Denver Deserves Sidewalks!

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. The Mayor’s office established a Sidewalk Affordability Working Group that is tasked with developing a recommendation on sidewalk policy later this year.

The City Council also allocated $2.5 million in the 2017 budget for the construction of sidewalks along City-owned parks, with work underway as of late May 2017. This is the first time in Denver’s history that public funds have been dedicated to sidewalks and is hopefully a down payment on continuing annual investments in the sidewalk network. Mayor Hancock’s budget for 2018 that was approved by City Council includes a new $4.5 million sidewalk repair program. This funding could help address a major unmet for many Denver neighborhoods – if it’s spent wisely.

Thanks to WalkDenver’s advocacy, the City is making real progress in identifying funding for sidewalks – the GO Bond that Denver residents passed in November includes $47.7 million for new sidewalk construction, and the proposed $4.5 million for sidewalk repairs in the 2018 budget will hopefully be the first year of an ongoing annual program. To get the most bang for it’s buck, now is an excellent time for the City to make some much-needed changes to its sidewalk policies that will govern how this funding is spent, particularly for sidewalk repairs.

WalkDenver has also been eagerly awaiting the release of the most recent Denveright draft plan – now the Denver Moves: Pedestrian & Trails draft is finally here! The public has until December 11 to review the plan and submit feedback. The creation of a Pedestrian & Trails Plan for Denver and City Council’s recent approval of a short-term plan to help residents fix sidewalks are huge steps toward establishing walkability as a priority for the city. The draft plan includes an updated cost estimate of $1.4 billion for building out the sidewalk network, 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.

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.

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.

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.

A fee of $5-$10 per month (for an average property) would provide a sustainable funding source for building new sidewalks, repairing old sidewalks, and upgrading substandard sidewalks throughout Denver.

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.  See media coverage of Denver’s sidewalk problem here.

Thank you to our partners who have provided letters of support:

To add your organization to the list, or for more information, contact WalkDenver’s Policy and Program Director Jill Locantore.