WalkDenver had a lot to be thankful for in 2017!

by Jessica Vargas on November 27, 2017

Since WalkDenver was founded in 2011, we’ve been working hard to make Denver the most walkable city in the nation, and as our sixth year comes to a close, we have a lot to be thankful for!

Our work would not be possible without the support of people like YOU, for which we are extremely grateful. Please join us in celebrating a more walkable Denver at the Alliance Center Holiday Party on December 14, and consider contributing to our ongoing work with a year-end donation.

As we look back over the past few years, here are some of the accomplishments we are most thankful for:

Community

A walkable city is first and foremost designed for people, and listening to what people from all walks of life want and need in their neighborhoods is critical to WalkDenver’s success. Throughout the year we host, present at, and otherwise participate in an average of about two community meetings per week. We regularly gather additional input through online and paper surveys, including more than 25,000 sidewalk and intersection surveys completed through the WALKscope pedestrian data collection tool. Each conversation with residents and business owners helps us learn more about what Denverites care about, and we strive to champion the community’s needs in every project we work on.

With a staff of just three people, however, WalkDenver can’t be everywhere, and so we were thrilled to recruit and train a group of 31 community champions through our Project Shift leadership development program that launched in early 2017. Participants worked in teams to complete projects in eight different neighborhoods around the city aimed at promoting walking, biking, and transit. Projects ranged from bike festivals to walking tours to wayfinding signs and maps to pop-up traffic calming. Along the way, residents acquired the skills they need to lead more car-lite lifestyles and to advocate with the city to make their neighborhoods more walkable, bikeable, and transit friendly.

Sidewalks

Anyone who walks around our city knows that sidewalks are a problem – 40% of Denver’s streets have missing or substandard sidewalks. In 2015, WalkDenver launched the Denver Deserves Sidewalks Campaign calling upon the city to take action to ensure every neighborhood has this most basic infrastructure needed for people to safely walk. Since then WalkDenver collected nearly 3,000 petition signatures and 34 support letters; local media published at least 20 news stories on sidewalks, including a Denver Post editorial supporting WalkDenver’s campaign; City Council established a Sidewalk Working Group; and Mayor Hancock established a Sidewalk Affordability Working Group.

All this hard work is finally paying off: For the first time ever, the City’s 2017 budget included $2.5 million for constructing new sidewalks adjacent to public properties (a total of 6 miles completed to date); the 2018 budget includes $4.5 million to establish a systematic sidewalk inspection program and a revolving fund to help homeowners cover the cost of sidewalk repairs; the General Obligation Bond approved by Denver voters this November includes nearly $50 million for new sidewalk construction; and the City’s new Denver Moves Pedestrians and Trails Plan establishes clear criteria for prioritizing new sidewalk construction. Going forward, WalkDenver will continue to advocate for a sustained, long-term funding source to build out the complete sidewalk network, which will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Vision Zero

No one deserves to die just trying to get around Denver, yet on average in 2016 more than one person died in a traffic crash per week. A person walking or biking is killed once every two weeks. In 2016, WalkDenver took the lead in establishing the Denver Vision Zero Coalition, a group of community organizations that came together to support Mayor Hancock’s commitment to ending traffic fatalities and serious injuries on our city streets. The Coalition established a set of core principles that has shifted how our community talks about traffic safety and focused attention on the need to prioritize human life and health over the speed and convenience of driving.

As represents of the Coalition, WalkDenver worked closely with the City to develop Denver’s first ever Vision Zero Action Plan, which sets a timeline of eliminating fatal crashes by 2030, and outlines nearly 70 action strategies. The City’s 2018 budget includes $1 million for Vision Zero infrastructure projects, which WalkDenver and the Coalition will work to ensure is is spent wisely to address the greatest community needs, such as along Federal Boulevard where the traffic fatality rate is 20 times the average for urban streets in Colorado. The Coalition will also continue to honor the lives lost in traffic crashes through events like the Ride and Walk of Silence we hosted this past spring.

Transit

Transit and walking go together like peanut butter and jelly: Every transit rider is a pedestrian at some point in their trip, and transit serves to extend the reach of people on foot throughout the city. WalkDenver was pleased to partner with the Transit Alliance and Better Broadway Coalition this past fall to celebrate recent transit enhancements on the Broadway/Lincoln corridor with a bus stop decorating contest, and to survey transit riders about the types of amenities they’d like to see permanently added to bus stops. As the City finalizes the Denveright planning process that is establishing a broad range of new policies and implementation strategies related to land use and transportation, WalkDenver will be advocating to ensure that every priority transit corridor is also a priority pedestrian corridor, and that people traveling by foot, bus, and train are treated as first class citizens, with safe and convenient access to neighborhoods across Denver.

We look forward to working with all of you in 2018 and beyond to make Denver a truly great, people-friendly city!

Donate to WalkDenver today!

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