a space that’s only 1/3 of the loop width and inadequate on weekends when the park has many visitors.
The remodeling and reconfiguration, inspired by Denver Parks and Rec., removed about 60 parking spaces badly needed by families who come to picnic and play ball. It makes the parking deficiency even worse than it was before, and it creates an inconvenience and hazard for people having to find parking on neighboring streets. With faster bikers, other users encounter new hazards, especially slow walkers and kids from the school on Franklin who need to cross to the park. Crossing the loop to get to the center of the park is more dangerous because bikers are going faster and there are no signs to inform them that they need to stop for pedestrians. Speed limit signs are now in place, but there’s no enforcement. A 200-pound biker riding at 15 mph carries 1600 foot pounds of energy, and the possibility of that impact on a mom with her child in a stroller should sober up the people in the city of Denver to take another look at the travesty they’ve created. If common sense doesn’t prevail, then the possibility of a multi-million dollar law suit should get the attention of city council.
Hopefully, the city will take another look at what’s been done at Washington Park and consider some changes that will make the park family friendly again.
Editor's note: the letter from Walt Heidenfelder has been published to the web only.
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