What else? Well, many sidewalks are missing. Now, the city has never been in charge of installing or repairing sidewalks—it’s always been the responsibility of developers and homeowners. What does this say about our priorities? Certainly not that we care about people who walk to the store, or walk with their kids to the park, or walk to the bus stop for work. It says a lot that we care more to make the streets wide and fast than the sidewalks safe and inviting. People notice this and plan accordingly. Who would try to walk somewhere when the city provides fast streets but no sidewalks? Of course they would make the rational decision to drive instead. Why do we act surprised when people make choices based upon where and how the city spends its money?
Transit, the great equalizer where a businessman might share a ride with a bum, is also public space. But our transit system is anemic, and an astonishingly small amount of our public street space is dedicated to making sure that it’s frequent, timely, and not caught in the same congestion as the automobiles. But this is a choice. We choose to prioritize street space for car drivers instead of transit riders and our populace knows it, and they avoid transit and drive instead because there is little advantage to riding the bus when you’re caught in the same traffic.
It’s time to choose differently Denver. It’s time to choose to make our public spaces safe, efficient, and worthy of investment. It’s time to be proud when we step out of our homes and into our neighborhoods because we want to be proud of our city, and the choices we make about how to allocate public space inform what kind of city we are.