I’m happy to spread the word that there’s a new organization in Denver dedicated to promoting walkability and creating great pedestrian environments: WalkDenver.
Taking the lead in launching WalkDenver is local architect Gosia Kung, who has kindly provided me with the following overview of the group and its mission, to share with DenverUrbanism readers:
People are pedestrians by design
WalkDenver is an advocacy group focused on pedestrian safety and experience. Our Vision for Denver is to become a pedestrian oriented city. We see our city as a network of well-connected neighborhoods that are people-focused, culturally vibrant, active, and economically thriving.
We recognize that walking is the most basic form of transportation. We are all pedestrians “by design” and being able to walk safely is a basic human right. Our organization was formed to challenge current city planning strategies that consider walking as “an alternative form of transportation”, not deserving attention and resources dedicated to vehicular traffic.
WalkDenver promotes walking as the most sustainable form of transportation. No resources (other than a pair of shoes) are needed to allow people to travel as pedestrians. Therefore pedestrian impact on the environment is minimal.
Walking is a social activity. People like to be surrounded by other human beings; walking allows for opportunity to “bump into” an old friend, a conversation, an observation, and a participation in activity.
Walking is the most basic, free and easy form of exercise. When integrated into an everyday lifestyle walking can provide enough activity to maintain a healthy weight and reduce risk of diabetes and heart disease. Outdoor activity and human interaction associated with walking contributes to better mental health.
Pedestrians are also the ones that shop, dine and spend money. Pedestrianism is an economic driver. Creating pedestrian oriented districts leads to higher retail revenue and increased commercial activity.
The benefits of walking are numerous and WalkDenver advocates that pedestrians are given priority in public and private infrastructure investments.
There are several elements that contribute to positive pedestrian experience but the most important one is safety. Safety is determined by the quality of infrastructure and amenities. Sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, lighting, way finding, landscaping and street furniture contribute to physical environment that is necessary for perception of safety and comfort. WalkDenver advocates for inclusion of pedestrian safety measures in the city design standards. We monitor that the standards are included in project budgets and implemented. We also ensure that the maintenance standards are enforced.
Pedestrian experience goes beyond safety. Pedestrian destinations, retail stores, coffee shops, active recreation opportunities are necessary to make walking FUN! Vibrant streets, plazas and waterfronts are elements that draw peoples’ activity. Farmers’ markets, art districts, shopping malls are places that are successful because they are pedestrian friendly. WalkDenver advocates for creating pedestrian districts connected by a network of safe streets, bike trails and public transit.
We recognize that Denver is a great city with even bigger potential. Our downtown framed by pockets of local neighborhood activity is an ideal foundation for creating a pedestrian oriented city. Our neighborhoods build on the grid of streets provide a good framework for pedestrian activity. At WalkDenver, we believe that Denver has a potential to become a model walkable, livable and sustainable city that others will follow.
For more information and to sign up for our email updates please visit our website at www.walkdenver.org.
As regular visitors to this site know, one of our top priorities at DenverUrbanism/DenverInfill is advocating for the reversal of the pro-automobile policies and designs that nearly destroyed our cities and prioritizing pedestrians, bicycles, and transit within our urban public realm. So, to that end, welcome WalkDenver!! DenverUrbanism and DenverInfill are proud to be a partner and supporter.