In Memory of Those Who Lost Their Lives to Dangerous Denver Streets
The United States faces a severe public health crisis, but you won’t see Leonardo DiCaprio draw attention to it at the Golden Globes or the Denver Broncos wearing special uniforms to raise awareness.
Last year, about 35,000 people in the U.S. were killed in traffic. The trend is moving in the wrong direction, and fatalities are accelerating fastest among people who were killed while walking or biking. If we turn it around and achieve the same per capita traffic fatality rate as nations like the UK, Japan, or Germany, tens of thousands of deaths would be prevented each year.
The loss of life is so large, it’s hard to comprehend the scope of the problem. There’s a tendency to not even acknowledge that something is wrong. Each individual traffic fatality usually gets swept under the rug — police do a cursory investigation, and the incident gets a few sentences in the paper.
Our decision makers, by and large, view traffic deaths as the cost of doing business rather than preventable incidents.
There is one day a year, though, when people come together to raise awareness of traffic deaths and how they can be prevented — the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, which was observed yesterday.
Denver can do much more to redesign streets for greater safety and prevent traffic fatalities. Adding protected bike lanes, for instance, is proven to reduce traffic deaths and injuries. But the city is not moving fast enough.
Despite Mayor Michael Hancock’s purported commitment to end traffic deaths and serious injuries, Denver is moving in the wrong direction. So far this year, 57 people have died traveling on Denver’s streets. That’s already eight more than 2015’s total. When it comes to the most vulnerable road users, 24 pedestrians and bicyclists have been killed so far — four more than all of last year.
Of the 24 people who lost their lives, only seven drivers have been charged with a crime. (Three cases are pending.)
Here are the names of the people who have lost their lives walking and biking in Denver in 2016:
David Washington II, 26. Killed crossing East Colfax Avenue. No charges.
Matthew Segura, 15. Killed crossing Leetsdale Drive. No charges.
Kevin Scott. Killed walking on Wadsworth Way. Driver charged with careless driving resulting in death.
Jeffrey Edwards, 49. Killed biking at 29th and Brighton. Driver charged with failure to yield right of way.
Justin Vigil, 28. Killed walking at West Colfax and Mariposa. No charges.
Barbara Sandoefer. Killed walking at Quebec and Sand Creek. No charges.
Drew Dietrich, 27. Killed biking at 1st and Gilpin. Charges pending.
James Wright. Killed biking on East Colfax Avenue. No charges.
Nolberto Ayala, 86. Killed walking at 20th and Park Avenue West. No charges.
Cole Sukle, 14. Killed walking on Yale Way. No charges.
Melissa Montañez, 19. Killed crossing Quebec Street. Charges pending.
Nichoals Richling, 26. Killed crossing Alameda Avenue. Driver charged with vehicular homicide.
Colleen O’Connor, 60. Killed crossing 1st Avenue at Downing. Driver charged with vehicular homicide.
Juan Perez, 50. Killed walking at 56th and Peña. No charges.
Rodney Johnson, 60. Killed walking at 56th and Peña. No charges.
Unidentified Male. Killed walking at 18th and Federal. No charges.
Matthew Schweiger, 32. Killed walking at 49th and Federal. No charges.
Janet Thompson, 48. Killed walking at 23rd Avenue and I-25. Charges pending.
Gerardo Garcia. Killed biking at Alton and Mississippi. Driver charged with careless driving resulting in death.
Ronald Harrison. Killed crossing the street in his wheelchair at 29th and Colorado. No chargers.
Karina Pulec, 28. Killed crossing the street at 13th and Broadway. Driver charged with careless driving resulting in death.
Vicki Allen, 67. Killed while walking to her bus stop int he 9400 block of East Alameda Boulevard.
Corey Burgesser. Killed at 48th and Peña. No charges.
Jasper Groves. Killed while walking at 11th and Grant.
Isam Alshawi. Killed walking in the 1500 block of Colorado Boulevard.