Earlier this month, the American Heart Association joined our coalition partners in the Denver Streets Partnership for a press conference to ask Mayor Michael Hancock and members of the Denver city council for $40 million per year for sidewalks, bike lanes, safe crossings and other safety measures.
“These leading non-profits came together because Denver is failing to provide people-friendly streets for people who walk and bike” said Piep van Heuven from Bicycle Colorado. “It’s not surprising when you see Denver is spending a third of what other comparable cities are spending on walking and biking needs.”
“Everyone is a pedestrian at some point and it helps a healthy lifestyle to walk and bike places. But if you feel unsafe or your path just ends into a traffic, you can’t really choose these modes,” said Rebecca Dubroff, from the American Heart Association’s Southwest Affiliate.
In their report, the Denver Streets Partnership (DSP) described people-friendly streets as “streets where walking, biking, and transit are the first choice of transportation for all people regardless of age, income, and ability. People-friendly streets are more than just layers of concrete and asphalt. They are living conduits that connect us to jobs, schools, services and amenities, and they enable everyone to participate in and benefit from Denver’s growth.”
Unfortunately, according to the coalition, walking, biking, or taking transit just isn’t a safe option for many residents. For example:
- 40% of Denver’s streets have missing or substandard sidewalks.
- Less than one-third of planned bicycle lanes have been built
- Only 36% of residents have access to frequent, all-day transit service.
- Poor street design encourages speeding and dangerous intersections, increasing the
chances of fatalities.
Because of our incomplete network and poor street designs, Denver’s traffic fatality rate is more than double the rate in Seattle, and more than triple the rate in Minneapolis. In Denver, compared to a person driving:
- A person walking is 30 times more likely to die in a crash
- A person biking is 6.5 times more likely to die in a crash
“Many individuals and families face dangerous obstacles just getting to the local store and crossing the street. Streets lack safe intersections, cars are speeding, and families don’t feel safe” said Jamie Lewis, of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.
“Housing and transportation costs are the two biggest expenses for most households,” said Hilarie Portell, of All In Denver. “People should be able to live in Denver and go about their daily rounds more safely, accessibly and affordably.”
The Denver Streets Partnership called for Mayor Michael Hancock and the Denver City Council to increase investments in walking and biking infrastructure because at our current rate of $5 million a year, it would take over 100 years to complete the 2,000 miles of missing and substandard sidewalks and 240 miles of missing bike lanes. Specifically the DSP called for
annual budget commitments of:
- At least $10 M for new sidewalks where they are missing on the City’s high injury
network, the 5% of streets where 50% of traffic fatalities occur
- At least $6 M for new bike lanes to connect neighborhoods in the center city
- At least $5 M for safety improvements on Federal Blvd, which has a traffic fatality rate
20 times the average for urban streets in Colorado
- At least $1 M for quick, low-cost improvements that can enhance safety immediately
while the City finds additional funding for longer-term improvements
- Funding to update Denver’s street design standards, which are outdated and do not
reflect current best practices for designing streets that are safe for people walking,
biking, and accessing transit
The DSP announced plans to also evaluate how well the city is investing its current transportation dollars and to coordinate a grassroots campaign to show broad support for Denver to prioritize people-friendly streets. Denver residents, business owners, and community groups can join the effort at www.denverstreetspartnership.org. The website makes it easy to connect with city
representatives to let them know about the need for people-friendly streets around the city and in local neighborhoods.
The Denver Streets Partnership (DSP) is a coalition of community organizations advocating for people-friendly streets in Denver. The DSP mission is to improve active transportation and transit infrastructure, accessibility and use to support healthy, inclusive, connected, and sustainable communities. The DSP coordinates advocacy and community engagement focused
on transportation funding and policy; Vision Zero; and complete streets.
The Steering Committee is comprised of eight non-profit policy advocacy organizations including All-In-Denver, American Heart Association, Bicycle Colorado, BikeDenver, CoPIRG, Colorado Cross Disability Coalition, Groundwork Denver, and WalkDenver.