Managing Denver’s Street Space: Putting People First

by Jessica Vargas on September 6, 2018

Denver Streets Partnership releases principles for managing Denver’s street space to promote both transportation choice and safety

Since the recent success of the Safe Streets for All and It’s Time to Fix Federal Boulevard campaigns, the Denver Streets Partnership (DSP) has continued to advocate for improving mobility options and transportation safety on public streets. With the emergence and popularity of dockless scooters and bicycles in Denver, it is clear that residents, workers, and visitors want to take advantage of more active and sustainable modes of transportation. In order to make sure everyone gets around safely and efficiently, however, the City needs to take a much closer look at how the existing street space is managed. For example, pretty much everyone agrees that Denver’s current policy requiring scooters to ride on the sidewalk doesn’t make much sense.

The DSP believes that three basic principles should guide the management of Denver’s street space:

  1. Establish clear priorities for the public right-of-way that put people first.
  2. Separate travel by speed.
  3. Encourage marketplace innovation while capturing value created by public spaces.

People using the safest and most space-efficient modes of transportation – including walking, transit, biking, and other “small vehicles” that are about the same size and speed as bicycles (e.g., scooters) – should be able to move in spaces that are designed for them and are designated for the speed at which they are traveling. As we’ve learned over the last month since dockless scooters and bikes were introduced, Denver’s streets currently don’t allocate nearly enough space to accommodate the number of people who want to use these modes. Instead, the majority of the space is dedicated to cars, which are the most dangerous, least space-efficient way of getting around.

Private companies who are generating a profit from using Denver’s street space (such as the dockless scooter companies) can help address this need for redesigning streets by contributing their fair share to help cover the cost of building, maintaining, and managing the public right-of-way. By ensuring people – not any particular vehicle – are the foremost consideration in our thinking about public space, Denver will be better able to provide a safe and efficient transportation system that works for all users. The entire statement is available to read online.

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