Will Blueprint Denver help create more people-friendly streets? Submit your comments by October 31!

by Jessica Vargas on October 18, 2018

Image credit: Ryan Dravitz Photography

There’s still time to provide comments on the draft update to the Blueprint Denver plan!

For the last few years, the City has been working on a series of plans for the future of Denver, a citywide planning effort known as Denveright. Unlike the Game Plan and Denver Moves plans, however, Blueprint Denver will be officially adopted by City Council. That is why it is important to provide your input on the plan that will shape the next 20 years of development and transportation decisions for the city.

WalkDenver and our fellow members of the Denver Streets Partnership (DSP) have been hard at work reading through the draft to see which aspects of the plan will support the creation of more people-friendly streets. In addition to reading through the 283-page document, DSP members have been attending community workshops and task force meetings hosted by the City since the public process began back in 2016. If you haven’t had a chance to participate in the development of Blueprint so far, here are some of the DSP’s thoughts on the draft plan.

What’s good?

The plan includes a number of elements that would support making Denver’s streets more people-friendly. It establishes goals for developing high-quality mobility options, focusing higher intensity growth in walkable, mixed-use centers and along transit corridors, and promoting a healthy community with equitable access to healthy living for all residents. The plan also contains metrics and targets for increasing the number of neighborhoods where at least half of households have access to quality transit, jobs, and retail within walking distance and for reducing the percent of commuters who drive alone to work.

The draft even recommends implementing the Vision Zero Action Plan and the Denver Moves plans to ensure transportation networks and infrastructure are safe and efficient for all modes. WalkDenver was especially pleased to see it clearly stated that people walking should be prioritized over other modes of transportation on all streets.

What could be improved?

The DSP feels there are a number of areas where the draft could be strengthened. The most important change the plan should make is to more clearly state the real problem our City is facing when it comes to transportation: The conflict between reliance on cars as a primary mode of transportation and other community needs. The draft states: “Denver has a finite street network, but greater demands are being placed on the public right-of-way. These recommendations address how to balance the competing needs for space on streets including safety, moving people and creating attractive public spaces.”

Denver does indeed have limited street space, but safety, moving people, and creating attractive public spaces are not competing needs. Addressing all three of these needs simultaneously is entirely feasible. Collectively, these three needs do compete with reliance on cars as a primary mode of transportation. The plan fails to acknowledge that for many years, by prioritizing cars, Denver’s policies resulted in a transportation system that is unsafe, moves people inefficiently, and degrades the quality of public spaces along many of our city’s major corridors. Prioritization of cars also competes with other Blueprint Denver goals, including providing mobility options beyond driving for people of all ages and abilities and promoting a healthy community with equitable access to healthy living for all residents.

A clear statement that this update to Blueprint represents a break from previous policies and now views cars, particularly single-occupant vehicles, as lower priority than other modes would provide a more coherent framework for evaluating the real trade-offs that our community must make.

You have until October 31 to provide feedback and comments on the plan via this online survey. If you are submitting consolidated feedback on behalf of a Registered Neighborhood Organization (RNO) or advocacy group, you may request a one-month extension by emailing blueprint@denvergov.org by October 31. For more details about the DSP analysis of the Blueprint draft, read the full letter sent to the City [PDF]. To learn more about the Denver Streets Partnership and how to get involved, visit the DSP website.

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