Denver’s Traffic Safety Issue Is a Public-Health Crisis

Denver is on a record-breaking streak, and that’s not a good thing.

In 2017, Denver leaders committed to eliminating traffic fatalities and serious physical injuries by 2030, an initiative known as Vision Zero. Every year since the exception of 2020, Denver has run in the opposite direction. In 2022 alone, an estimated 82 people will die on our roads in preventable traffic crashes, while 460 have died since Denver leaders made the Vision Zero commitment. That doesn’t indicate a lot of commitment to me.

It’s a public-health crisis, just one of many Denverites are facing right now. While traffic safety is far from the only issue on which we need bold leadership, it is an important issue that cuts across other disparities in our community. Nationally, homeless individuals, poor people, and people of color are over-represented in traffic death statistics.

I’m calling on potential city leaders — the people over 75 who are running to be Denver’s next mayor and city council members — to make a serious commitment to transformative changes to our transportation system that will save our lives. are necessary for Streets.

Since committing to Vision Zero, to the city’s credit, it has built some bikeways and bus lanes and made improvements to some of Denver’s deadliest streets, known as the High Injury Network – 5 The percentage of roads where 50 percent of traffic is fatal are like Colfax and Federal. But statistics show that this is not enough. Ultimately, if we want to eliminate traffic deaths, we need to substantially reduce our reliance on driving as the primary form of transportation in Denver, and find other, safer ways to actually be easier and more convenient. Making methods has to be given priority.

While there are now dedicated funds in Denver’s annual budget specifically for Vision Zero and multimodal projects, funding levels are still very low relative to the scale of the problem. Perhaps even more troubling, projects that could improve safety and connectivity for biking and pedestrians have been repeatedly watered down by complaints about the loss of parking or an increase in vehicle travel times of a minute or two. has been dropped or completely eliminated. In addition, the city is pushing outdated, car-centric projects like the Broadway and I-25 interchanges, which are clearly not in line with Denver’s safety and climate goals. It is as if the current administration expects frivolity and minimal action to make a significant impact on this capacity crisis.

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Denver Street Partnership

At the heart of the transformative changes needed to achieve zero traffic deaths – and a strategy that has so far been mostly overlooked – is better bus service. Our main roads, many of which make up the High Injury Network, are designed like highways to move as many cars as possible as quickly as possible, which makes them inherently dangerous and prone to accidents. Buses are a safer and more efficient way to move many people along these corridors. With the improved frequency, speed and reliability of bus service, more people would choose to ride the bus rather than drive, as they would actually have another option. Roads will be able to carry more people to their destinations more safely each day than the status quo dominated by heavy car traffic.

Street design changes that will make bus service faster and more reliable will help transform these corridors from dangerous highways into people-friendly main roads that generate more customers for local businesses and make them safer places to walk.

Denver can do better, and Denverites deserve better than the status quo.

To the candidates campaigning to be our next mayor and city council representative: Don’t let “better than” be your bar for leadership. Be bold and call for sweeping change that will save lives. Build a city that helps build community because neighbors can safely walk our Main Streets, a city that is taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, one that is taking action to reduce air pollution is working, and one that is creating access, not limiting it. We all are counting on you.

Molly McKinley is the policy director for the Denver Streets Partnership, a coalition of community organizations advocating for people-friendly streets in Denver.

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