Pedestrian & Trails draft plan now available for public comment!

by Jessica Vargas on November 30, 2017

WalkDenver has 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. Since the planning process for this plan began in the spring of last year, WalkDenver has been closely following its development. Here are a few of our thoughts on the latest draft of the plan:

Sidewalks

Prior to this planning process, the City did not have comprehensive data on the existing sidewalk network. The plan does a great job of inventorying current sidewalk locations and widths, and establishing criteria for prioritizing new sidewalk construction and upgrades. However, the plan stops short of setting out a target timeline with specific milestones for building out the network – ideally something sooner than the 440 years the plan estimates it will take to build out the network at the current funding rate of $2.5 million per year! Establishing a larger, dedicated funding source will be essential for completing the estimated $1 billion worth of sidewalk construction and repairs needed throughout the city in a timely manner.

Crossings

The lack of safe crossings, particularly along major arterial and collector streets, can greatly diminish the walkability of an area even with a good sidewalk network. To address this issue, the plan establishes a proactive approach to identifying new crossing locations based on safety considerations, rather than only relying on citizen requests as the City has done in the past. The plan should also establish the ideal maximum distance between safe pedestrian crossings in different contexts, using criteria such as pedestrian demand, transit access (particularly related to bus stops on arterial streets where there should be a crossing at every bus stop location), high priority destinations, and equity.

Policies & Programs

The plan recognizes that a range of policies and programs will be necessary if the City is to achieve the vision set forth in this document. Maintenance of existing and future sidewalks will be crucial to Denver’s long-term walkability goals. Current City policy places the responsibility of sidewalk maintenance on property owners, resulting in the existing patchwork sidewalk system of varying quality. The plan should recommend exploring the possibility of publicly funding the full cost of sidewalk repairs, not just subsidizing the cost for low-income property owners.

Final Thoughts

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. However, it is WalkDenver’s opinion that the plan should aim higher than just building out sidewalks and crossings, and establish goals for increasing pedestrian mode share and pedestrian level of service. While there is no denying that basic walking infrastructure is sorely needed in our city, it is disappointing that the plan focuses so narrowly on sidewalks and crossings while saying almost nothing about elements such as trees and landscaping, street furniture, lighting, traffic calming, wayfinding, art, pedestrian access to buildings, or other factors that contribute to a truly great pedestrian environment.

Read the Draft and submit your feedback!

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