Neighbors bring attention to speeding problems along South Tejon Street

by Jessica Vargas on December 7, 2018

Residents of the Valverde and Athmar Park neighborhoods have long known that speeding is a big problem on South Tejon Street. It is a vital corridor for the area, connecting residents to schools, parks, transit, housing, shopping, and the local library. Getting to and from these daily destinations on foot is already a challenge in these neighborhoods due to the two-foot sidewalks, few crosswalks, and dangerous intersections. Along Tejon, the wide roadway often encourages speeding along this neighborhood street well above the posted speed limit of 25 mph. 

Community members have been working to bring attention to this issue in a number of ways. In September, the Athmar Park Active Living Coalition hosted a pop-up traffic calming demonstration on Tejon south of Alameda to explore ways in which the street could be modified to ensure drivers watch their speed and are more aware of people walking and biking. Using cones, painted tires, and planters, the project team (which included WalkDenver) set up temporary curb extensions and a widened pedestrian space for a week to see the effects.

Volunteers who helped with data collection reported drivers seemed to take turns more carefully, were more likely to come to a full stop, and to stop behind the pedestrian crossing area rather than on it. While speeding remained an issue during the demonstration, pedestrians surveyed along the route said they felt much safer with the sidewalk buffers and curb extensions in place.

North of Alameda, a Valverde resident whose children walk to Valverde Elementary on Tejon and Alameda recently brought attention to the issue of speeding by posting his own signs reminding drivers to slow down in the school zone. In addition to the dangerous Alameda intersection that leads to the school, he also says that walking on Tejon to West Bar Val Wood Park is difficult with cars and commercial trucks regularly speeding through. 

In response to these concerns, Denver Public Works is starting to implement some traffic calming measures on Tejon by painting narrower lanes, adding crosswalks, and implementing four-way stops where Tejon crosses Bayaud and Cedar Avenues. Next year, concrete pedestrian refuges and medians will be installed at both these intersections to further signal to drivers to slow down and watch for pedestrians. 

Small changes like these and the ones demonstrated during the Athmar Park pop-up can make a significant difference to pedestrian safety and comfort while encouraging drivers to slow down. While collecting data for the Athmar Park pop-up, drivers were often recorded speeding as much as 10 to 20 miles per hour over the speed limit. During one data collection period on a Sunday morning, 70% of the drivers were recorded traveling over the speed limit. Once the temporary traffic calming measures were implemented the following week at the same location, only 30% of drivers were recorded driving over the speed limit during the same time period. 

Since we know that speeding even 10mph faster can have serious consequences in the event of a crash, implementing traffic calming and speed management techniques is urgently needed. Drivers should not be traveling 40mph down any neighborhood street, especially one where people are walking to school, the bus stop, or their local park. 

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