5 New Deaths on Denver Streets Leave Advocates Wondering When Safety Upgrades Will Come
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Correction (August 20): The Traffic Violence Report graphic above has been updated to reflect that 17 people pedestrians have been killed on Denver’s streets so far this year, not 15, as previously reported.
This week, the Police Department added five new people to its 2019 list of Denver traffic fatalities, a 49 percent increase compared to this time last year. The sharp rise continues a trend of increasing deaths, which is likely to make this the deadliest year on Denver streets in more than a decade.
After drivers killed two bicyclists in July, Mayor Hancock held a press conference where he acknowledged that the fatalities are a public health crisis and promised to install a range of street safety upgrades fast. The changes include adding high-visibility crosswalks, putting crossing posts in several crosswalks and reducing speed limits.
“They’ve announced these street design changes,” said Jill Locantore of the Denver Streets Partnership. “But the timeline for when those changes will be made is really unclear at this point.”
It’s been nearly three weeks since the mayor’s announcement and advocates say little has been done, leaving them wondering when the mayor will follow through. But Nancy Kuhn, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Works says the city remains on track to complete the changes promised by the end of the month:
- Reducing the speed limit on Evans Avenue between Huron Street and Federal Boulevard from 35 to 30
- Adding in-street pedestrian crossing signposts at 10 locations
- Installing on-street bike corrals at 12 locations
At the Mayor’s press conference, the Department of Public Works listed a handful of other projects to be completed before year-end, including:
- Four streets will see speed limit reductions
- High-visibility crosswalks will be installed downtown
- More of the 15th Street bike lane will be protected
- On Park Avenue from Lawrence to 20th Street, striping changes have been implemented and two pedestrian islands will be added
- On 13th Avenue from Xanthia to Yosemite, the city will install a pedestrian crossing and back-in angle parking
- Five driver feedback signs will be added to the backs of city vehicles
But advocates say as the number of dead justify a faster pace and the exact timeline when many of these projects is not clear.
“They’ve announced these street design changes but are still pretty slow in actually making the changes on the ground,” said Locantore. “Clearly they’re not building the infrastructure fast enough”
In a blog post, the Denver Streets Partnership today called on the city to go further and immediately adopt policy changes across the entire city, including five low-cost measures:
- Reduce the default residential speed limit from 25 to 20
- Ban right turns on red lights along the high-injury network and downtown
- Increase fines for drivers who park in or block bike lanes
- Eliminate the need for pedestrians to hit “beg buttons” for walk signals on the high-injury network
- Work with the state to allow widespread use of automated enforcement (radar speed cameras and red light cameras)
The 55 people killed on the city’s streets this year approaches the 58 road fatalities in all of 2018. On February 17, 2016, Mayor Hancock committed to Vision Zero with a pledge to end all traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.
Fatalities Update From the Denver Police Department:
- Kevin Chaisson, a pedestrian, died after a July 12 crash involving a driver. Police determined Chaisson’s actions were the “proximate cause of the crash.” Charges were declined.
- Logan Rickenbacker was killed in a crash with an auto on August 14. Police determined Rickenbacker’s actions were the “proximate cause of the crash.” Charges are pending.
- An RTD A-Line train hit and killed Paul Hartman on August 14. Police determined Hartman’s actions were the “proximate cause of the crash.”
- Joseph Teague died August 14 after a crash between a motorcyclist and a driver. Vehicular homicide charges were filed.
- Police arrested Jesus Molina Gamboa, who allegedly fled the scene after hitting and killing Aaron Boyd, another motorist, in a crash Sunday. Police charged Gamboa with vehicular homicide.
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