Denver’s Dismal Pedestrian Safety Record
Every year, nearly 6,000 pedestrians are killed by cars in cities across the United States, and thousands more are injured. Even though technological advancements like self-driving cars, auto-braking, and backup cameras are becoming more and more common, the number of pedestrian deaths has been on the rise for years.
Of course, most pedestrian deaths caused by cars are preventable. Either the driver, the pedestrian, or both parties fail to pay enough attention, and the result can be catastrophic. In fact, one in six people killed by a distracted driver in 2017 was a pedestrian, not an occupant of the car.
Denver’s Poor Safety Grade
In January of 2019, a safety advocacy organization called the Denver Streets Partnership gave Denver a “C” grade for the progress that the city made on its Vision Zero project — a goal introduced in 2017 to reduce pedestrian deaths and injuries on Denver’s streets to zero.
The reason for the grade? In 2018, 59 pedestrians died on Denver’s streets, the second-highest number in more than 15 years. In 2019, that number shot up to 71. The city is taking steps to improve, from adding pedestrian refuge islands and flashing lights at crossings to incorporating bike lanes and improving light timing at major intersections.
The neighborhood of Tennyson in Denver has come up with a low-cost but functional solution. At about a dozen crosswalks, toilet brush containers with handheld orange flags have been mounted so that pedestrians can make themselves more visible when crossing.
The worst offender: Federal Boulevard. More than a fifth of Denver’s pedestrian casualties occurred along Federal, with more than three times the deaths of Colfax, despite the fact that Colfax is much longer. In fact, 311 people were injured or killed on Federal between 2013 and 2018.
Steps Denver is Taking to Improve
It’s not all bad news! The city is making an effort to implement new rules that keep pace with the way that Denver is growing and changing. When construction blocks sidewalks, some people cross the street but others take their chances walking down the street.
Under new rules, construction companies won’t be allowed to completely block the sidewalk. Instead, they’ll have to build a pedestrian canopy on any new project where construction is happening right next to the sidewalk.
Larger projects will also have to submit parking plans for their workers, establishing a place for construction workers to park their cars so that local residents won’t have to take extra risks by parking much farther from their work or home. Contractors will also have to show how pedestrians, bikes, and scooters will navigate their project site and the area around it.
Along Federal, Public Works has made significant improvements. The pavement was replaced by concrete curbs, streets, and gutters. A raised, landscaped median was installed to improve mobility. New sidewalks offer better access to light rail and bus stops, new crosswalks are intended to make pedestrians easier to see, and the timing of several lights has been altered to give pedestrians a head start before cars are allowed to go.
In other areas of the city, pedestrian crosswalks are being enhanced with plastic bollards, colored paint, and islands so that seniors and handicapped pedestrians, who often have trouble crossing in the time they’re allotted, have a place to wait for another gap in traffic.
What to Do if You’re Injured
First things first: take what steps you can to ensure that you’re not injured in the first place:
- Don’t wear dark clothes at night, wear lighter colors and try to find a jacket or backpack with something reflective on it. If you walk at night a lot, consider a cheap LED light to clip onto yourself so that you can be seen more easily.
- Walk on the sidewalk. If you’re ever forced to walk in the street, walk on the side facing into traffic.
- Don’t text or look down at your phone while crossing the street. You might have the right of way in a crosswalk, but some drivers will disregard that or simply not notice you.
- Don’t assume that drivers can see you. If you can make eye contact with drivers before you step into the street, it’ll help you communicate. A little wave or a nod can help a lot too.
If you are injured as a pedestrian, don’t hesitate to contact a personal injury attorney. There can be lasting complications from injuries and damages that don’t appear right away.
At Mintz Law Firm, personal injury is all we do. We’re focused on one thing and one thing only: making sure that you’re fairly compensated for any injury you sustain. If you’ve been involved in an accident, contact Mintz Law Firm today. We’ll offer a free consultation of your case and let you know how to proceed.