ACTION ALERT: Tell the Mayor and City Council the 2019 Budget still falls short!

by Jessica Vargas on September 19, 2018

Image credit: David Sachs/Streetsblog Denver

Mayor’s Hancock’s proposed budget is a step in the right direction, but still falls short

Last month, residents from across Denver joined with the Denver Streets Partnership and the Denver Vision Zero Coalition to deliver more than 600 petition postcards to Mayor Hancock asking him to invest in safe streets for all. Last week, the Mayor released his proposed budget for 2019, and it includes only about $12 million of the $22 million that advocates recommended for building sidewalks, bike lanes, major safety improvements on Federal Boulevard and quick-hit safety fixes elsewhere.

Now it’s City Council’s turn to review and propose amendments to the Mayor’s draft budget, and the Denver Streets Partnership is continuing to advocate for the level of investment urgently needed to address the alarming number of serious injuries and fatalities happening every week on Denver’s streets. Specifically, we are calling for an additional $5 million for new sidewalk construction along the High Injury Network, and $5 million for safety fixes on Federal.

Tell the Mayor and City Council: The budget still needs work!

The Winners – Yay bikes and complete streets!

The good news is the draft 2019 budget allocates just over $7 million dollars for bike lanes, more than triple the amount in the 2018 budget.  This investment will significantly accelerate the buildout of the full bike network, and support a real increase in the percent of Denver residents who chose to ride bikes on a regular basis. The budget also doubles the City’s previous commitment to Denver B-cycle, helping to sustain and expand Denver’s original bike-share provider.

A small but significant line item in the Mayor’s budget is $500 thousand for developing Complete Streets Guidelines that will help ensure pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders are at the forefront of all decisions about how to design, build, and manage Denver’s streets. Denver residents don’t have to wait for these guidelines to be completed, however, before seeing safety improvements at “hot spots” for bicycle and pedestrian crashes. The Mayor’s budget allocates about $2.5 million for Vision ZeroSafe Routes to School, and Neighborhood Traffic Management projects that could include things like rapid flashing beacons, high-visibility decorative crosswalks, and low-cost traffic calming treatments.

The Losers – Sidewalks and Federal Boulevard are still neglected

Forty percent of Denver’s streets have missing or substandard sidewalks, and the recently released Denver Moves Pedestrians and Trails Plan estimates it will cost more than $1 billion to build out the complete network. The Denver Streets Partnership therefore recommended allocating $10 million for new sidewalks in the 2019 budget, but the Mayor’s proposal allocates only $3 million. At this pace, it will take about 350 years before every neighborhood has the most basic infrastructure that residents need to safely walk to daily destinations.

The biggest miss in the Mayor’s budget is no new funding for safety improvements onFederal Boulevard. Federal is not only Denver’s deadliest street, with a traffic fatality rate 20 times the average for urban streets in Colorado, it’s also an essential transit route and “Main Street” for the 26% of Denver residents who live in neighborhoods along the corridor, many of whom are low-income and people of color. In excusing this lack of investment, the City points to previous commitments from CDOT and other sources for projects such as the widening of Federal between 7th and Holden – a project with questionable safety benefits.

The Bottom Line

We applaud the Mayor for taking some important steps to demonstrate his commitment to people-friendly streets through a faster build out of the bicycle network and adopting a more comprehensive Complete Streets approach. However, the 2019 budget proposal doesn’t meet the overall standard for investment in people-friendly streets because it fails to fund meaningful progress on the lack of sidewalks and doesn’t recognize the immediate, critical need to reconstruct Federal Boulevard.  We sincerely hope that City Council will join us in pushing for an additional $5 million for investments in sidewalks on Denver’s most dangerous streets and $5 million for safety improvements specifically on Federal.

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