Yet another death on a Denver arterial

by Jessica Vargas on January 11, 2018

On December 21, 18-year-old Dominique Amos became the 14th and final person to die while walking on Denver’s streets in 2017, when a person driving struck and killed her on Leetsdale Drive near Quebec Street. With a posted speed limit of 40 mph and a street design that encourages even higher speeds than that, it’s not surprising that Leetsdale is part of Denver’s “High Injury Network” – the five percent of streets where 50% of traffic fatalities occur.

Image credit: Streetsblog Denver


The Denver Police, Public Works, and CDOT (since Leetsdale is a state highway) all recognize the intersection of Leetsdale and Quebec as particularly problematic, with four pedestrian fatalities between 2012 and 2017. While the intersection has a traffic signal and crosswalks, people waiting to cross the street must press a “beg button” to get a WALK signal. The wide turning radii at the corners invites drivers making a right to speed through the crosswalk, heedless of pedestrians attempting to hustle across the six lanes of traffic. Although Leetsdale has a median, it’s not designed to provide safe refuge for pedestrians.

The intersection also serves the 83L/D bus line, one of the more heavily used routes in the RTD system, and the long articulated buses used to accommodate the high ridership requires the stops to be located pretty far back from the intersection. After Quebec, the next signalized intersection is at Oneida, nearly 1500 feet away. Most people just won’t walk more than a couple of hundred feet out of their way simply to cross the street, and there are plenty of desirable destinations on both sides of the street – including restaurants and a large apartment complex – tempting people to cross mid-block.

Image credit: Google Maps


Denver’s Vision Zero Action Plan further identifies the surrounding neighborhoods as “Communities of Concern” – areas with low income and education levels, high concentrations of seniors and people with disabilities, low rates of vehicle ownership, high obesity rates, and high numbers of schools and community centers. In other words, this highly dangerous arterial cuts through neighborhoods populated by some of Denver’s most vulnerable residents.

Image credit: City & County of Denver


The good news is the “Go Speer Leetsdale Study” completed by the City last year recommends changes to the corridor that would significantly improve safety for everyone, including center-running dedicated bus lanes; a wide, shared-use bicycle and pedestrian path; enhanced medians with pedestrian refuge islands; curb extensions at intersections to shorten crossing distances; and smaller corner turning radii. The bad news is the City has not yet allocated any funding to implement these changes. Dominique Amos’s untimely death is just the most recent reminder of the urgency of doing so.

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