A Farewell as Streetsblog Denver Lays off Only Staffer — but It’s Not the End
Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for Streetsblog Denver. The website will continue in a different form (more on that here). But it no longer has a full-time journalist, who was the site’s only employee. The independent nonprofit that supported it will close.
The organization’s financial situation was always precarious. As expenses increased, myself and the all-volunteer board of directors were not able to raise enough money to move past a hand-to-mouth existence.
To all of the people who helped Streetsblog, whether by donating, volunteering or contributing content, the board and I would like to express our gratitude.
In the nearly five years that your support sustained the organization, Streetsblog used its role as an advocacy journalism site to push the city toward better walking, better biking and better transit.
In our mission to elevate the profile of the city’s “street fight,” our work gave a voice to the community of livable streets advocates. We influenced local media. We pushed for better bike lanes. We covered the problems behind RTD’s current crisis. And we made a case for safer streets.
Our first story, by founding editor Dave Sachs, advocated for Vision Zero. In 2015, it seemed like a hairbrained idea to many. But a year later, Mayor Michael Hancock made the pledge to end all traffic fatalities and serious injuries.
Streetsblog made the case for better public transportation. After the Regional Transportation District raised fares last year, our analysis revealed the prices to be among the highest in the nation. We covered the region’s bus driver shortage, exposing that RTD hires plenty of drivers — nearly 1,000 in the last two years — but most quit. And our interview with transit planner and author Christof Spieler laid out why Denver’s buses and trains are not useful to most people.
Streetsblog covered the city’s slow progress toward building a cohesive network of bike lanes. And our reporting triggered a citywide discussion about the flimsy reasons behind some opposition to bikeways, including last summer when a driver hit and killed Alexis Bounds, a bicyclist and mother of two young children.
It happened on a street where the city had planned to make safety upgrades to a bike lane. Before the fatality, Patsy Brown, who lives on the street, organized a petition against the changes. Immediately after the fatality, Brown maintained her position, telling Streetsblog: “All I care about is preserving the beauty of the parkway.” The quote revealed a selfish and callous attitude that caught the city’s attention. Kyle Clark of 9 News added: “You don’t own the street in front of your home. Our streets belong to everyone. … Arguing for aesthetic appeal while bodies are being peeled off the pavement is a bad look.”
While Streetsblog has a loyal following, we also helped reach a wider audience and shape the city’s mobility conversation through our influence on mainstream local media. Nearly every week, one or more Streetsblog articles likely inspired stories in newspapers and on television stations. We used our daily headlines to call out news organizations when they showed bias against sustainable forms of transportation, used problematic language or failed to include mobility advocates. Recently, we started sharing the Streetsblog point of view through opinion pieces in the Denver Post and Colorado Sun.
The Denver Streets Partnership will now run Streetsblog. Without a full-time journalist, the site will become something different. While this aspect will change, I’m confident its new stewards will ensure that Streetsblog remains informative and engaging. Learn more about their plans here.