Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Pedestrians category.

USDOT Prioritizes Safe Walking and Biking

This post was written by WalkDenver Board member Gideon Berger and was originally presented here:

WalkDenver was excited to participate in the Pro Walk/ Pro Bike/ Pro Place conference in Pittsburgh earlier this month. While there is always lots to learn from advocates and practitioners from all around the country at this national conference for walking and bicycling professionals organized by the Project for Public Spaces, federal Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx also made headlines by announcing a new US Department of Transportation initiative to enhance pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Called “Safer People, Safer Streets,” Secretary Foxx—who was once hit by a right-turning driver while jogging during his first term as mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina—called the action plan, “the most comprehensive, forward-leaning initiative U.S. DOT has ever put forward on bike/ ped issues.” While there has been a 33% reduction in passenger vehicle occupant deaths in the US in the past decade, the DOT reports the number of bicycle and pedestrian fatalities has increased by about 15% since 2009. And pedestrian fatalities are a far larger problem: 4,743 were killed while walking in 2012 compared to 726 cyclists.

Recent data also indicates that residents of low-income and minority neighborhoods are disproportionately involved in bike and ped injuries and fatalities, and low-income neighborhoods often have fewer sidewalks and other safe infrastructure. Ped and bike safety is also a more serious problem in cities and urban areas: 73% of pedestrian deaths and 69% of bicyclist deaths in 2012 occurred where interactions between vehicles and non-motorized users are frequent, and where many people walk or bike to reach destinations or transit stops and stations. The majority of fatalities occur on urban arterial streets.

So what is DOT proposing to do about all this? Over the next 18 months they will be rolling out a variety of new resources and highlighting existing tools for transportation practitioners. On pedestrian safety, these will include:

  • bike/ped safety assessments of selected corridors throughout the country
  • a new road diet guide (studies show that road diets reduce all traffic crashes by an average of 29%)
  • an “aggressive research agenda” on a range of topics including pedestrian safety, performance measures, design flexibility and network development
  • an updated resident’s guide for creating safe and walkable communities
  • evaluation of pedestrian safety engineering countermeasures at urban and suburban mid-block crossing locations (about 70% of ped fatalities occur away from intersections)
  • pedestrian countermeasure crash modification factor study (focusing on sites and 18 countermeasures in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Miami)
  • a new Road Safety for Transit Patrons Initiative to bring staff from federal agencies to provide technical assistance to transit operators
  • requiring transit agencies to establish policies for encouraging safe access to transit as part of their Transit Agency Safety Plans
  • promoting the improvement of pedestrian networks such as by evaluating new ped facilities for inclusion in the next addition of the federal traffic control device manual in 2016
  • evaluating new law enforcement and education techniques as pilots in New York City, Philadelphia and Louisville, Ky.
  • developing new safety campaign materials

As we gear up for a new pedestrian plan in the City & County of Denver, we at WalkDenver could not be happier about the timing of this announcement. We hope to see the city officials take advantage of these new resources, tools, guidance and research.


WalkDenver’s Policy Advocacy Gains Momentum

By Jill Locantore, WalkDenver Policy and Program Director

2014-08-08_PetitionQuote

Timothy is just one of more than 900 people who have signed (electronically and on paper) WalkDenver’s petition calling upon the City to establish a Pedestrian Advisory Committee and adopt a Denver Moves Pedestrians implementation plan. More than 30 partners have provided letters of support as well–view the full list on the WalkDenver website.

This groundswell of support is having an impact: last week the WalkDenver team met with senior city officials to discuss our policy goals, and was very well received. We learned that the draft 2015 City budget includes funding for a Denver Moves Pedestrians plan. With support from Public Works and Community Planning and Development we have initiated the process of establishing a Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Now we are working to schedule a meeting with the Mayor, to emphasize the importance of walkability in Denver and ensure funding for a pedestrian plan is maintained in the final City budget.

The more petition signatures and support letters we can present to the Mayor, the greater our chances of success. If you haven’t done so already, please sign the petition today, and help us spread the word! If your organization would like to provide a letter of support, contact WalkDenver’s Executive Director Gosia Kung at gosia.kung@walkdenver.org.

~~~

A version of this post also appeared on WalkDenver’s blog at http://www.walkdenver.org/walkdenvers-policy-advocacy-gains-momentum/


A Call to Action: Pedestrian Advocacy on the Move

By Jill Locantore, WalkDenver Policy and Program Director

WalkDenver is working to make Denver the most walkable city in the nation, and recently launched a petition calling on our City officials to take two actions:

Form a Pedestrian Advisory Committee whose role will be to advise city officials, city agencies, and the office of the Mayor on policies, procedures, and infrastructure improvements needed to make Denver a great city for walking.

Establish Denver Moves Pedestrians, a parallel implementation plan to the bicycle-focused Denver Moves plan, so that the City has a clear path forward for improving the pedestrian environment in Denver.

These actions will build on the momentum created by two important milestones in Denver’s pedestrian advocacy movement: In April, Denver was nationally recognized with a “Gold” Walk Friendly Community designation, and in May, Kaiser Permanente awarded WalkDenver a substantial grant to support the organization’s grassroots advocacy work.

Walk Friendly Communities is a national program that recognizes communities working to improve walkability and pedestrian safety. WalkDenver’s dedicated volunteers collaborated with City’s agencies to prepare an extensive application focused on assessing Denver’s current transportation and land use policies.  This effort paid off when Denver received the Gold designation, one of just 13 cities that has achieved this status.  

2014-06-24_WalkDenver

Pedestrians at Better Block Jefferson Park
(photo courtesy WalkDenver)

While the Gold designation signals that Denver is on the right track, the City still has work to do. The website WalkScore.com ranks Denver as the 17th most walkable large city in the U.S., behind other western cities such as  Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco. The Alliance for Biking & Walking 2014 Benchmarking report ranks Denver 36th out of 52 large metro areas on per capita spending on pedestrian and bicycle projects. Similarly, a recent report on walkable urbanism from LOCUS ranked Denver 14th out of 30 metropolitan areas.

Now with a major grant from Kaiser Permanente, WalkDenver has grown from a primarily volunteer-based organization to a professionally-staffed advocacy group, and is poised to make significant progress toward improving the pedestrian environment in Denver. In addition to collecting petition signatures, WalkDenver is also gathering letters of support from partner organizations, as well as seeking individual and corporate sponsors for both its advocacy work and additional Better Block events.  

Join the effort by signing WalkDenver’s petition today!  For more information, visit the WalkDenver website, or contact WalkDenver Executive Director Gosia Kung at gosia.kung@walkdenver.org.

~~~

A version of this post also appeared on WalkDenver’s blog at http://www.walkdenver.org/a-call-to-action-pedestrian-advocacy-on-the-move/


FasTracks Progress: Union Station Transit Complex Opens!

It’s been a long, long time coming, but the $500 million Denver Union Station Transit Center is COMPLETE and will open for transit operations tomorrow! This is undoubtedly a game changer for downtown Denver and represents the realization of nearly three decades of planning efforts, if not more. Ryan D. covered the grand opening ceremonies in two posts (parts one and two) yesterday on DenverInfill.

The Denver Union Station Transit Center (any ideas for a nickname?) consists of three major transit components: light rail (open in 2011), bus (open now), and commuter rail (coming in 2016). Let’s take a look at each of those components and how they fit into one of the most expensive infrastructure investments since Denver International Airport.

RTD has produced (and agreed to share) this great image that gives a general overview as to how the three components fit together and where the different modes provide service to.

UnionStation-Map - Copy

The locations and facilities labeled in orange on the image above are now complete and will be open for the general public on Sunday, May 11, 2014. The Chestnut, Wewatta, and Union Station Pavilions provide the three main entrances to the underground bus station, complete with stairs, escalators, and elevators. The Platform 2 and Platform 4 Pavilions provide access from the Commuter Rail platform with stair and elevator access to the underground bus concourse (no escalators).

The light rail facility was relocated in 2011 and served as the first major component completed at Union Station as part of this massive project. This new station replaced the previous light rail platform which was located just south of Wewatta Street (right about where the Wewatta Pavilion is today). The 16th Street MallRide was also extended 2-3 blocks to serve the new light rail station at the same time.

2014_05_09_DUSLRT01 

The underground bus station (which again….nickname?) is a sight to behold. A behemoth at 140 feet wide and 980 feet long, this 22-bay bus station has more than twice the capacity of Market Street’s 10 bays. The pedestrian concourse isn’t anything to sneeze at, coming in at 44 feet wide and 780 feet long. Every bus that services Market Street Station today will service Union Station, in addition to the free MetroRide. Buses from Greyhound as well as other private bus companies are a possibility in the future (no definitive plans as of yet). CDOT announced this week that its new inter-regional bus system—which will connect Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, and Glenwood Springs (and points in between) with downtown Denver—will serve the underground bus station. This new service starts sometime next year!

DenverUrbanism and DenverInfill have tackled the bus station through several previous posts, so I won’t bombard you with pictures here, but let’s take a look at some before-and-after pictures of the bus facility. Better yet, head on down and take a look for yourself. Honestly, I was wary when I heard about the yellow tile (can anyone say outdated and tacky?) but I think it turned out great. Combined with the seven skylights, it really helps brighten the facility up and makes it seem even larger (if that was possible).

2014_05_09_DUSBefore03 2014_05_09_DUSAfter01

2014_05_09_DUSBefore01 2014-05-09_DUSAfter02

The final and the most visible and stunning piece of transit infrastructure at Union Station has to be the commuter rail platform. Denver is known for lots of things (300 sunny days each year, active lifestyles, marijuana, etc.) but stunning and modern architecture tends to not make most people’s lists. This canopy will serve as an iconic welcome to those who arrive in downtown Denver by transit, whether it be the coming commuter rail lines, bus, or light rail.

2013_11_18_DUSCanopy04 2013_11_18_DUSCanopy09   

2013_11_18_DUSCanopy18 2013_11_18_DUSCanopy10

Union Station is big. It’s expensive. It’s important. It serves as the hub of the $6+ billion, decade-long infrastructure investment that is FasTracks. It will serve as the heart of transit throughout metro Denver. It will change how tens of thousands of people access downtown Denver on a daily basis. Get down there and take a look. Wander around. We all paid for it, and after decades of planning and years of construction, we can finally cash in on this investment.


“Sneckdowns” reveal street space cars don’t use

Every time it snows, vast sections of city streets remain covered by snow long after plows and moving cars have cleared the travel lanes. These leftover spaces are called “sneckdowns,” and they show where sidewalks or medians could replace roads without much loss to car drivers.


Photo by Anne G on flickr.

The term sneckdown is a portmanteau of “snow” and “neckdown,” the latter being another term for sidewalk curb extensions. So it literally means a sidewalk extension created by snow.

New York’s biggest urbanist blog, Streetsblog, put out a call for photos of sneckdowns in the wild earlier this winter. They’ve received plenty of responses.

Be on the lookout for these as winter continues to roll along.