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Activists put up signs on Denver streets in hopes of saving lives

Despite years of work to make streets safer, last year was the deadliest on Denver's roads in decades.

DENVER — New additions to street signs this weekend share a deadly reminder. Despite years of work to make streets safer, 2021 was the deadliest on Denver's roads in decades.

Activists spent their weekends putting up the signs in hopes of saving lives. 

"It's tough to look at them when you see them and you realize it is so much more than a name," Allen Cowgill said.

Cowgill is a volunteer with Denver Streets Partnership, a coalition of community organizations advocating for people-friendly streets in the city.

Cowgill helped put up signs at intersections where people were killed in traffic crashes in the last year.

"You see a lot of memorials that families have put up to remember their loved ones, and it's tough to see knowing what they are going through," he said. 

Cowgill doesn't want another family to feel that pain. Through the signs, Denver Streets Partnership is warning the public about how dangerous the roads can be and asking the city to make them safer.

"The signs are to raise awareness that someone died here and this is preventable," Cowgill said. "We can do things to make it better."

Denver’s roadways saw 84 traffic deaths in 2021, the most since the city implemented its Vision Zero plan, which aims to end traffic deaths by the year 2030.

The death toll for pedestrians and people in cars, on motorcycles and on bikes is up significantly compared to the 61 deaths on Denver roadways in 2016, the year Mayor Michael Hancock announced the city’s commitment to the plan.

"We know what it takes to make these streets safer," Cowgill said. "We know what we need to do as a city. We just need the political will to get it done."

Denver Streets Partnership believes these crashes are preventable, and they want to see different street designs that deter speeding. 

On May 18, there will be a Ride and Walk of Silence to honor the lives lost to traffic crashes. People joining the walk or ride will meet at Rude Park (near the intersection of 13th Avenue and Decatur Street) at 6 p.m. and walk and ride separate loops that lead back to the park. Then the entire group will convene at Rude Park at 7 p.m. for a short ceremony.

RELATED: Man says intersection in his Denver neighborhood needs fixes after dozens of wrecks

RELATED: 'This is a personal accountability solution': Drivers urged to take action as Colorado traffic fatalities hit 20 year high

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