Safe Speeds for Denver

Speed Management Projects in Denver

Since the success of our 2017 Safe Speeds for Denver petition and the City’s adoption of the Vision Zero Action Plan, Denver Public Works has begun implementing a number of quick and inexpensive street design changes at locations all over the city. These traffic calming measures are intended to slow vehicle speeds and make it safer to walk and bike. As more of these projects are installed and evaluated, WalkDenver hopes to see many more such treatments all over the City as a way to quickly respond to neighborhood concerns about speeding and improve safety for all street users. Here are the speed management projects that have been implemented to date:

Paint and Bollards at Colfax/Park/Franklin Intersection. The five-way intersection at Colfax Avenue, Park Avenue, and Franklin Street in the Cheesman Park and City Park neighborhoods has long been been a challenging place to navigate for people on foot or bike, particularly for those with mobility challenges. With bus stops, a bike route, popular businesses, local services, health facilities and a senior living community located at or near this intersection, the area experiences a high volume of pedestrian and bicycle activity in addition the large numbers of cars that pass through. Using paint and plastic bollards, Denver Public Works was able to create a pedestrian island for people to wait if they can’t make it across the wide street in time and curb extensions to slow down vehicles turning into a crosswalk and shorten crossing distances. Read more about this project at Streetsblog Denver.

Image credit: David Sachs/Streetsblog Denver

Flashing Pedestrian Signals in Five Points, Sloan’s Lake, Regis, Congress Park, Stapleton, Hilltop. In May 2017, Denver Public Works installed the city’s first “rapid flashing beacons” at the intersection of Downing Street at 30th Avenue in Five Points. These flashing signs are activated by pedestrians at the push of a button, signaling to drivers that a pedestrian will be in the crosswalk that does not have a stop sign or light. By the end of 2017, five more intersections had received similar treatments that have been proven to increase the rate at which drivers yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. The beacons were installed at uncontrolled crossing locations with higher pedestrian volumes, including the 30th & Downing light rail station, Regis University, Denver Botanic Gardens, Montessori Children’s House of Denver, an assisted living facility, and a commercial shopping center.  Read more about these projects at Streetsblog Denver.

Image credit: David Sachs/Streetsblog Denver

Pedestrian Islands on 26th Avenue. For Sloan’s Lake neighborhood residents who live north of 26th Avenue, walking to Sloan’s Lake Park and Brown Elementary School involved crossing 26th at locations without stop signs or lights. Tennyson Street and King Street are two popular crossing locations for people walking and biking. Tennyson has a painted crosswalk to cross 26th but no stop signs for cars traveling along 26th. The next nearest marked crosswalk or signalized intersection is a half-mile in either direction. King connects directly to the Brown Elementary School playground and community garden.

Denver Public Works installed pedestrian islands at both locations using bright yellow bollards and yield signs that narrow the travel lanes and alert drivers to slow down, yield, and take turns more carefully. Each intersection cost just $6,000 to remake and could lead to more permanent changes. For now, this treatment allows DPW to quickly implement and test the design before deciding what more permanent islands would look like and cost. Read more about this project at Streetsblog Denver.

Curb Extensions and Lane Removal on Buchtel Boulevard.  In June 2018, Denver Public Works added new treatments to Buchtel Boulevard to reduce speeding, improve sight distances for merging traffic, and shorten pedestrian crossing distance. The improvements included removing one lane on Buchtel between the I-25 off-ramp and on-ramp in order to reduce speeds as cars merge onto the highway. A stop sign for traffic on Buchtel was added before the I-25 off-ramp to reduce speeds and ensure drivers pay better attention to oncoming traffic. Another improvement was the addition of  painted pedestrian bulb-outs at the intersections with Washington, Louisiana, and Emerson to increase the visibility of pedestrians and shorten crossing distances.

Traffic Circles on 35th Avenue. Denver Public Works recently installed the City’s first ever traffic circles along in the West Highlands neighborhood using rubber curbing and paint. They are located along 35th Avenue at the intersections with Newton, Julian, and Raleigh Streets. Like the pedestrian islands on 26th Ave, the new treatments are intended as interim measures using temporary materials to test out the design and its affects on speeding and safety.

West 35th Ave is designated as a future neighborhood bikeway in the citywide Denver Moves bicycle master plan. Neighborhood bikeways could include street design elements that reinforce safe speeds – such as traffic circles, curb extensions, and pedestrian islands – and make the street safer not just for cyclists but also for people walking and rolling. The cheaper, easier-to-install materials used for this project (each traffic circle costs about $11,000) would make it possible for DPW to deploy more of these treatments in areas throughout the city, respond more quickly to neighborhood concerns about speeding, and adjust the design if necessary. Read more about the project at Streetsblog Denver.

Image credit: David Sachs/Streetsblog Denver

2017 Safe Speeds for Denver Petition

Thank you to everyone who signed our petition to Mayor Hancock! We received close to 1,000 signatures in support of Safe Speeds for Denver.

High speed traffic kills. High speed traffic makes our streets less pleasant for people walking and biking. Decades of research have found that drivers traveling at higher speeds are less likely to see someone walking or biking, are less likely to yield, have less time to stop, and if a crash occurs, it is much more likely to be fatal.

Speed Kills

Source: FHWA Pedestrian Safety Strategic Plan: Background Report, 2010.

Each year in Denver, more than 40 people are killed in traffic crashes and more than 1,900 are injured. Despite being involved in only four percent of the crashes, one third of the traffic deaths are people walking and biking. (Source: City and County of Denver Vision Zero Crash Dashboard, data from January 2012 – December 2015.)

In 2017, the Denver Vision Zero Coalition called upon the City and County of Denver to take the following actions to address the inherent dangers of unsafe speeds:

  • Commit to implementing an annual program that funds safe speed projects throughout the City, starting with the 2018 budget.
  • Test the effectiveness of various street design treatments for safe vehicle speeds through demonstration projects on residential, main street and mixed use streets (two or more of each), implemented in 2017.
  • Adopt formal guidelines in 2018 to guide safe speeds on streets throughout the City, based on the outcomes of the demonstration projects.

Thank you to our partners who provided letters of support: