The need to fund transit, walking, and biking improvements is greater than ever

by Jessica Vargas on May 14, 2019

Monday, April 22, marked an important milestone in Denver, when City Council adopted the new Blueprint Denver plan and brought the three-year Denveright planning process to a close. The new suite of plans that also includes Denver Moves Pedestrians & Trails, Denver Moves Transit, the Denver Game Plan and the Vision Zero Action Plan establishes a bold vision for the future of our city where neighborhoods are connected by complete walking, biking, and transit networks, no one dies in traffic crashes, and people walking are prioritized on every street.

Denver’s most familiar arterials – Colfax, Federal, Alameda, Broadway, Colorado, etc., – are highlighted across the various plans as places prioritized for enhanced pedestrian facilities; high capacity, very frequent transit; and higher-density, mixed-use development. These corridors are also part of Denver’s High Injury Network – the 5% of streets where 50% of traffic fatalities occur – and pass through “Communities of Concern” with low income levels and high concentrations of seniors and people with disabilities. 

This disconnect between what’s envisioned for these streets (such as the image from Blueprint Denver above) and the current reality (such as the picture of Federal Boulevard below) underscores the need for Denver to invest heavily in transforming these streets into truly multi-modal, people friendly places.

WalkDenver and our fellow members of the Denver Streets Partnership therefore recently submitted a letter to Mayor Hancock [PDF] with recommendations for funding walking, biking, and transit in the City’s 2020 Annual Budget, as well as the 6-Year Capital Improvement Plan that the City uses as a guide when seeking additional funding for transportation projects. Highlights of our recommendations include:

  • $4 M in 2020 for quick and inexpensive treatments that will improve transit speed and reliability, such as using red paint to dedicate transit lanes, and bus stop dignity improvements such as shelters and benches, with the goal of fully building out high capacity transit on priority corridors within the next 6 years
  • $15 M in 2020 to build sidewalks where they are currently missing, with the goal of filling all the gaps and starting to address sidewalks that are too narrow within the next 6 years
  • $7 M in 2020 to build complete bicycle networks in targeted neighborhoods, consistent with the Mayor’s goal of building 125 miles of new bikes lanes over the next 5 years
  • $6 M in 2020 to meet the goals for street safety improvements established in the Vision Zero Action Plan, and raise the City’s grade from a C to an A
  • $9 M in 2020 the additional staff and resources required to plan, build, maintain, and evaluate new walking, biking, and transit infrastructure. 

The Denver Streets Partnership also submitted recommendations [PDF] on how the City should invest the millions in tax money raised for parks through the 2A ballot measure voters approved last November. This new funding presents a valuable opportunity to invest in projects that serve to both enhance the park system AND provide healthy, safe transportation options throughout Denver.  Streets comprise the majority of open space in our city, and can provide many of the benefits associated with parks including shade trees and other greenery, stormwater management, recreation opportunities, and inviting public gathering places. Conversely, Denver’s parks are an important component of Denver’s overall transportation network, particularly for people traveling on foot or by bike.

The Denver Streets Partnership is excited to see all the work that was put into developing the Denveright plans over the past few years come to fruition as the City moves from planning into action.  Now is the time to put our money where our plans are!

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