Announcing the Vision Zero Community Program!

by Jessica Vargas on October 4, 2018

Denver launches Vision Zero Community Program to promote safer streets

WalkDenver is excited to announce the launch of the new Vision Zero Community Program! We are partnering with the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) and Denver Public Works on this innovative program that will give teams of community members an opportunity to design a project to increase awareness of Vision Zero and promote safer streets in their neighborhoods.

As the leading organization of the Denver Vision Zero Coalition, we have been working to engage people around issues of traffic safety through initiatives like our Safe Speeds for Denver campaign, various community art projects, and the recent traffic calming pop-ups in Athmar Park and Capitol Hill. Communities throughout Denver have expressed growing concern about traffic safety. The new program offers residents the opportunity to have their voices heard about how safety on public streets can be improved. 

Community members interested in designing a project can fill out the online application form that will be reviewed by the City and WalkDenver. A downloadable PDF version of the application is available here to help you prepare your application but all applications must be officially submitted through the online form. Each project requires a minimum of three applicants who will serve as team members (at least one must be a resident of the community). The boundaries of what constitutes the “community” served by a Vision Zero project can be determined by a variety of factors, including City designations, official Neighborhoods, travel routes or intersections, parks and recreation centers, schools or public transit stops.

Potential project types can be large or small and can include such elements as temporary or demonstrative displays, the identification of safe routes, community meetings, public art, photography-based storytelling, data collection, surveys and educational materials. Applicants should strive to convey the potential impact of their proposed project, as well as how community support will be attained and fostered. 

Applications are due online December 1, 2018, and teams will be notified of acceptance by December 17, 2018. Projects are scheduled to begin January 2019, and all project implementation is to be completed by July 28, 2019. If you are interested in hosting an info session or workshop for your community or you would like to discuss your ideas with program staff, contact Michele Shimomura at

If you need some inspiration, here are some ideas for your Vision Zero Community Project!

If you’d like to apply for the program but aren’t sure what kind of project you’d like to bring to your neighborhood, here are some ideas to get you started!

Tactical Urbanism

Tactical urbanism is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of low-cost, temporary changes to the built environment intended to improve traffic safety and enhance our public places. Read more about recent tactical urbanism projects in Athmar Park and Capitol Hill for more ideas. 

Crosswalks: Colorful crosswalks can both signal to drivers to be on the lookout for pedestrians and provide an opportunity to celebrate community identity. They can be done temporarily using spray chalk or more permanently using street grade paint.

Temporary Curb Extensions: Also known as bulbouts, curb extensions can provide greater visibility for anyone trying to cross the street as well as encourage drivers to take turns more carefully. They can be demonstrated simply using cones or you can get creative and use painted tires, plants, or beach balls!

Pop-Up Parklet: Parklets are public seating platforms that convert curbside parking spaces into vibrant community spaces. Most have a distinctive design that incorporates seating, greenery, and/or bike racks and accommodate unmet demand for public space on thriving neighborhood retail streets or commercial areas.

Pop-Up Protected Bike Lane: These types of lanes use barriers to dedicate and protect space for bicyclists in order to improve perceived comfort and safety. Protected bike lanes are more attractive for bicyclists of all levels and ages.

Play Streets: A Play Street is a city street temporarily closed to traffic to provide a safe place for children, their families, and neighbors to come together and play outside. Play Streets are fun events that build local community and make use of public space in areas where parks may be limited. These projects are gaining popularity around the country in cities like SeattleSan FranciscoNew YorkChicago, and Los Angeles.

Clockwise, from top left: Temporary crosswalk using spray chalk; temporary curb extension using cones and painted tires; pop-up protected bike lane using paint, cones, planters, and signage; pop-up parklet using lawn furniture

Safe Routes

Safe Routes programs aim to make it safer for community members to walk and bike to local destinations and encourage more walking and biking where safety is not a barrier. Although traditionally focused on schools, a Safe Routes project is a great way to focus on safe transportation options to and from any specific community destination in your neighborhood, such as a school, library, park, recreation center, community center, or transit stop.

Neighborhood Safe Route: You can work with community members to identify a route or loop that connects important destinations within the neighborhood that are walkable or bikeable to encourage residents to explore the area on foot or bike. This is also a good opportunity for data collection (such as walk and bike counts, vehicle speeds, etc) that can help build support for more permanent safety improvements. 

Walking School Bus, Bike Train, or Scooter Crew: A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. It can be as informal as two families taking turns walking their children to school to as structured as a route with meeting points, a timetable and a regularly rotated schedule of trained volunteers. A variation on the walking school bus is the bicycle train or scooter crew, in which adults supervise children riding their bikes and/or scooters to school.

Walk/Bike Safety and Skills Clinic: You can also organize a pedestrian and bicycle skills clinic (also called a bike rodeo) at a local school, library, or recreation center. You can also pair this with a bicycle repair event and enlist the help of a local bike shop to repair broken chains, tighten brakes, fix flat tires, etc.


A Photovoice program is an opportunity for community members to have their voices heard through photography by documenting their experiences in their neighborhoods. A Photovoice project can highlight stories that show: What makes you feel safe or happy while traveling through your community? What makes you feel unsafe when traveling through your community? This is an opportunity for people to show what they love about their neighborhood as well as highlight how it could be improved. Earlier this year, the Vision Zero Federal Boulevard Photovoice Project was hosted in the spring of 2018 by the City & County of Denver in partnership with the University of Denver and WalkDenver.

Public Art

Public art projects can bring communities together to create art installations that raise awareness of traffic safety and Denver’s commitment to end traffic fatalities and serious injuries as a Vision Zero city. This artwork supports a dialogue among residents, city officials, advocacy groups, and artists about the community’s values, and how our neighborhoods and streets are designed to reflect those values. Check out these examples:

Intersection murals: The Denver Community Active Living Coalition (CALC) organized the installation of murals painted at intersections near schools in Athmar Park and Sunnyside, highlighting aspects of the communities’ culture. The murals were designed in partnership with residents, students, and local artists. 

Artistic wayfinding projects: The Denver CALC also organized a wayfinding project for the Weir Gulch Trail to help people find their way along the disconnected trail path and access local destinations. Large decals with a map depicting the trail and local destinations were installed at key locations along the trail and connected with “breadcrumbs” on the sidewalk for people to follow. 

Utility box decorations: The Colfax Avenue Community Art Projects are a community effort led by WalkDenver in partnership with community members along Colfax Ave. As part of this initiative, several utility boxes along the corridor were decorated with Vision Zero messages and featured stories of people affected by traffic crashes while walking or biking.


Have you thought of a project not listed here? This is by no means an exhaustive list so this is your opportunity to get creative! We’d love to hear your ideas.

Applications for the program are due December 1 so now is the time to start brainstorming with your neighbors! For additional project guidelines and requirements, visit the Vision Zero Community Program info page. If you have any questions about the program or would like to discuss your ideas, please contact program leader Michele Shimomura to get the process started.

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