At Event Remembering 88 Victims of Traffic Violence, Mayor Admits to Inadequate Response

After listing the street safety measures the city installed last year, Mayor Hancock said, “That’s not enough. And certainly not fast enough.”

Councilwoman Debbie Ortega slowly reads the people killed at an event to remember the 88 people drivers killed on Denver streets since 2018. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Councilwoman Debbie Ortega slowly reads the people killed at an event to remember the 88 people drivers killed on Denver streets since 2018. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Cyclists depart City Hall for Denver Sunken Gardens Park. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Cyclists depart City Hall for Denver Sunken Gardens Park. Photo: Andy Bosselman

Dozens of cyclists and pedestrians walked and biked to a ceremony yesterday where they remembered the 88 people killed on Denver’s streets since January 2018. There, Mayor Michael Hancock admitted that the city isn’t doing enough to stop traffic fatalities and serious injuries.

“Every one of those lives lost is unacceptable and preventable,” Hancock said before listing the street safety measures installed last year. They included nine pedestrian refuge islands, 19 miles of bike infrastructure, four traffic circles, six miles of sidewalks, and 12 new traffic signals.

“That’s not enough,” he added. “And certainly not fast enough.”

People on foot carry signs to a ceremony remembering the victims of traffic violence. Photo: Andy Bosselman
People on foot carry signs to a ceremony remembering the victims of traffic violence. Photo: Andy Bosselman

Family members who lost loved ones, street safety advocates and survivors of traffic violence attended the event, first meeting at City Hall before departing for Sunken Gardens Park. There, they planted signs in a large circle, each dedicated to a victim, before city officials used subdued voices to read each name. 

Michelle Roche with her son Cole who died on July 14, 2016 when a reckless driver hit him.
Michelle Roche with her son Cole who died on July 14, 2016 when a reckless driver hit him.

Michelle Roche, who lost her 14-year-old son Cole when a reckless driver hit him on July 14, 2016, agrees with the mayor’s admission that the city should do more. In an interview before the event, she critiqued the city’s Vision Zero Action Plan, which is part of its commitment to end all traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.

“Right now it just sounds like a propaganda campaign,” she said. “If you ask me, that little trickle of dollars that they’re putting towards the action plan … it’s like in marketing, we would call that greenwashing.”

But at the event, Roche wanted all the lives lost remembered.

“The main thing here is to focus on the victims, and those families whose lives have been permanently altered,” she said. “Because it’s so easy to gloss over traffic crashes as just statistics, or temporary disruptions in the daily commute — and forget about the human toll.”

“That’s not enough, and certainly not fast enough.” Mayor Michael Hancock said of last year's Vision Zero accomplishments. Photo: Andy Bosselman
“That’s not enough, and certainly not fast enough.” Mayor Michael Hancock said of last year’s Vision Zero accomplishments. Photo: Andy Bosselman

Eulois Cleckly, who heads the city’s Vision Zero program through his role as head of Public Works, started the ceremony by slowly reading the names of several victims. Eight members of the city council followed, many reading the names of victims in their own districts. Father Joseph Dang, who has worked with multiple Vietnamese families after drivers killed their loved ones on Federal Blvd., offered a final blessing.

The Denver Streets Partnership, whose members advocate for safer streets, asked attendees to write postcards to city officials, each suggesting that they work to lower the city’s default speed limit from 25 mph to 20 mph.

Fr. Joseph Dang offers a blessing to the victims of traffic violence. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Fr. Joseph Dang offers a blessing to the victims of traffic violence. Photo: Andy Bosselman

“We know that speed is the number one variable that could result in somebody dying,” said Roche. “The difference between going 25 and 35 could be life and death for somebody.”

Eulois Cleckly, who oversees Denver's Vision Zero program in his role of head of Public Works, arrived at the ceremony on bike. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Eulois Cleckly, who oversees Denver’s Vision Zero program in his role of head of Public Works, arrived at the ceremony on bike. Photo: Andy Bosselman

Since the death of her son, Roche has become a street safety advocate, volunteering with organizations like WalkDenver and Bicycle Colorado. With the mayor’s admission of an unsatisfactory response to street safety, she has a message for the him and other city officials.  

“Walk your talk. Do it,” she said. “Put the dollars there and make them a priority.”


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  • PabloDali

    It’s time for mandatory licensing, registration and liability insurance for all bicyclists who use the public roadways.

    • TM

      Go fuck yourself

  • Mike McDaniel

    If only we had an opportunity to fire Hancock…

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