Denver Public Works releases Pedestrian Crash Analysis report to supplement the Vision Zero Action Plan

by Jessica Vargas on December 15, 2017

Denver Public Works recently released the Pedestrian Crash Analysis they conducted to support the creation and adoption of the Vision Zero Action Plan and the development of the Denver Moves: Pedestrian and Trails Plan. The report analyzes pedestrian-involved crashes in Denver between 2011 and 2015 with the stated purpose of understanding and reducing these types of crashes.

The project team conducted citywide analyses to identify pedestrian crash trends, better understand why crashes occur, and identify high-crash corridors and intersections to inform the series of Vision Zero maps that outline the High Injury Network and its Priority Segments.

The report, along with the Vision Zero Action Plan Technical Supplement, contains lots of numbers, charts, and graphs so we’ve pulled out a few of the more interesting ones for our readers to take a look at.

Highlights from the Report

When looking at crash characteristics, the analysis revealed a few trends:

  • Age: The age distribution of pedestrians involved in crashes generally follows the overall age distribution of the Denver population. However, when looking specifically at fatalities, the report showed that the 55 to 64 age range represented a higher share of the total number of fatalities (30 percent) than their share of the city’s population (10 percent).
  • Time of Day/Month/Year: Pedestrian-involved crashes were most likely to occur in the second half of the day, particularly the evening rush hour from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Pedestrian crashes occurred most frequently during the months of November, December, and January when there is little to no sunlight in the evening.
  • Speed Limit: Zero fatalities on roadways with speed limits below 25 miles per hour. On roadways with speed limits of 30 miles per hour, the fatality rate was 2 percent. The fatality rate continued to increase with the posted speed limit, ultimately with the highest fatality rate of 8.7 percent occurring on roadways with speed limits of 45 miles per hour.

Most crash reports do not indicate the behavior of either the person walking or driving as a contributing factor. However, among the 19% of crashes with a listed contributing factor, distracted driving, aggressive driving, driver inexperience, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol were the most common contributing factors. Hit-and-run crashes, where one party left the scene, accounted for 25.5% of crashes.

The report also took a close look at where pedestrian-involved crashes occurred:

  • Around half of pedestrian crashes (54 percent) occurred at signalized intersections while 27 percent occurred mid-block.
  • Over a quarter of pedestrian crashes (27 percent of all crashes) occurred within 200 feet of a park or trail, destinations that people commonly walk to.
  • East Colfax Avenue had the most pedestrian crashes of any corridor in the city. Federal Boulevard, Colorado Boulevard, Broadway, Lincoln Street, 20th Street, and Speer Boulevard also had a high prevalence of pedestrian crashes.

 

With a better understanding of pedestrian safety issues through this analysis, Denver Public works also included a Pedestrian Safety Tool Box that contains various countermeasures and tools that can be used to reduce pedestrian crashes and injuries. The toolbox is made up of street design strategies that improve walking conditions, including pedestrian refuge islands, signalized mid-block crossings, and curb extensions. We’ve seen a few of these pop up around the city, such as at the Colfax, Park, and Downing intersection or the new flashing pedestrians signals recently installed (see below!)

The last section of the report was an in-depth analysis of three of the most dangerous corridors for pedestrians: Colfax Avenue, Federal Boulevard, and Colorado Boulevard. All three are designated state highways that experience higher speeds and volumes than the other high-crash corridors. WalkDenver has long advocated for pedestrian improvements along Denver arterials through walk audits of both West Colfax and East Colfax, a pop-up demonstration of a reimagined West Colfax, and a letter to the Mayor to fix deadly Federal Boulevard.

Vision Zero is fundamentally a data-driven policy and the Pedestrian Crash Analysis provides solid evidence and support for making much-needed improvements to Denver’s pedestrian environment. Addressing the most dangerous streets, which are important thoroughfares not only for drivers but also for people walking and taking transit, would go a long way toward creating a safe, walkable, and livable city.

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