Denver students rallied with advocates today to demand that Mayor Michael Hancock save lives by redesigning the city’s dangerous, high-speed streets. At the City and County Building, students joined the Vision Zero Coalition, headed by WalkDenver, to ask Hancock to provide Denver Public Works an annual funding stream for street redesigns.
The event aimed to hold Hancock to his commitment to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on Denver streets. Last year, 61 people lost their lives on Denver streets — the most since 2005.
“We have the knowledge and the tools to prevent traffic crashes from ending in tragedy,” said Jill Locantore, associate director of WalkDenver. “We know that speed is the leading cause of fatal crashes. The difference between a driver who hits a pedestrian going 20 miles per hour versus 40 miles per hour is the difference between life and death. We also know how to design streets for safe speeds.”
Second-graders from Downtown Denver Expeditionary and high school kids from around the city handed Hancock a petition with about 900 signatures asking for narrower streets, bike lanes, sidewalks, and crosswalks (you can still sign it).
Deyondrah Bridgeman, who was seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver on her way to school at East, had a particularly poignant message for the mayor. “I would dearly want you to make our busy city streets safe,” she said. “I don’t want what happened to me ever happening to anyone. Ever. Please make a change to keep everyone protected from complete harm.”
It’s been almost one year to the day since Hancock promised to end traffic deaths and serious injuries, and the city still doesn’t have a comprehensive plan of action. Today, the mayor again promised “bold” changes.
“We have to figure out… how to keep this city moving forward in a people-centric transportation network versus an automobile-centric transportation network,” Hancock told the crowd. “I guarantee that sometime in 2017 we’re gonna announce a new, bold commitment to transportation mobility that’s gonna move all those initiatives forward.”
Exactly what the mayor has in mind remains unclear. A “significant portion” of the $550 million bond heading to voters this November will go towards “transportation and mobility,” Hancock said last week. There’s also been talk of elevating streets and transportation policy by creating a new city agency, separate from the Department of Public Works. Cities like Oakland and Seattle have prioritized transit, biking, and walking by restructuring departments along those lines.