Pam Jiner: New Crosswalks in Montbello Are a Small Step in the Right Direction
This guest commentary was originally published at WalkDenver. Pam Jiner is a GirlTrek.org Community Advocate focusing on pedestrian safety and access in the Montbello neighborhood where she grew up. She is also the Co-Chair of the Montbello 20/20 Registered Neighborhood Organization and the Program Director of the Montbello Walks program.
Every day, I do my best to take a walk along the streets of Montbello. I grew up here and still live here, so for many years, I have seen and experienced how difficult it can be to simply take a walk in my neighborhood.
And I don’t walk alone. I walk with my friends and family. I walk with young ones who want to go play in the park. I walk with seniors who want to get exercise and socialize. I walk with neighbors with disabilities who sometimes have to travel in the street instead of the sidewalks that aren’t wide enough for them to use.
We have to deal with wide roads, narrow sidewalks, and unsafe crossing situations that prevent many Montbello residents from walking to the park, to the bus, to school, or to our neighbor’s house.
That’s why for the last few years, as one of the leaders of Montbello 2020 and Montbello Walks, I have been working hard to bring attention to the pedestrian safety issues in Montbello.
Last year, my fellow community advocates and I were excited and thankful to participate in the Vision Zero Community Program with the City & County of Denver and WalkDenver. We decided to focus on the Andrews & Tulsa intersection at the entrance to Melvin F. Silverman Park.
This beautiful park is a great space where our community can gather and spend time outdoors. But because of high speeds on Andrews, it can be scary to try and cross the street on foot or on bike.
With the help of WalkDenver and Councilwoman Gilmore, we were able to set up a temporary traffic calming demonstration at the intersection last June. With temporary crosswalks, more pedestrian space, a pop-up traffic circle, and flaggers, we were so happy to see that drivers would slow down and yield to pedestrians as they went through the intersection.
Since the demonstration, the City has taken a few steps to address our concerns. Shortly after our event, the Denver Police Department issued over 700 speeding tickets to drivers on Andrews. I collaborate with DPD regularly and know how hard they work to keep our community safe. But the high number of tickets issued, which can be burdensome for some of our community members to pay off, demonstrates that speeding on Andrews is a chronic problem that must be addressed through design changes, not just enforcement.
That’s why I was so happy to see that Denver Public Works installed new crosswalks and pedestrian signage across Andrews. But I also was disappointed that they were not added to both sides of the intersection. And without stop signs, drivers will still not be likely to slow down or yield to people trying to cross.
Unlike major streets like Peoria, streets like Andrews and Tulsa do not need major redesigns to improve safety. Crosswalks, stop signs, and simple traffic calming techniques that are quicker and less expensive to implement would make a big difference toward altering driver behavior and improving safety.
I fully believe in the City’s Vision Zero goal and it is my hope that through this initiative, they will listen to our concerns and work with us on changes that would ensure our basic right to walk safely and conveniently through our community.