Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Public Health category.

Colorado Bike to Work Day 2013!

A reminder to everyone that Bike to Work Day is tomorrow Wednesday June 26th! In fact this whole week, the fourth week of June every year, is Colorado Bike Month!

Be sure to register for the event so you can find group rides, breakfast and event stations, win prizes and to get involved in a great day for Colorado. Registering also helps organizers accurately determine how many commuters are participating, how many cars where removed from Wednesday’s commute and which routes and areas have the most bicycle commuter potential; all of which is vital for continuing this event and improving our state’s two wheel infrastructure. As of Tuesday morning almost 20,000 cyclist-commuters have already registered!

For help finding your bicycling route, and event stations, check out Bike to Work Day’s route finder or use Google Maps improved transit/cycling/pedestrian direction function. If you have a longer or shorter commute working transit or walking into the trip is also accepted.

Ready to go? Let us know your favorite part of your bike commute or which breakfast station or group ride you are looking forward to? What would make your commute more bike friendly?


Community Coordinating District and Eddie Maestas Park

By Jorgen Jensen

The Community Coordinating District (CCD No.1) is a unique metropolitan district (metro district) established to facilitate public improvement and development initiatives throughout the Denver metro area. They’ve recently engaged “virtual town hall” technology through Mind Mixer and are making a push through the attached Mini-Contest to raise awareness of their own website.

CCD No.1 was created to address a familiar hurdle in community development projects. The challenge, as with most collaborative efforts, is aligning multiple stakeholders to work together toward a common goal. This requires a clear and actionable strategy, the right funding resources, and positive action from everyone involved

With many of these issues especially prevalent in Northeast Downtown neighborhoods, CCD No. 1 was established with cooperation from Councilwoman Judy Montero, the Ballpark Neighborhood Association, and Urban Market Partners to help with placemaking efforts and other goals of the Northeast Downtown Neighborhoods – specifically in and around the Triangle Parks area. We’ve all seen the Triangle Parks along Broadway near shelters at Lawrence and know there’s work to be done.

  

It’s important to highlight that this metro or “Special District” is the first of its kind in that it has no Service Area Plan Boundaries. In fact, the District has no geographical boundaries and provides an “Opt-in” structure so that other groups or community development efforts can someday use this as a vehicle to more efficiently partner with their respective City.

For their pilot project, CCD No. 1 has chosen Eddie Maestas Park at Park Avenue and Lawrence Street, across from the Denver Rescue Mission. The conversation has since expanded and is now addressing issues and opportunities at Sonny Lawson Park and along the entire 24th Street corridor. It’s clear that the issues surrounding the Triangle Parks are just as much about the social infrastructure as they are the physical design or infrastructure. Further, what happens at Eddie Maestas affects Curtis Park and Sonny Lawson Park, so a more global, holistic approach to the programming of the neighborhood wide public realm is needed.

You can learn more about CCD No. 1 by visiting their website or find them on Facebook.

This coming Monday (21st) at 5:30PM, CCD No. 1 will be hosting its Monthly Public Work Session Meeting at Redline at 24th and Arapahoe.  This meeting is especially important because ALL temporary design plans for Triangle Parks will be presented. The goal is to collect all public and stakeholder feedback and select a concept to advance. The CCD No. 1 Creative Working Group meets every Monday at 10AM at 450 E. 17th Ave #400. This group exists to focus on the temporary and long term vision surrounding Eddie Maestas. The Long Term Vision Group meets every Monday at 11AM at Redline. This group focuses on the entire Northeast Downtown neighborhood area and the many possibilities for revitalization. Any and all are welcome and encouraged to attend both the monthly work session next Monday and the Creative Working Group meetings!


People Are Pedestrians By Design

By Gosia Kung

There is something absolutely amazing that happens when a child takes her first steps. As she starts exploring the world in the vertical position her perception changes. And this new spatial awareness transforms her from an infant into a person. It’s almost as the ability to walk defines a child as a human being.

Through evolution humans became pedestrians. The scientists study the connection between “feet and head” and how the development of people as walkers and runners effected the development of our brains. We all know this feeling, when we pace around the room in search for a solution to a problem or go for a walk to ‘clear our head’. The connection between the brain and the feet is clear.

For thousands of years of evolution walking was the only form of transportation available to most. Our brains are “hard wired” to the experience of walking as our eyes are conditioned to register the objects at 3 miles/ hour. At this speed human brain is able to acknowledge a face of the passerby, a flower, a bird or a sign in a storefront.

Walking is also an integral part of our social life. People like to be surrounded by other human beings and walking allows for opportunity to “bump into” an old friend, a conversation, an observation, and a participation in activity.

People’s bodies and minds are designed to participate in a pedestrian lifestyle. As technological advancements allowed us to “engineer walking out of our lifestyle” we are faced with multitude of problems from depression to diabetes and from anxiety to cardiovascular disease.

While entire health industry is alarmed by increasing rates of obesity and every day we hear recommendations for adding physical activity to our lifestyle it is important to note that simple walking twice a day for 15 minutes at a time is often enough to maintain a healthy weight. But most urban and suburban areas developed in last 50-60 years are not designed for pedestrians. Intense traffic, lack of sidewalks and ped infrastructure make it unsafe to walk.

In order to allow people to be pedestrians again we need to design streets and public spaces to the “human scale”. Creating places that are safe and fun to walk will soon result with people incorporating walking into their daily routine. Walking to school, running errands on foot and using transit for longer trips will become a part of healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.

Because “people are pedestrians by design”.

For more information please visit WalkDenver at www.walkdenver.org

~~~

Gosia Kung, Architect, LEED AP BD+C – was born in Krakow, Poland where has received a degree in Architecture and Urban Design from University of Technology in 1996. Her passion for urban design and sustainable city planning is well grounded in historic context of European towns and enriched with her experience as a practicing architect in the US in last 15 years. As a principal/owner of KUNG architecture her mission is to promote ‘sustainable solutions for the urban lifestyle’. Her focus is on design, education, and consulting in areas of mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods supported by public transit. Gosia is the founder of WalkDenver. She can be reached by email at: gkung *at* kungarch *dot* com.


Nuclear power, the US, and Japan

Question: How might the disaster in Japan kill thousands of Americans? Answer: If anti-nuclear knee-jerk reactionaries are successful in using the Japanese tsunami as political leverage to scare Americans from investing in more nuclear power.

How so? Because every year 30,000 Americans die from causes related to coal power production. Thirty thousand. That’s more dead Americans every year than in the entire Revolutionary War. It’s five times as many dead Americans as the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars combined. It’s almost twice the 18,000 estimated Japanese dead from the tsunami disaster.

The longer we use coal instead of nuclear for the majority of our power generation in this country, the more Americans will die.

While we’re on the subject, let’s also talk about how dangerous the nuclear situation in Japan actually is. The chart below is a snippet from a much larger one comparing radiation doses received for a variety of events. Note that the additional radiation doses received by Japanese citizens in villages near the breaking-down nuclear plant average less than a normal day’s dose (which is to say, they’re getting less than twice the normal daily dose that you get simply by living on the surface of the Earth). They’re less than you get from a dental x-ray, and much less than you get by flying on a jet from New York to Los Angeles.

It’s true that a relatively small number of workers at the plant are getting much higher doses, but the danger to the mass population is quite low. Meanwhile, thousands of people around the world continue to die every day as a result of coal power production. Far more than will ever die as a result of nuclear radiation from any of these Japanese plants. The 30,000 American deaths per year attributed to coal average to more than 80 per day, which is nothing compared to the average of almost 1,400 per day from China’s half-million annual coal deaths.

I don’t mean to imply that we should treat nuclear power lightly. Of course the only reason it’s so safe is that tremendous safety measures are involved. We should absolutely learn from the disaster in Japan to improve safety however possible. But one thing we cannot afford to do is allow knee-jerk reactionaries to stop America from expanding our nuclear production capacity. The human toll of such narrow thinking would simply be too great.

click to enlarge
Radiation doses from a variety of sources.
Image from xkcd.com.


Prairie Dogs

Let’s talk prairie dogs. The cute, annoying, burrowing animals (which my dogs love to chase) that are very prevelant all along the Front Range. RTD’s East Corridor project will be impacting colonies of prairie dogs on its trek from Denver Union Station to DIA.

RTD can’t simply build right over the little buggers, so they have implemented a Prairie Dog Mitigation Guidance policy (in full compliance with Federal and state standards, of course). There are four steps included in this policy:

  1. Attempt to avoid colonies greater than two acres in size.
  2. If that isn’t possible, move towards a live relocation (rounding them up and moving them somewhere else). Prairie dogs are so popular that any relocation across county lines requires approval by the Board of Commissioners from the receiving county – this is required by state law.
  3. In the event that a live relocation isn’t feasible, the prairie dogs are humanely euthanized and donated to programs and organizations for injured raptors or black-footed ferrets (endangered).
  4. In the event no recovery program will take the prairie dogs, they are humanely euthanized on-site.

In RTD’s case along the East Corridor, a live relocation was not possible. A willing relocation site was not found in time – therefore, the third option was used. RTD, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), and local jurisdictions tried finding willing recipients for the prairie dogs beginning in 2007. That effort proved fruitless, however. Denver Transit Partners (DTP, RTD’s concessionaire on the Eagle Project) contacted a dozen local jurisdictions and potential relocation programs, but no willing recipients stepped forward.

RTD and DTP have a commitement from a local injured-raptor recovery program to use the prairie dogs euthanized along the East Corridor as a food source for its program. Some of the raptors benefiting from this arrangement are either threatened or endangered species. If the raptor program cannot use the upwards of 400 prairie dogs expected, RTD and DTP have an agreement from a black-footed ferret recovery program as well. RTD and DTP will continue to puruse live relocation along the corridor if relocaton areas can be identified and feasible.

Utility relocations are currently underway (which we will cover soon) and major construction activities will start later this year and in early 2012. This is another sign of progress along the East Corridor – less than 5 years until we can take a train from downtown to DIA!