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Big Year Ahead for Denver’s Vision Zero Program

Public Can Also Play a Big Role in Achieving Zero Traffic Deaths

DENVER – In 2018, Denver’s Vision Zero program accomplished much — from the installation of more than 19 miles of bike lanes, four new pedestrian signal crossings and the hiring of four dedicated Vision Zero staff members, to the number of outreach events that began to educate the community and institutionalize a culture of safety. However, with 59 traffic deaths in 2018, it shows there’s more work to be done.

“One traffic death is too many and safety for all people is our priority,” Denver Public Works Executive Director Eulois Cleckley said. “This year, Denver will continue working with its local, state, and advocacy partners to educate and engage the public about creating safer streets. We’ll also look at opportunities to help reduce speeds, implement enhancements to keep our most vulnerable users safe, and put our money where it matters most – into High Injury Network corridors. Through Denver’s Vision Zero Action Plan, we will continue to be committed to making our streets safer for everyone.”

Enforcement also plays a big role in achieving zero traffic deaths, as officers ensure traffic laws are enforced equitably across modes and communities in Denver, emphasizing education and engagement.

“Traffic deaths and injuries are profoundly harmful to our community, and are preventable,” Denver Chief of Police Paul Pazen said. “In alignment with Vision Zero, eliminating these social harms occurring within our multimodal transportation system is one of the core values of the Denver Police Department’s strategic plan.”

Speeding, driving under the influence, and distracted driving are the top contributors of fatal crashes in Denver. According to Denver’s Vision Zero Action Plan, in 2015, speeding contributed to 53% of fatalities, driving under the influence caused 29% of fatal and injury crashes, and distracted driving contributed to 14% of fatal and injury crashes. We’re all in this together and looking out for each other is an important aspect to achieving zero traffic deaths.

Here’s how the public can help create safer streets:

  • Don’t drink and drive. Utilize rideshare services if you’re under the influence. Drunk driving is consistently the top cause for crashes in Denver year after year.
  • Slow down! If you’re traveling at 30mph and hit a pedestrian, that person has a 40% chance of dying or having a life-altering injury. The percentage goes up to 73% when you’re driving at 40mph.
  • Don’t drive distracted! Almost one of four crashes in Denver involves distracted driving.

With a full staff now dedicated to Denver Vision Zero, below is what the City will focus on in 2019:

Engineering/Capital Investments

  • Make more improvements and investments on High-Injury Network corridors
  • Increase the number of dedicated left turn arrows where current traffic signal equipment will allow
  • Increase the number of leading pedestrian intervals at intersections around Denver to give those walking increased visibility, so they are more established in an intersection
  • Prioritize more locations for pedestrian enhancements such as Rapid Flashing Beacons and pedestrian refuge islands
  • Continue to build out the pedestrian network and the enhanced bikeway network
  • Upgrade street lighting along corridors to improve visibility

Enforcement

  • Prioritize enforcement against dangerous moving violations
  • Convene Rapid Response meetings after pedestrian, motorcycle, and bike fatalities – the team consists of Denver Public Works, Denver Police, partner agencies and community members. They go out to the location to review the crash incident, observe behaviors and conditions, then identify what safety improvements could be made.
  • Work to reduce speeds, which will include completion of a citywide speed limit evaluation, enhanced speed management, and implementation of engineering countermeasures

Education

  • Educate more residents about creating safer streets
  • Partner with students at CU Denver to launch a “Community Voices” project, which will create four videos that promote safe travel behavior and reflect the voices and ideas of our community members
  • Implement Safe Routes to School programs in Greater Park Hill, Montbello, and Southwest Denver

Policy

  • Implement policy changes for right-of-way construction permitting to reduce the impact on those who walk and ride bikes – these changes will aim to increase the use of pedestrian canopies and reduce the total amount of right-of-way closed during a construction project.
  • Continue to institutionalize Vision Zero within City and State processes
  • Develop Complete Street Design Guidelines to ensure city streets prioritize safe and convenient access for those who walk, bike, drive, and take transit.

More About Denver Vision Zero

Denver began laying the groundwork for its Vision Zero program in 2015, and during his 2017 State of the City address, Mayor Michael B. Hancock announced Denver’s commitment to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and serious injuries on the city’s roadways by 2030. Denver’s Vision Zero Action Plan aims to achieve that goal, laying out nearly 70 specific actions to save lives and create safer streets through engineering, enforcement, education, and engagement. For more information, please visit denvergov.org/visionzero