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Denver Moves: Pedestrians

To develop and support a fully connected multi-modal transportation network, the city regularly studies and reviews current and future needs to set priorities and allocate resources. These planning projects reflect the dynamic conditions in Denver today and help us serve residents in the short and long term.

Denver Moves: Pedestrians & Trails

Denver Moves: Pedestrians & Trails is a long-term, community- developed plan for achieving a vision for walking and trails in Denver. This plan was developed through the Denveright process and was coordinated with other relevant already-established and developing plans. Significant effort was made through Denver Moves: Pedestrians & Trails’ development to ensure a high degree of integration between the pedestrian, bicycle, trails and transit networks.

Denver Moves: Pedestrians & Trails identifies priorities for projects, policies and programs so that elements of the community-developed vision can be achieved as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Executive Summary

For pedestrians, Denver Moves: Pedestrians & Trails identifies a Complete Network of new sidewalks, widening of existing sidewalks, at-grade crossings of streets and grade-separated crossings of major barriers such as freeways, railroads and rivers. Many design treatments contribute to a highly walkable environment, including geometric treatments, traffic signal treatments and streetscape treatments. Denver Moves: Pedestrians & Trails focuses on the most essential elements of a transportation system for people walking. This plan identifies the overall cost for each of these elements, along with implementation priorities.

The total cost of each of these elements is:

  • To complete missing sidewalks – approximately $273 million
  • To widen existing sidewalks that are too narrow – approximately $828 million
  • At-grade crossing improvements (crosswalks, beacons, signals, etc.) – approximately $80 million
  • Grade-separated crossing improvements – approximately $139 million

For trails, Denver Moves: Pedestrians & Trails identifies a Complete Network of new paved trails, new singletrack trails, widening of existing trails and new and upgraded trail connections and street crossings. New and widened trails are proposed according to new trail design guidelines; these guidelines are based on national best practices and can later be adopted as standards.

The total cost of each of these elements is:

  • To complete new paved trails – approximately $20 million
  • To complete high-priority connections and crossings – approximately $110 million
  • To complete new singletrack trails and widen existing trails – approximately $225 million
  • To complete later-priority connections and crossings - $45 million

Although these costs are high, having an understanding of the total cost is critical for the city to identify annual funding levels to achieve the community’s vision for a walkable Denver and for a world-class trails system.

The city will use these plans to identify new capital-funded projects, grant funding opportunities and, in some cases, General Obligation Bond projects.

Both the pedestrians and trails elements include a variety of other useful elements and recommendations, such as planning tools, design guidelines and policy and program action plans.

Denver Moves: Pedestrians & Trails includes separate pedestrian and trails elements. Although these elements are described separately, efforts were made through their development to ensure their integration with each other and with Denver Moves: Bicycles and Denver Moves: Transit.

In addition to identifying projects, policies and programs for pedestrians and for trails, Denver Moves: Pedestrians & Trails includes several components that can stand alone but serve as a critical building block to this plan:

Pedestrian Priority Areas – these are being defined by Blueprint Denver and represent areas where land use, built environment and demographic factors contribute to high levels of walking. They inform how a street’s design and operations should differ to serve high levels of walking.

Pedestrian Demand Index – this is an approximation of pedestrian demand that the city can use to inform regular prioritization of pedestrian infrastructure, including for annual budgeting. The Pedestrian Demand Index is more detailed than Pedestrian Priority Areas in regards to how pedestrian demand levels vary throughout the city.

Sidewalk types – sidewalk types address how sidewalks should be designed when meeting the city’s standards is not feasible or when planning or designing in Pedestrian Priority Areas. Future changes to the city’s design standards, rules and regulations or policies can incorporate these sidewalk types.

Trail design guidelines – the Parks & Recreation Department will strive to achieve these design guidelines through new trail construction and trail retrofits; upon approval by the Parks & Recreation Department these can become trail design standards.

A policy and program action plan for pedestrians and trails – City policies or programs have a significant effect on walkability and trail infrastructure; refinements to these policies and programs ensures that they promote this plan’s vision. Changes to these policies and programs are beyond the scope of this plan so an action plan is provided so these changes can happen over time.

Conceptual designs of high-priority trail projects – the Parks & Recreation Department will use these conceptual designs to program projects into future budgets and as a starting point for high-priority project designs.

Key messages for a future education and outreach.

Recommendations for how to monitor progress for both pedestrians and trails.

Recommendations for how to integrate this plan into the Neighborhood Planning Initiative.

Denver Moves: Pedestrians and Trails contains goals for the Denver’s pedestrian environment that came from the public outreach process. Each goal contains a performance measure, which helps Denver account for its progress as it works towards creating a world class pedestrian city.

The plan identified six goals derived from community input. Each goal includes a performance measure so that the goals and measurable and so that progress can be tracked over time. 

Goal 1: Accessibility 

  • A pedestrian system with a complete network of well-maintained, ADA-compliant sidewalks, walkways and crossings for users of all abilities. 
  • Sidewalk completion (≥4 feet) throughout the city. 

Goal 2: Connectivity 

  • A complete sidewalk network without gaps and with frequent pedestrian crossings across barriers. 
  • Frequent crossings of arterials and major barriers including highways, rivers and railroads. 

Goal 3: Destination Access 

  • A complete pedestrian network with sidewalks and crossings that are up to standards and provide direct access to key destinations: transit, grocery stores, parks, schools, and health care centers. 
  • Sidewalk completion (≥4 feet) within ¼ mile from bus stops and bike share stations and ½ mile from rail stations, parks, grocery stores, schools and health care centers. 

Goal 4: Equity 

  • A complete pedestrian network with sidewalks and crossings up to standards and without gaps within low-income areas. 
  • Sidewalk completion (≥4 feet) in census tracts where at least 20 percent of the population is below the Colorado state poverty level. 

Goal 5: Health 

  • A complete pedestrian network with sidewalks and crossings up to standards and without gaps within areas of health concern. 
  • Sidewalk completion (≥4 feet) in areas with high child obesity rates. 

Goal 6: Safety 

  • A safe network of pedestrian facilities that enables walking as a comfortable transportation mode and designed to reduce or eliminate crashes involving pedestrians. 

The Denver Moves: Pedestrians and Trails includes visionary planning tools that help the City better understand where to invest in new sidewalk or crossing projects. The plan discusses “pedestrian priority areas” and the “pedestrian demand index” which will guide Denver to prioritize pedestrian comfort, safety, and mobility.

How wide does a sidewalk need to be? How will I know if the sidewalk I’m walking on doesn’t meet the city standards? Denver Moves: Pedestrians and Trails  discusses the typical requirements of city sidewalks, and other factors that contribute to a comfortable walking environment.

Where will new sidewalks be built? Which sidewalks will be built first? Denver Moves: Pedestrians and Trails lays out the citywide prioritization for the construction of new sidewalks.

The city will prioritize construction of new sidewalks that connect to high frequency transit, parks, schools, and grocery stores.

Missing sidewalks along the Vision Zero High Injury Network will also be prioritized, as identified in Denver’s Vision Zero Action Plan.

Pedestrians not only need safe sidewalks, they also need safe accommodations for crossing the street. Denver Moves: Pedestrians and Trails identifies on-street and off-street crossing projects that once constructed, will foster pedestrian safety, comfort, and mobility.

Beyond safe crossings and sidewalks, what are the other tools available to Denver that will help pedestrians walk when and where they want to? Denver Moves: Pedestrians and Trails identifies other critical tools that Denver will use to improve the comfort and safety of pedestrians throughout the city.

Beyond construction, there are other action items the city will take in support of the Mayor’s Mobility Action Plan to increase walking in Denver. Denver Moves: Pedestrians and Trails identifies and prioritizes action items for City Staff to pursue in conjunction with the construction of new infrastructure.