Street safety means keeping heads up

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5/9/2013  RssIcon

Two young boys were struck by a car while crossing a residential street and this cowardly individual has not yet turned himself or herself in. These children, who had so much life ahead of them, had their lives unjustifiably stolen from them.

This tragedy is only one in a series of pedestrian accidents that have taken place across Denver this year. Since the beginning of 2013, we’ve seen 117 auto/pedestrian accidents. And pedestrians aren’t the only ones who share Denver’s transportation system. In 2012, there were 265 auto/bike accidents across Denver that resulted in injuries or death.

To say this loss of life, destruction to our families and injury to our people is unnecessary would be an understatement. This is not the Denver that you and I know and love.

We are an outdoorsy, active people who enjoy taking advantage of our 300-plus days of sunshine every year by biking to work and school, walking around our safe neighborhoods and driving up to our mountains. Recently voted the second-safest feeling American city in a Gallup poll, it’s taken all of us — in every neighborhood — to build this culture.

But at the same time, Denver is a growing city, and that means every day we have more people walking, biking and driving on our streets. We must embrace the use of our city’s diverse modes of transportation and respect the people using them in order to protect our culture of safety and to protect the quality of life we all enjoy.

At the City and County of Denver, we are taking a three-pronged approach to consistently improving transit safety: engineering, enforcement and education.

We work to engineer safer roads with appropriate signage, lights, lanes and more by studying the traffic flow at intersections in every neighborhood. Our safety officials work to enforce our laws with walkers, bikers and drivers alike by warning and ticketing bad behavior. And we continuously work to sharpen these efforts.

The city cannot create a safe, multimodal culture alone though. It requires each and every person who lives, works and plays in Denver to take personal responsibility for their safety while in transit. It requires being aware of those who are travelling next to you, whether that is on foot, a bike or in a car.

That is why transportation, safety and school officials stood with me to launch the Heads Up public safety awareness campaign.

We came together to ask our entire community to join us in creating a culture that embraces multimodal transportation safety. We think pairing this education effort with the city’s engineering and enforcement efforts could be the ticket to improving safety and decreasing the unnecessary loss of life.

I ask you to join us in keeping your head up when walking, biking or driving. Set an example, embrace a safe multimodal culture and I believe we will see a new, safer day in Denver.

Join us from 9-11 a.m. this Saturday, May 11 at our quarterly Cabinet in the Community meeting to learn more about how you can spread the word about keeping our “Heads Up.”

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