City working to eliminate traffic deaths by 2030

Denver wants to eliminate traffic-related deaths in the Mile High City by 2030.

Denver Police were at an all too familiar scene Friday morning: A car crash that left one person seriously hurt near Federal and Arizona.

Just a few hours later, the city announced a plan for "Vision Zero." That vision has been in the works for some time. It's a vision of zero traffic-related deaths in Denver by 2030.

Cole Sukle's family sat in the audience as Mayor Michael Hancock recognized their 14-year-old son.

"Cole was a 14-year-old loving, kind boy who loved Hawaii, his dog and skateboarding," said Hancock.

Cole was skateboarding last year in his neighborhood when he was hit and killed by a driver. His friend was also hurt.

"Cole's family deserves safe streets and, in his memory, we move forward," Hancock said. And the Vision Zero plan was announced.

"Our vision is zero crashes that result in serious bodily injury or death," said Crissy Fanganello, with the City and County of Denver.

The plan has at least 70 action items, including slowing the speed limit on some streets and adding in more crosswalks where needed.

"Place a pedestrian refuge in the middle. If you don't quite make it across the street you have a safe place to stand," added Fanganello, about another possibility.

The mayor said since last year 102 people have died from traffic crashes, including walking, biking and riding motorcycles.

This plan maps out the major problem areas, like parts of Broadway and Speer, a part of a high-injury network.

A Vision Zero designated area, researchers say, covers five percent of the city's streets but accounts for 50 percent of traffic deaths.

It's not a surprise to Kathleen Rydman who walks and drives in the area every day.

"The folks who are walking jump in front of the cars," she said. She's also watched distracted drivers.

Immediate changes will come to Federal Boulevard, according to the city, including giving people more crossing time at four intersections, including Kentucky and Holden. As well as adding a countdown of how much time is left to cross at Virginia and Jewell.

"It's a tough goal that's important to acknowledge but at the same time it's the right goal," said Fanganello. 

A goal that includes a lot of change and a lot of cooperation.

"The more we work together, the more we row in the same direction, the more likely we are going to hit that goal of vision zero," she added.

The plan also identifies areas with a larger senior community, disability community and where people don't have as many cars and therefore are relying on other ways to get around.

The city said at some point parking could be a trade-off for safety improvements, with the possibility of removing some street parking or maybe adding it in, depending on the project.

As for money, so far close to $3 million has been set aside in the 2018 budget. And the city is hopeful about a bond next month, while still looking for a permanent source of funding.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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