On May 15th, 2019, the Denver Vision Zero Coalition gathered with community members, advocates, and politicians to commemorate the lives that have been lost to traffic crashes on our streets in Denver, and bring attention to the human toll of dangerous street design that prioritizes speed over safety. Below is a poem written in reflection of leading the walking portion of the event.
Walk of Silence
by Kayla Gilbert
I led the walk of silence -
45 people walking a mile of Denver streets
To honor 88 victims of traffic crashes since January of 2018.
88 people who were parents, children, siblings, lovers, friends.
88 people lost.
88 people dead.
Passersby walking by us
Nod quietly in thanks or appreciation
Upon reading the signs in our hands
Of one of those 88 people
Who was killed
in a preventable traffic crash on Denver's streets.
Maybe they recognized a name,
Or knew someone else who was hurt or killed
Just trying to get around.
Leading a walk is more than getting folks from A to B.
It's also making sure everyone gets there safely.
For us walking leaders,
That means bravely walking first into traffic,
Standing between the heavy idling vehicles
And the vulnerable people behind me,
Walking in the crosswalk
(Their legal right of way),
Often waving a greeting of thanks.
Sometimes a hand outstretched --
Begging, hoping, crying out, “STOP!”
It's a sad, ironic, but totally necessary role
For this walk of silence.
Keeping these 45 people safe
While I can.
Thinking about the 88 people
That I couldn't help.
If I could have held a sign to stop traffic for them,
I would have.
If you could have stopped it,
Would you have slowed down?
Would you have not driven while drunk?
Would you have waited to respond to that text?
Would your have told your friend to put their seatbelt on?
Would you have stopped at the yellow light?
If you could have,
Would you have?
You still can.
Before it's too late.