Park Hill Neighbors Take Street Safety Into Their Own Hands

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The intersection of Montview Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard is especially dangerous, say Park Hill residents. Image: Google Street View

Parents in Park Hill are fighting to take back their streets from drivers who use their neighborhood as a speedway. Neighbors told Greater Park Hill that motorists are speeding, swerving, and hitting people walking and biking near their homes. Dissatisfied with the Hancock administration’s response, they’ve resorted to making their own traffic safety signs.

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An unfinished prototype of a sign that Park Hill neighbors hope will calm traffic in their neighborhood. Image: Lara Russo of Aral Design via Greater Park Hill

Reporter Cara DeGette says the campaign sprang to life after Andy Keiser had one too many brushes with death while biking his kids to school:

“An Aurora Police SUV was speeding westbound on Montview this morning as I was stopped with my two young daughters southbound on Forest,” Keiser wrote. “We commute with my bike and pull-behind trailer. I began to turn west in the bike lane when I noticed that the cop was illegally swerving into the bike lane to pass on the right. No lights and no indication that it was an emergency. He then proceeded to speed through the 20 mile-per-hour school zone that is marked with a blinking light without even slowing down (unless his brake lights are out too).

“If I wouldn’t have seen him, he would have killed all three of us and something like this (usually not a cop) happens almost every day while I’m trying to get to Park Hill Elementary.

“No disrespect intended but I don’t see why we have to wait until someone gets killed before we address a problem. In the meantime, stay safe and be defensive, especially if you’re on a bike.”

Local residents told Greater Park Hill that dangerous driving is a constant problem on Montview Boulevard and 23rd and 26th avenues. The intersection of Montview and Colorado Boulevard is especially dangerous during rush hour, when car traffic overwhelms the intersection used by kids heading to school at East High, parents said.

From 2012 to 2015, motorists struck nine people walking or biking on those streets, according to Denver’s crash database. Montview — an official city bike route — has a bike lane but no physical protection from cars. Many sections of 23rd and 26th have sidewalks that are too narrow for one person to comfortably walk past another — if they have sidewalks at all.

A driver hit Colin Deihl’s son, who was in the crosswalk at Montview and Colorado with the right of way, according to Greater Park Hill. Deihl wrote City Councilman Chris Herndon and asked him to act. “He is not badly injured, but that is not the point,” Deihl wrote. “Students should not be dodging cars when they are crossing in the crosswalk with a green light.”

Herndon says he asked Public Works to analyze potential safety improvements for the intersection last year and requested more police enforcement in February. Officers enforced the 30 mph speed limit for a few days, then police settled into “monitoring” the street — i.e. not issuing tickets.

Neighbors want the city to act faster. Fed up with the status quo, they are raising money to design and install signs to slow drivers down. When people have to resort to homemade signs to slow down traffic, you know the city isn’t doing its job to keep streets safe.

The neighborhood outcry in Park Hill is symptomatic of street safety problems plaguing the whole city. Denver got a Vision Zero commitment from Mayor Hancock, now it needs City Hall to follow through with real resources and the will to redesign streets.

  • Daniel

    Fancy that, the exact intersection I was hit by a driver at in 2014. There’s a very good chance the increased visibility from a bike-box would have prevented the crash. Some good the sharrows did. I do hope she told all of her fellow Park Hill motorists that left turn cost her insurance company a $41,000 (gross) settlement. Bacchus and Schanker did damn fine work.

  • John

    They need to reduce the number of lanes on Colorado Blvd. in Park Hill (and other areas too). A full-lane median with planted trees would soften the transition from ugly river of asphalt to park, don’t you think?

    • Daniel

      Montview is gigantic as well, especially considering how few lanes it actually has and how little traffic it has. That street is RIPE for traffic calming measures and a protected bike lane.

      • John

        Well, Mountview could use a curb protected bike lane. It would make a great showpiece for what good stuff can be done. However, my main concern with Montview now is the awful state of the asphalt in the painted bike lanes. And even some of the residential side streets nearby in Park Hill have horrible

        • John

          Well, Montview could use a curb protected bike lane. It would be a great showcase for what good stuff can be done. My main concern with Montview is the awful state of the asphalt in the bike lanes. Even some of the nearby residential streets in Park Hill have horrible paving (Birch St., others too).

  • John Riecke

    And since there’s money in that part of town how much you wanna bet something gets done?

  • Scott Sanderson

    Good to hear the neighbors are making some noise. We are shopping for a house now, and finding a bike able neighborhood is a top priority.

  • Walter Crunch

    This is why every neighborhood should fight any two lane expansion tooth and nail. Two lanes simply encourage speeding and do nothing for traffic.

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