Traveling (breakneck, behind the windshield) through the remaining paragraphs of the recent Denver Post editorial regarding the mix of drivers and other users on city streets, the Post trots out that old saw, “Denver isn’t [enter name of dense, popular, wealthy, bike-friendly metropolis here].” This is such a useless statement. You know what else Denver isn’t? Denver isn’t Limon (with apologies to Limon). We have high-density neighborhoods where biking would be a preferable alternative to driving given safe street space. Denver isn’t Pueblo (with apologies to Pueblo). We have a thriving downtown which can’t handle any more car traffic at rush hour—stop building new parking trying to accommodate cars which can’t make it down there anyway. Denver isn’t Lamar (with apologies to Lamar). We have people who actually can and would get out of their cars if streets were safe to use and buses were convenient.
The Post admits that Denver is a large and growing city but doesn’t seem to think that the city can or should change, or apparently even attempt it. Commuter traffic is a problem, they say innocently, without seeming to realize that the reason it’s a problem is that everyone tries to drive their own car on crowded streets because good alternatives are lacking. If safe and convenient alternatives were comparable and available, then only those actually needing to drive would drive and others would take the easier alternative.
The Post notes that Crissy Fanganello, Denver director of transportation, acknowledges that we’re out of room to expand street space for more cars. The city knows this. The city would like to do something about it, using its infrastructure more wisely to move more people. But the Post’s final words on the subject, “We hope that best use accommodates those who cannot or will not use alternatives to their cars regardless of how fast and efficient the other options are” implies that the city is looking to take all space from cars. This is disingenuous scaremongering. No one, including myself, has ever advocated for not accommodating car use on city streets. What I and others advocate for is safe streets which accommodate all modes. This means less space for single-occupancy vehicles, not none, and the Post should be ashamed for implying otherwise.
I’m sorry that it took six posts to fully respond to the Denver Post’s short-sighted, misleading, and fundamentally flawed editorial. It just goes to show how biased we are as a community towards one mode of transportation on our streets—so biased that many of the Post‘s words aren’t controversial to those who read them. We have a long way to go to build a city which works better for all Denverites, regardless of how they get around.
This is Part 6 of a six-part response to the Denver Post editorial of February 23, 2017.