Eyes on the Street: Denver Reduces Speed Limit on Evans Avenue

Department of Public Works employee Ernie Armijo hands a new speed limit sign to Danny Gonzales before it was installed on Evans Avenue Aug. 30. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Department of Public Works employee Ernie Armijo hands a new speed limit sign to Danny Gonzales before it was installed on Evans Avenue Aug. 30. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A 35 mph speed limit sign before it was replaced with a new sign that indicated a new reduced speed limit. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A 35 mph speed limit sign before it was replaced with a new sign that indicated a new reduced speed limit. Photo: Andy Bosselman

Today Denver reduced the speed limit from 35 to 30 mph on a stretch of East Evans Avenue from Federal Boulevard to Huron Street. The safety measure is one of Denver’s efforts to cut serious injuries and fatalities on the city’s streets, but most drivers disregarded the new speed limit.

Screen Shot 2019-08-30 at 2.26.50 PM

This morning, electronic message signs warned drivers ahead of the change, while orange flags drew attention to the 11 new speed limit signs. But even with these efforts to raise awareness, few drivers obeyed the new 30 mph limit.

Shortly after workers from the Department of Public Works installed one of the new speed limit signs this morning, Streetsblog stood a few feet away to track the speeds of drivers. During a 10 minute period:

  • Nearly all drivers traveled between 36 and 45 mph
  • Very few drivers kept speeds under 35 mph
  • Two drivers exceeded 50 mph, one reaching 53 mph
  • All city-owned vehicles traveled over the speed limit, including a fire truck, a sheriff’s vehicle and pickups from Denver Water and the Parks & Recreation department
A cyclist bikes near a variable message sign warning drivers of a reduced speed limit. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A cyclist bikes near a variable message sign warning drivers of a reduced speed limit. Photo: Andy Bosselman

The reduced speed limits come after drivers killed two bicyclists last month. In response, Mayor Michael Hancock announced a range of street safety projects that the city would install through the end of the year at 24 locations. Those include the speed limit reductions and in-street pedestrian crossing signs, like those installed last week in the Washington Park neighborhood.

Danny Gonzales installs a 20 mph speed limit sign on Aug. 30, 2019. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Danny Gonzales installs a 20 mph speed limit sign in a school zone on Aug. 30, 2019. The school zone speed limit reduced from 25 to 30 mph. Photo: Andy Bosselman

Street safety advocates praised the mayor for taking fast action, but noted that even with the new speed limits many people will continue to drive fast because Denver’s streets often remain designed like highways.

“The reality is that our streets are designed to encourage dangerous behaviors and to create conflict between people who are using different modes of travel to get around,” said Jill Locantore, of WalkDenver after the mayor’s August 7 press conference.

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Safety advocates would like to see the city slow streets with temporary traffic calming measures. Those could include pedestrian islands and enhanced crosswalks, like those created with paint and plastic posts in 2017 at Colfax and Park Avenue West.

The 55 traffic fatalities reported so far this year represents a nearly 50 percent increase over the number of deaths at this time last year.

A variable message sign alternates between warning drivers of the reduced speed limit and invoking "Denver Vision Zero." Photo: Andy Bosselman
A variable message sign alternates between warning drivers of the reduced speed limit and promoting “Denver Vision Zero.” Photo: Andy Bosselman

On February 17, 2016, Mayor Hancock committed Denver to a Vision Zero pledge to end all traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.


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