Denver Deserves Sidewalks!

As Denver’s population grows, the City must provide the basic infrastructure that allows people to safely and easily get around. Walkable neighborhoods with good sidewalks are the foundation of a complete transportation system that offers practical options including transit, walking, biking, car share, ride share, bike share, and driving a personal vehicle. Good sidewalks are particularly important for the one-third of the population that doesn’t drive due to age, disability, or income.

The Problem

Currently Denver property owners are responsible for building and maintaining sidewalks adjacent to their property.  Sidewalk repairs can cost a property owner thousands of dollars. Lax enforcement of the current sidewalk policy means that many Denver neighborhoods have substandard or no sidewalks at all.

The Campaign

In late 2015, WalkDenver launched the Denver Deserves Sidewalks campaign and collected almost 3,000 signatures that called on the City to assume responsibility for building and repairing sidewalks, and to establish a dedicated funding source for this purpose. In response to the campaign, City Council established a Sidewalk Working Group that is currently considering changes to the City’s sidewalk policy.

Denver Deserves Sidewalks FAQ

En Español: Denver Merece Aceras Preguntas Frecuentes 

The campaign has also garnered significant media coverage, including a front page article in the Denver Post, and a Denver Post Editorial calling upon the City to make sidewalks a priority. WalkDenver is continuing to engage grassroots supporters of the campaign to communicate to Denver City Council and the Mayor widespread community support for changing the City’s sidewalk policy, and to encourage City officials to take swift action.

WalkDenver In the Media

Read more about WalkDenver’s recommendations regarding Denver’s sidewalk policy [PDF], and our research on funding solutions for First and Last Mile Connections to transit.

Successes to Date

In 2017, the City Budget allocated $2.5 million for the construction of sidewalks along City-owned property, the first time in Denver’s history that public funds have been dedicated specifically to sidewalks. The City’s 2018 Budget includes an additional $1.5 million for this purpose, plus $4.5 million for a new sidewalk inspection and repair program. Through this program, which marks a much more proactive approach to sidewalk repairs, the City will still hold adjacent property owners responsible for the cost of repairs, but will offer subsidies to low-income homeowners. In addition to funding in the annual Budget, the GO Bond that Denver residents passed in November includes $47.7 million for new sidewalk construction over the next 10 years. 

Read WalkDenver’s analysis of the GO Bond

Remaining Challenges

The City’s draft Denver Moves: Pedestrian & Trails Plan estimates the full cost of building out the sidewalk network is $1.4 billion, including construction of sidewalks where they are missing and retrofitting substandard sidewalks. The plan also establishes six priority tiers that will help guide the sidewalk funding and construction processes.

While the funding allocated to sidewalks to date will help jumpstart this buildout, significantly more resources are needed to complete the network so that every neighborhood has the basic infrastructure people need to walk. Furthermore, current funding can only be used to build sidewalks where they are missing, which is the case on 10% of Denver’s streets. An additional 30% of streets have substandard sidewalks that are too narrow for a person in a wheelchair, or for a parent with a stroller. WalkDenver is continuing to advocate as a member of the Denver Streets Partnership for the level of funding needed to build out a complete sidewalk network in a timely manner.

Thank you to our partners who provided letters of support for our Denver Deserves Sidewalks Campaign.

If you would like more information about the Denver Deserves Sidewalks campaign, please contact Jill Locantore.