WalkDenver Wants to Improve Colfax By Showing Off Its Human Face
Colfax Avenue: the “longest, wickedest street in America.”
For a while now, it’s been becoming less like a state highway for cars, and more like a vibrant, urban street for people. Yet it’s far from the pedestrian paradise that WalkDenver, the city’s preeminent pedestrian advocacy group, envisions. The group has long focused its attention on the city’s most colorful street — and one of its most dangerous for pedestrians — and will continue to do so with an event tonight at the SIE FilmCenter.
“I Walk Colfax” is a party, but WalkDenver hopes it’s the beginning of a change in policy, too. Thursday’s event is the official launch of its People on Colfax Initiative, which aims to demonstrate to city decision makers like Mayor Michael Hancock and his Department of Public Works that Colfax Avenue is a place for living, breathing people, not just cars.
A demo to show what West Colfax would look like as a livable street is already underway, and Thursday’s event on East Colfax should keep that momentum going. It’ll include a screening of short films, like this one, that put a human face on the car-oriented corridor:
So what does Colfax need most?
“More pedestrian crossings, whether it’s traffic lights or pedestrian activated signals, bulb-outs, so pedestrians are more visible, giving the drivers the cue that this a place for people,” said WalkDenver’s Jill Locantore. “There’s just more and more businesses opening that residents want to get to, but aren’t able to, unless they go four or five blocks out of their way.”
One new traffic signal is planned for East Colfax and Steele Street which will slightly improve a five-block dessert of crosswalks. Still, Colfax sometimes goes six blocks without a place to safely cross the four-lane strip (see Colorado Boulevard to Cherry Street). Since walking an extra 10 or 15 minutes to get to a destination directly across the street isn’t human nature, people cross halfway and stand in the center turn lane (also known as a “suicide lane”). Or they just run across, trying to beat speeding motor vehicles. WalkDenver wants to make the case that this isn’t OK, and they have the backing of neighborhood groups and local businesses.
If the city’s decision makers don’t make Colfax a better place for pedestrians, it’ll be because they chose not to listen.