Streets Partnership: Hancock’s Budget Needs $22M for Walking and Biking, and You Can Help Tuesday

Photo: David Sachs
Photo: David Sachs

Budget season is a crucial time of year for anyone hoping to see Denver build out its walking and biking network this century. That’s not an exaggeration. At its current pace, the city won’t close the book on 240 miles of missing bike lanes and 2,000 miles of planned sidewalks for more than 100 years, according to the Denver Streets Partnership.

A big reason for that snail’s pace? Meager annual funding. So the Partnership is asking Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver City Council members to back up their talk of safe streets with more funding in the 2019 budget — and its asking you to raise your voices in support at an event in front of the City and County Building on Tuesday. It’s from noon to 1 p.m.

“Just like every year we spend money on roads, every year we need to spend money on sidewalks and bike lanes,” said WalkDenver executive director and Partnership member Jill Locantore. “In fact, it’s even more important, because the streets already exists — the city is just trying to maintain them. While in the case of walking and biking, we’re trying to just finish building out the networks that are woefully incomplete at this point.”

The Partnership says Hancock’s budget should put $22 million toward bike lanes and sidewalks in order to set Denver on the right path, and that the City Council should approve it. The group will deliver a petition to officials saying as much on Tuesday.

Here’s the breakdown of what they’re hoping for:

  • $6 million or bike lanes
  • $10 million for sidewalks
  • $5 million for better crosswalks on Federal Boulevard
  • $1 million for rapid safety fixes like the one at Colfax, Franklin, and Park

Advocates also want to see more money for transit — which is expected, given the city’s new transit plan — but aren’t advocating for a specific figure because the plan doesn’t drill down into costs.

“This is one of the most important decisions that the city makes every year — what to include in the annual budget for walking and biking,” Locantore said. “The sad thing is that we have to ask every year. It’s just a given every year that the city is gonna spend money on paving the roads and filling potholes, but it’s not a given that they’ll spend money on walking and biking, let alone continue to increase it.”

  • TakeFive

    I recently realized that last year, Hancocks budget proposal was released September 12th so next year’s budget release is presumably about a month away.

    Given that Hancock has already publicly committed to more bike lanes you’d have to think that will be included – besides if these lanes are city-wide it’s a good campaign strategy, right?

  • iBikeCommute

    Interesting that city council has proposed a sales tax funding parks at $40 million per year. My impression is that most denverites would prioritize funding transportation and/or housing over parks but there didn’t seem to be much community discussion before this tax was proposed.

    • TakeFive

      Uhhh, no. From a popularity standpoint not that many people care about sidewalks and while many may think bike lanes a good idea (most) ALL people LOVE their parks. This was Jolon Clark’s idea but it ended up being sponsored by 9 council members and approved by a vote of 12-1. Denver is currently the only metro county that doesn’t have dedicated funding for parks and/or open space.

      Admittedly I’m biased having spent time in most all of Denver’s parks but out of five ballot proposals asking for money the parks initiative should be the easiest to pass.

      • iBikeCommute

        We shall see. I think most people are pretty happy with the state of Denver’s parks but are really pissed about sitting in traffic and housing costs. I’m not sure Denver voters will see the need to spend more on parks, especially when weighed against tax increases for roads and education.

        • TakeFive

          Excellent points to make… I’d agree to a degree. 🙂

          Couple of things. There’s a difference between advocacy passion and what a majority of voters (who don’t pay much attention) prefer. Interestingly, it dawned on me last night that Initiative 153 should generate the same $’s for Denver transportation as the parks proposal. If the .62 percent tax for roads & transportation passes 40% will go to local jurisdictions; forty percent of .62 would be .248% or virtually the same as park’s .025%.

  • Brent Mowery

    I’m confused. Is the group proposing $6 million on top of the $25/year for 5 years the mayor proposed for bike lanes? And how does the bond money fit into all this?

    • David Sachs

      Locantore called the bond money a a “down payment” on the network. It’s $18 million over 10 years. I believe the mayor’s proposal is 25 miles of bike lanes per year.

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