Pedestrian safety a hot topic in Capitol Hill and across Denver

Posted at 7:03 PM, Jun 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-15 21:22:51-04

DENVER -- We all know Denver is a boom town, which means more people, more cars, more bikes and pedestrians, so it should come as no surprise that safety in busy areas like Capitol Hill is a hot button issue.

"A lot of people that go fast, a lot of people talking on their cell phones," said biker Shaun Swistak.

Swistak rides his bike every day, and knows firsthand the dangers of riding in Denver.

"Lady came into my lane, forced me onto the sidewalk and I hit the curb and had about 307 stitches and staples in my head," he explained.

Councilman Wayne New who represents District 2, which includes Cap Hill and Colfax Avenue, said the city is working to try and reduce speeds on busy one ways like 13th and 14th Avenues, and public works said it is considering putting in speed trailers to warn drivers how fast their going.

"We're doing everything we can to provide a safer crossing for pedestrians as well as just reducing fatality," said Councilman New. "It's always scary, it scares me personally every time I drive down 13th and 14th and a bicyclist is on the road."

According to data provided in Denver's 2017 budget, in the last two years more than 100 people lost their lives on Denver roads, and there were more than 600 crashes where pedestrians or cyclists were seriously injured.

Another trouble spot is the five-point intersection at Colfax Ave. and Franklin St. which doesn't allow drivers to turn right on green, drivers must wait for a green arrow to go right at Park Ave.

"(This intersection is) in the top three of dangerous intersections in Denver," explained Frank Locantore, the executive director of the Colfax Business Improvement District.

The city plans to use the GoBond to fund $29 million in pedestrian safety improvements over the next ten years, but bikers like Swistak said something's got to give -- and soon.

"We have to pay attention a lot more than drivers do it seems like," said Swistak.

As for any permanent improvements on 13th and 14th Aves., Denver Public Works said it has studied the area for the past year and did not identify a high number of crashes. It is aware of the challenges on these stretches of road, but said right now it is not on the top of the list for improvements.