Tonight: Help Create a Neighborhood Strategy for Better Walking and Biking

The Community Active Living Coalition aims to improve walkability and bikeability in Denver neighborhoods where obesity is most prevalent. Image: Department of Environmental Health

For Denver’s low-income residents, walking, biking, and transit are not “alternative transportation” choices — they are the only choices. The lower the neighborhood’s income, the higher the need for walkability and bikeability, yet the worse it is to walk or bike.

Enter the Community Active Living Coalition, led by Denver Health, the Department of Environmental Health, and WalkDenver. They’ve put together a program aimed at energizing residents to become advocates for a more walkable and bikeable environment in the name of public health. CALC’s first meeting is tonight, so come join the conversation.

“The main goals that I see are that we’re bringing together a group of community members and elevating their voice,” said Kayla Gilbert of the Department of Environmental Health. “CALC can be the liaison between the community’s voice and the city… whoever the decision makers are that can give more opportunity for people to have safe routes around the city.”

The program spans Denver, but targets neighborhoods north of Colfax and west of Broadway, where household incomes are lower than average, the state of infrastructure for walking and biking is poor, and obesity is more prevalent.

Households making $20,000 a year or less bike more often than higher income households, both for transportation and recreation, according to a national study by People for Bikes. Locally, a report released last month by Mile High Connects found that Denver’s “low income and/or minority communities are disadvantaged by lack of connections or poorly maintained facilities.”

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Households that make less money drive less and bike more. Image: People For Bikes

While studies have compiled compelling data about Denver’s woeful walkability, CALC aims to add some perspective from residents who experience it daily. The solutions will vary, but they’ll start with the people who have the most valuable point of view on their neighborhoods’ needs.

“That’s what we’ll be talking about tonight — where we want to focus, what those top areas are,” Gilbert said. “Is it bike lanes? Pedestrian crossings? Sidewalk policy? Encouragement programs? What do we think is the best way to affect people’s decisions on whether to walk or bike?”

The Community Active Living Coalition meets from 5 – 6 pm tonight, October 8, at CU Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning Building, downtown. 1250 14th Street, Room 470.