Park Hill Neighbors Take Street Safety Into Their Own Hands

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.

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.