Denver’s new Vision Zero Action Plan lays out strategies to achieve zero traffic deaths on city streets by 2030


Read the Action Plan and submit feedback!

Last week, the City and County of Denver reinforced their commitment to achieving zero traffic deaths by releasing a draft version of their Vision Zero Action Plan. The plan identifies steps, actions, and timelines for the next five years that will put Denver on the path toward making Vision Zero a reality. Since the Mayor publicly committed to ending preventable traffic crashes resulting in death or serious injury in February 2016, the City has worked closely with the Vision Zero Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and other partners to devise the core principles, strategies, and action recommendations found in the plan. WalkDenver Executive Director Gosia Kung and Associate Director Jill Locantore both served on the Technical Advisory Committee as representatives of the Denver Vision Zero Coalition, a group of community organizations in Denver that formed in January 2016 to support the City’s adoption of Vision Zero.

As a leader in championing Vision Zero in Denver, the Coalition was invited to participate in the Vision Zero TAC, giving input and recommendations based on their Core Principles. The five foundational steps of the Action Plan that will serve as the basis for all Vision Zero decisions made moving forward were clearly informed by these principles. The emphasis on prioritizing human life and safety over vehicle speed, designing safe streets over trying to influence individual behavior, and making transparent, data-driven decisions are all themes found in the Coalition’s Core Principles that made their way into the Action Plan.

The entire plan is available online at the City’s website. You can submit your comments and feedback on the draft plan online until August 11. There is also a map-based survey that allows you to pinpoint the places in Denver that concern you or the places that you think are great for transportation and safety. All of this feedback will inform the final version of the Action Plan and we are encouraged by how receptive the City has been to incorporating input from advocates and community members into the plan so far. We’ve outlined some of the highlights of the plan below that align with the work WalkDenver has been doing recently to make Denver a safer, healthier, and more accessible city for people walking, biking, and using transit.

Highlights from the Vision Zero Action Plan

Enhance City Processes and Collaboration

The plan calls for greater collaboration between City departments, outside agencies, advocacy organizations, and community partners to implement Vision Zero policies and practices. Over the past year, the Denver Vision Zero Coalition has participated in rapid response meetings held with Denver Public Works, Denver Environmental Health, and the Denver Police Department at the locations of fatal traffic crashes. The purpose of these meetings is to observe the street conditions, recommend safety improvements, and, as the plan points out, develop a strategy that ensures the rapid response meetings become an implementation tool for Vision Zero.

Build Safe Streets for Everyone

This section of the plan focuses on the design of city streets, emphasizing that a safe transportation system and street network are designed to protect all street users. In particular, the plan recognizes that safety improvements should be implemented along the most dangerous streets in Denver, identified in the plan as the High Injury Network (HIN). These streets make up just 5% of Denver’s entire street network but account for half of the traffic deaths that occur in the city.

These HIN corridors often have missing or substandard sidewalks and crosswalks. The plan’s safety improvement recommendations include building out the pedestrian network as identified in the Denver Moves: Pedestrians and Trails Plan. The plan even lays out a target for new sidewalk construction for the next five years: 14 miles of sidewalk every year for the next two years and 20 miles of sidewalk per year for three years after that.

Create Safe Speeds

Since its inception, the Denver Vision Zero Coalition has consistently pointed out that high speed traffic kills. Decades of research have found that drivers traveling at higher speeds are less likely to see someone walking or biking, are less likely to yield, have less time to stop, and if a crash occurs, it is much more likely to be fatal. This is why the Coalition launched the Safe Speeds for Denver campaign and it is encouraging to see this message highlighted in the Action Plan along with a commitment to developing a speed management plan for our streets.

Promote a Culture of Safety

Public education around traffic safety is a crucial component to the success of Vision Zero. One of the stated action items within the Action Plan involves creating a culture of safety from a young age by coordinating with ongoing Safe Routes to School efforts taking place in Denver. WalkDenver has been partnering with the Department of Environmental Health and 10 DPS schools over the last year to create travel plans that encourage safe, healthy, and active modes of transportation to school.

Improve Data and Be Transparent

Making data-driven decisions related to Vision Zero is key to holding decision makers accountable as well ensuring a more equitable implementation of the policy. Using tools such as speed data collection, automated enforcement technology, and consistent reporting of crash data and project evaluation results will enable the ultimate success of Vision Zero efforts all over the city.

Check out the following videos about WalkDenver’s tactical urbanism projects:

Reimagine West Colfax

Bee JP (Great Paths: The Boulevard at Jefferson Park)

Better Block Five Points

Better Block Jefferson Park

Slow City: One Day in Denver was a collaborative project led by our partners at Walk2Connect. On April 26, 2014, 27 people walked 13.5 miles across the city of Denver in search of experiences that fuel the yearning for a slow city. A slow city where people get out of their cars and connect with the delightful and gritty nuances that make Denver home. And, where people travel at a speed where they can connect with their environment and one another.

Our project was part of the larger One Day in Denver city-wide, participatory media event. The resulting media will be showcased in an interactive geo-tagged archive and a TV series on the future of the American city.