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The Denver Streets Partnership issued its second annual report card and awarded an overall grade of C+ for the City and County of Denver's progress to meet their own Vision Zero Action Plan aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The Report Card focuses specifically on Denver’s progress meeting their goals on street safety improvements, such as building sidewalks and bike lanes. Our current street system is dangerous by design, and the City will not achieve zero traffic fatalities or serious injuries without these fundamental improvements.
"It's important to recognize the good things Denver accomplished while also maintaining that traffic violence is entirely preventable," said Jill Locantore, Executive Director of the Denver Streets Partnership. "We grade the City of Denver according to their own identified roadmap for eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries in the Vision Zero Action Plan. It's disappointing when basic infrastructure like sidewalks and safe pedestrian crossings on our most dangerous streets gets routinely put on the back burner."
Denver performed slightly better in 2019 compared to 2018 at meeting their goals for street safety improvements as outlined in the Vision Zero Action Plan. Notably, the City made significant progress on two types of improvements: corridor-level traffic calming on 15th St, 17th St, 32nd Ave, and Park Ave and street lighting enhancements throughout Denver.
However, the City continued to fall well short of their goal to build 14 miles of new sidewalks, and also fell behind on their goal to build 20 miles of new bike lanes, after meeting this goal in 2018. While the City exceeded its numeric goal for pedestrian crossing and intersection improvements, the vast majority of these were not located on the High Injury Network, which is the 5% of the streets where 50% of the traffic fatalities occur and includes streets like Colfax Avenue, Federal Boulevard, and Colorado Boulevard.
Traffic fatalities spiked last year, with a total of 70 in 2019 compared to 59 in 2018. "Each one of these fatalities is a human life cut tragically short. The fact that the trend is in the wrong direction underscores the City can't afford to fall short in implementing their Vision Zero street safety plan," said Danny Katz, Executive Director of CoPIRG and chair of the Denver Streets Partnership. "Last year's high number of deaths and injuries also highlights that while major safety infrastructure improvements take time, we have an urgency to take additional actions to improve safety in the near term such as reducing speed limits."
In addition to accelerating implementation of the street safety improvements highlighted in this Report Card, the Denver Streets Partnership calls on city leaders to enact the following policy changes to immediately make our streets safer:
- Lower speed limits citywide
- Ban turns on red downtown and on the High Injury Network
- Increase fines for parking in or blocking bike lanes
- Eliminate pedestrian “beg buttons” on the High Injury Network
- Aggressively pursue a state legislative strategy expanding the use of photo speed radar and red light cameras
- Fully fund planned Vision Zero projects
See the full report card and policy recommendations at denverstreetspartnership.org/vision-zero-denver
More details on some of the specific street safety improvements implemented in 2019 are available in the City's 2019 Annual Report.
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