Since 2010, Denver has experienced rapid growth and a rise in traffic congestion which underscored the importance of providing additional multimodal options of transportation, and quickly.
Once the initial phases of transportation improvements from the Denver Moves initiative ended around 2011, the city of Denver was equipped to build around 5 miles of new bike lanes each year. With strategic support from PeopleforBikes in 2017, a bold commitment by the mayor in 2019, and an increased budget, the next step was to gather community feedback in 2020 around conceptual designs toward constructing 125 miles of bike lanes by 2023.
“The general goal was to build out an entire network of bike lanes across a neighborhood all at once, instead of implementing a bike lane in one part of the city and then sporadically implementing another bike lane in another part of the city.” - Riley LaMie
The planning team kicked off the conceptual planning phase in 2020 featuring high-level drawings that detailed what the bike lane could roughly look like (e.g. Is it a protected bike lane? Is it a neighborhood bikeway? Or just a regular painted bike lane?). The conceptual phase also outlined what the trade-offs might be, like removing certain parking spots.
For the conceptual phase, the planning team attempted to make do with online tools readily available to them (ArcGIS and Google Drive). But it produced an admittedly “clunky“ experience that could not be characterized as user-friendly, especially while trying to make their process equitable.
Once the City had conceptual alignment around the big picture and potential impacts, the planners prepared actual designs for each specific area and progressed toward facilitating conversations around questions like “how can we do this project in a way that this doesn’t negatively affect residents?”
What Denver needed from their next phases was to gain feedback from the community and ensure the best outcome for everyone impacted. The city wanted residents to provide their input and answer questions like “is this bike lane going to have lingering impacts on your driveway? Or is there some fatal flaw with this design in your area that we’re not recognizing?”
The team needed to provide an online experience that was easy for any resident to navigate, become informed, and provide specific comments on drafted designs in their area. It also needed to be easy for staff to set up and manage as things changed. Most of all, the solution needed to be easy for staff and consultants to track, analyze, and incorporate all of the feedback received.
Had it not been for the pandemic, the plan would have been to follow the status quo. (Host a series of in-person meetings with designs printed on a giant roll plot to accept comments via Post-it notes.) Instead, every roll pot was uploaded to their project website on Konveio and the team created overview pages for each neighborhood and roll plot.
After procuring a Konveio license, the window to launch their Konveio site in time for their first engagement was narrow. Within 5 days, members of the planning team responsible for launching the first workshop built a complete project website just in time for their launch event. Watch the video below to take a deeper look into what made Denver Moves’ Konveio site so simple and effective for everyone involved.
Remarks on efficiency and collaboration:
Konveio was designed to add efficiency and ease of use to every single phase of a project’s lifecycle.
“Something that we hopefully won't take for granted is how much time and cost savings there was. And given the pace we were required to go, I don't know if we would have been able to get where we're at now without virtual engagement.
Normally, we'd have to have to pay somebody who would remove all the post-its and then manually transcribe them into a word document or excel sheet. But because comments were already in Konveio, the project team could easily just go in and make the required revisions.
For the same reason, consultants could flag major things like “Hey, have you heard a lot of comments about this particular issue or this particular item?” And then residents could talk to us about it. Or we could quickly go through and visually be able to see “oh, there’s a lot of comments on this particular intersection so we need to go back and take a second look at it.”
It’s those kinds of benefits that let us focus more on the design work and less on the busywork of gathering comments and that kind of thing. And in the process of obtaining feedback on bike lanes, we could collect specific feedback around more general traffic concerns (stop signs, speeding, etc) too.”
- Riley LaMie
On the topic of landing pages:
Dedicated project websites require frequent iterations to launch and maintain. But it doesn’t require a degree in web development or IT to create beautiful and informative web pages with Konveio. The vast majority of our clients don’t have prior experience with web design platforms, yet the planning team was able to customize our templates for their needs and then clone their own pages to quickly flesh out an entire website’s worth of pages like Denver moves has done.
“Konveio’s landing pages were also super helpful. Typically when we're trying to customize a landing page for a project on our city website we would have to work with our web designer. Even if I wanted a simple word changed, I’d have to email the web designer and request them to change it. And it just gets really tedious or I feel like I'm bothering them or that kind of thing.
Konveio was a lot easier because I could bypass the city's website completely and make a change myself. So it was a pretty seamless process. We didn't have to do a lot to build out our entire site because once we had the first page or so set up, then we were able to just clone (copy) it and modify the content, which was a great feature to have on there.
Additionally, I could create a Bitly link to share during public meetings and then say “everything that you need to go to is on this page and we'll we will keep it updated.” And so that also saves some time.”
- Riley LaMie
On Virtual Meetings and asynchronous engagement:
Time and time again we hear a similar story from our clients. Regardless of how easy or difficult it was for their organization to begin including virtual engagement options, citizens are coming to expect virtual options and many now prefer it.
“Digital engagement has really expanded the opportunity to a lot more people. We typically captured a very small demographic of people that just ‘happen to be available from five to six and could quickly drive over’ to a public meeting. But if someone had a child or didn't have a way to get there, the meeting was essentially not open to them.
I think we knew that virtual meetings were a possibility and could happen, but then Covid really jump-started and accelerated it. Konveio not only proved that it was possible, especially from the number of people that we’re reaching out to, but also proved that it's more efficient, uses fewer resources, and that we were able to engage a lot more people by using a virtual environment.
There are certain communities where you do have to go to them in order to have in-person conversations. And that that will continue. However, we're also finding that many people like being able to interact with materials on their own time.
For example, we can record our public meeting for residents to watch on their own time, and they can visit Konveio to provide input and we can continue promoting it for a month on end. So I think I see us coming more to that in the future as opposed to going back solely in person. I'm sure in person meetings will return, but it'll probably be a hybrid of some kind.”
- Riley LaMie
Where it’s heading now:
By the time they got everything underway and contracted, they had just three years to obtain public input and to construct all 125 miles of bike lanes. Half of the projects were placed on Konveio in 2021 and many of them will be built later this year (2022).
Starting in February and March of this year the planning team will begin public outreach on the second half of the projects. Those are the remaining projects that they’ll need to receive buy-in for their final designs and then those will move into construction in 2023.
Read More about Denver Moves: Denver Post: Denver’s five-year, 125-mile bike lane project passes halfway point