Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Home News Two years later, how close is Denver to achieving its Vision Zero...

Two years later, how close is Denver to achieving its Vision Zero target? Not much


On May 16, 2019, a bus stops at the intersection of Federal Boulevard and Howard Place in Denver. The intersection is particularly dangerous for pedestrians, as the eight-lane road crosses bus and tram stops.

At an event this week, Mayor Michael Hancock reminded of the 88 people who have died on the streets of Denver since January 2018.

Two years ago, he launched the city's Vision Zero Action Plan with the main goal of not causing deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

But today, Denver is on track to see more people die on the streets this year than last year.

Jill Locantore of the Denver Streets Partnership said the city must dramatically increase the pace to reach the 2030 target. Earlier this year, DSP issued a testimony assessing the city's progress at Vision Zero. The overall grade – "C."

"It was really a mixed bag," Locantore said. "In some areas, the city has made great progress, in others less."

For example, she pointed to the city's success last year when she built 19 miles of promised 20 bike lanes. But their goal for the sidewalk was missed – only six of 14 miles were built in 2018.

"At present, 10 percent of the streets in Denver are missing sidewalks, and in another 30 percent of the streets the sidewalks are too narrow," she said. "At the current rate at which the city is building sidewalks, it will take literally hundreds of years for every neighborhood to have safe sidewalks."

Certain corridors in Denver would have to be completely redesigned, Locantore said. A particularly problematic intersection is Federal Boulevard and Howard Place in West Colfax. Eight lanes intersect with several bus stops and Federal-Decatur S-Bahn station.

"For people crossing, it's dangerous because they do not know how fast the cars go," said Dave Oliver of Denver as he waited at a bus stop at the intersection.

The pedestrian crossing, which extends over all eight lanes, is unusually long. Oliver said he needed 30 seconds to get from one side to the other, while the timer gives the goers only 25 seconds.

Oliver was not alone in his frustration. Another resident, Serena Robinson, was standing nearby on the stairs to the light rail.

"I feel insecure when I cross," she said. "Worried about people driving the light or something. Otherwise, you just have to make sure that you get across the street quickly, and you have to look every time you cross, because sometimes they let the light go. "

According to Locantore, the central problem of Federal Boulevard is that it is laid out like a highway. She proposed a redesign that would provide more space for people and less space for cars.

"If we can re-use some of these lanes to shorten the pedestrian crossing distance, it will increase the slower speeds and make it safer for anyone traveling on that road," she said.

The city has the potential to increase the pace of Vision Zero. Locantore said more staff and more funding was provided for the program this year. She also believes that mayor Hancock's statements earlier this week could mean further action in the future.

"It makes me hopeful that when he is re-elected mayor, he will double the city's efforts," said Locantore.

Hancock faces a runoff against Jamie Giellis on June 4.

About Xandra McMahon

Xandra McMahon is a reporter and producer on CPR News.

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