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Designing Safer Streets

As we noted in our last post, one of the most effective ways to make city streets safer is reducing the speed of cars traveling on them. While posting and enforcing lower speed limits is a part of the solution to change driver behavior, actually designing streets made for lower speeds has been shown to have more of an impact. In fact, part of Denver’s Vision Zero plan for building safe streets includes all of the following design goals: slower traffic, provide clear paths for all modes of travel, have safe crossings, and generally encourage safe behaviors.

One of the main key components of design that protects cyclists and pedestrians is lane width. When streets are designed with highway-width lanes (usually 12 feet per lane), drivers tend to want to drive at or near highway speeds, regardless of the posted limits. When lanes are narrower (8-feet or less is widely considered adequate for slow-moving traffic on neighborhood roads) drivers tend to drive much slower. As we have already seen, slower drivers decreases the risk of death or serious injuries to cyclists and pedestrians.

Narrowing lanes has the added benefit of making room for other pedestrian and cycling safety infrastructure, such as protected bike lanes and median refuge islands. Median refuges (also called median crossing islands) provide protected spaces for pedestrians and bicyclists in the middle of the street to facilitate crossings. They are often used to slow traffic and simplify crossings by allowing people to walk across just one direction of travel at a time. Narrower lanes also allow for the construction of curb extensions, which further slow vehicular traffic, and reduce the distance pedestrians must travel to cross the road.

For more recommendations for designing safer streets and other steps towards achieving the goal of zero traffic deaths by 2030, have a look at the Denver Vision Zero Action Plan. You'll be able to see which streets are of particular concern, in what is called the High Impact Network (HIN), and find more information about how streets can be retrofitted to create multimodal safety.

Join us for the 2019 Ride & Walk of Silence:

We would like to invite everyone reading this to join us for the Ride and Walk of Silence on May 15th from 5:30 -7:30 p.m. to commemorate and raise awareness of the cyclists and pedestrians who have been killed in traffic crashes in Denver. Since January 1, 2018 in Denver, 78 people have lost their lives in traffic crashes. Of these, 28 were people walking and 6 were biking.

We hope you will join us to honor and stand in solidarity with victims of traffic violence and their families, and to demand the changes in policy, infrastructure and culture needed to make Denver a city where no pedestrians or cyclists die trying to navigate our streets.

We will be meeting in front of the City and County building at 5:30, then will walk or bike together to Sunken Gardens where a ceremony will be held. If you are interested in attending please see more info and register here.

B-Cycles will be available to pick up at the start location for anyone who wants to use one for the ride. You can then leave it at Sunken Gardens, or ride it to any station. If you are a current B-cycle member and want to ride a B-cycle to the starting location and use it for the ride please let us know and we will waive any overtime fees. If you are not a B-cycle member but would like to use a B-cycle for the ride and would rather pick it up at a station near you and ride to the start point contact us and we will provide a free pass to check out the bike. Please reach out to us to let us know if you would like to use one of these options. Contact us at info@denverbcycle.org or 303-825-3325.


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