Design

Ten Ways to Improve the 16th Street Mall

Come Together Denver is the name of a bench on the 16th Street Mall that encourages strangers to speak to each other.
Come Together Denver is the name of a bench on the 16th Street Mall that encourages strangers to speak to each other. Meet in the Street
Today, July 8, marks the beginning of the Meet in the Street Prototyping Series sponsored by the Downtown Denver Partnership. On every Saturday through August 26, proposals to improve, grow and celebrate the 16th Street Mall will be displayed along the strip, which will also host special events.

Ideally, the proposals will be innovative and daring. In case they're not, we've come up with our own ideas that Denver could use to bolster the usability and attractiveness of the 16th Street Mall.

Cute and not scary at all. - EDWARD KIMMEL/FLICKR
Cute and not scary at all.
10. Expand the Mounted Police
There are lots of everyday hassles (and sometimes violence) along the 16th Street Mall. As much as Denver loves its bikes, it's tougher to strike fear in the hearts of evil-doers if you're a cop on a two-wheeler. If you're up there on horseback? C'mon; it's a no-brainer. Budget cuts have reduced the mounted-police presence downtown; they're only there some days of the week at this point. But more of them could mean a better overall experience for mall-goers. And let's face it: Horses are just cool, especially for an old cowtown like Denver. We like to fancy ourselves one of the eastern fronts of the Wild West — Queen City of the Plains and all that — and horses just go with the reputation.

Wash that shit. - DANNEBROG/FLICKR
Wash that shit.
9. Power Wash the Whole Damn Thing
Maybe daily. It's pretty filthy as an area, and it doesn't have to be. If Disney parks can clean up after bajillions of kids and their related detritus every day, then the 16th Street Mall can at least keep the crap off the sidewalks. And by that, I mean literal crap. On the sidewalks.


click to enlarge Imagine being able to enjoy the 16th Street Mall with a beer in your hand? - DITTY_ABOUT_SUMMER/SHUTTERSTOCK
Imagine being able to enjoy the 16th Street Mall with a beer in your hand?
8. Make It More Alcohol-Friendly
Colorado has this wonderful law that allows communities to set up entertainment districts and allow common consumption between designated businesses. That means being able to walk from one bar or restaurant to another one down the street, and drink in hand. It's not as rare as you might think, and Vegas has built an industry on the idea. It wouldn't need to be completely up and down the 16th Street Mall, but having an area that could be artfully sectioned off so that adults who want to imbibe can do so with ease would be a boon to the area.

click to enlarge Hell, Denver itself could use more diversity. - RAWPIXEL.COM/SHUTTERSTOCK
Hell, Denver itself could use more diversity.
7. Diversity
Especially during tourist hours, the Mall is one of the whitest places in the metro area, perhaps with the exception of Stapleton, where whiteness is mandated in the HOA. (That's a joke — it's not in the HOA, just in the yoga-panted hearts of too many residents who look askance at anyone who'd seem out of place at an REI sale.) Denver prides itself on cultural diversity. As such, the 16th Street Mall should be the place we show that pride. Perhaps more multicultural events would do the mall some good.

Keep reading for more suggestions to improve the 16th Street Mall.

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen