A small piece of the 5280 Loop bike path will be built at 21st and Broadway by next summer

It would also take cars off of 21st street in between Champa and Stout Streets.

Plans for the 21st and Broadway bike and pedestrian crossing. (Denver Government)

Yes, a full-scale, five-mile bike loop around Denver’s downtown may be at least 15 years away. But a tiny piece of what would make the 5280 Loop will begin construction this year at 21st and Broadway.

The idea is to take an existing bike and pedestrian corridor, 21st Street, and bridge the gap across Broadway with a new signal and dedicated spaces for walkers and bikers along 21st Street.

It would also take cars off of 21st street in between Champa and Stout Streets. 

Here’s a very preliminary look from the documents that builders will later use:

Plans for the 21st and Broadway bike and pedestrian crossing. (Denver Government)
Plans for the 21st and Broadway bike and pedestrian crossing. (Denver Government)

And in the description of the project, Denver identifies the purpose of the project to partly be “a first obstacle elimination” for the 5280 loop.

Denver Urban Mobility Manager Emily Snyder explains that Public Works needed to move forward with a project now and this one happens to serve a dual purpose:

“This project can stand alone or it can integrate into the 5280 loop vision that the city has shown interest in in many documents,” she said. “We wanted to be in synergy with what may or may not happen in the future.”

Independent of the loop, Snyder says it’s an exciting project to her.

“It does create a better crossing of Broadway where we have many bicyclists and pedestrians crossing and I think just from a safety and network connectivity perspective, it’s a big deal, even though it’s one small location,” she said.

Plus, the project integrates innovative elements of water quality management. There will be green landscaping, plants, and different paver treatments to collect the water and treat it onsite.

“It’s two priorities for the city coming together, the bike program and the water quality program,” Snyder said. “It’s a great example of the city’s planning process working from neighborhood plan to urban design plan to actual construction and having all those elements included.”

Once a builder is selected, the hope is that construction will be finished summer 2018, with the potential for landscaping finishing touches in fall 2018.