As Traffic Deaths Pile up, Mayoral Candidates Offer No New Commitment to Cheap Safety Upgrades

As a part of its Vision Zero commitment, Denver installed paint and plastic posts to create a median and curb extensions to increase safety at the intersection of Colfax Ave., Park Ave., and Franklin St. Photo: David Sachs (file photo)
As a part of its Vision Zero commitment, Denver installed paint and plastic posts to create a median and curb extensions to increase safety at the intersection of Colfax Ave., Park Ave., and Franklin St. Photo: David Sachs (file photo)

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Drivers caused car crashes that killed two people in recent weeks, bringing the number of Denver traffic fatalities to 28 this year, up sharply from the 17 killed at this point last year. If the trend continues, the city is on track to see a second year in a row of increasing fatalities.

As the June 4 mayoral runoff election nears and the city begins crafting its budget for next year, Streetsblog asked candidates Jamie Giellis and Mayor Hancock if they would commit to spending $6 million on inexpensive street safety upgrades that could be installed quickly to slow drivers at dangerous intersections. The Denver Streets Partnership called for the funding in a May 6 letter to Mayor Hancock. Though both candidates offered general support for the idea, neither made a firm commitment.

“As we enter 2020 budget planning, we will give great consideration to these common sense approaches as we continue our journey towards the Vision Zero goals,” said Hancock via a campaign spokesperson.

The median created with low-cost paint and plastic bollards.
The median created with low-cost paint and plastic bollards. Photo: David Sachs

Giellis offered a similar response.

“Funding low cost improvements to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in Denver will be a priority of my administration,” she said through a spokesperson. “Our streets are for everyone, and I am committed to increasing the budget for these types of solutions.”

Street safety advocates urged whoever becomes the next mayor to take stronger action.

“To be a leading Vision Zero city, Denver will have to step up and fund immediate and significant on-street safety treatments,” said Piep van Heuven, chair of the Denver Streets Partnership and policy director of Bicycle Colorado.

Sharper turns require drivers to slow down, helping to increase visibility of pedestrians.
Sharper turns require drivers to slow down, helping to increase visibility of pedestrians. Photo: David Sachs

She cited the intersection at Colfax St. at Park Ave. and Franklin St., where in 2017 the city painted the street and added plastic posts to create curb extensions and a median. Such measures slow traffic and give pedestrians a place to stop if they don’t make it across the street. “Because of the added paint and bollards, everyone is driving more slowly and paying more attention to the people crossing the street,” she said.

The $6 million request would make up 0.41% of the city’s budget if it holds steady at the current level of $1.46 billion.

Denver pledged to end all traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030 through a Vision Zero commitment made in February 2016. But in 2018, drivers killed significantly more people than the year beforeIn January, Street Safety advocates gave the city a “C” for its Vision Zero progress during the previous year.

 


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