Denver Streets for People 2019 Recap
Updated: Jul 7, 2020
On Thursday, April 11th, 2019, Denver CALC hosted the 2019 Denver Streets for People Summit, in partnership with the City of Denver and Denver Streets Partnership. The event was a free, bilingual event for community members, partners and organizations. With over 160 attendees, 40 volunteers and 50 expert speakers, the event was a success! Participants had a chance to network, share knowledge, and inspire action towards safe, active, and healthy neighborhoods in Denver. The summit engaged Denverites in a dialogue about how to make our streets safer and more fun for people walking, biking, rolling, or taking transit.
Special thanks go out to all of our volunteers, speakers, and sponsors for this event. Sponsors included Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE), Denver Public Works, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), American Planning Association (Colorado Chapter), the Commons on Champa, Radian, Car2Go, Regis University, AARP, Colorado Athletic Club - Union Station, Denver B-Cycle, Bike Shop Girl Family Cyclery, and Stunt Time HD.
TINY TOWN, A DEMONSTRATION OF STREETS FOR PEOPLE
Thanks to Radian and Car2Go for organizing the Tiny Town Expo, a demonstration of Streets for People, and all of the exhibitors that participated! The expo showed real-life demonstrations of how folks across the city are working to make our streets safer and more fun for people walking, biking, rolling, or taking transit. Even though inclement weather kept us from holding the expo outside, The expo Tiny Town was a walk-thru pop-up town with a little bike lane, seating and canopies, public art, housing, and more - all in about 450 square feet! Within the Tiny Town, exhibitors demonstrated and talked to attendees about scooters, books, e-bikes, and more.
OH, THE PLACES WE’VE GONE
GENEVA HOOTEN, CDOT
Geneva Hooten’s opening presentation gave a light-hearted but comprehensive overview of the progress Denver has made towards multimodal transportation in the last five years. Starting with a snapshot of where the city was in 2013, she cataloged progress on a timeline, including large infrastructure projects such as Market Street Station, Civic Center Station, and Union Station terminal, expanded RTD services (A, R, B, and W lines, FlatIron Flyer, Bustang), car and ride-sharing options, the introduction of scooter and other electric mobility devices, and increased attention and dedicated funding to expanding and improving walking and biking connectivity secured during this period, including the city’s recent goal to build 125 miles of bike lanes in the next five years. Hooten noted the rising traffic fatality rate over the last few years and the importance of fulfilling the city’s commitment to Vision Zero, and ended with a call to action to stay engaged, celebrate success, and call on our city to keep moving forward for safe, healthy transportation for all.
STREETS: THE ULTIMATE UNTAPPED URBAN RESOURCE
CORINNE KISNER, NACTO
NACTO Executive Director Corinne Kisner presented an overview of transportation design and healthy communities, giving a national scan of what planning and organizations like NACTO are doing to address transportation issues. After defining the public health need for safe streets, noting the rising fatality rate on US Streets, Kisner reviewed the concepts of complete streets, planning for all modes, and the benefits of people-centered design to public health, the function of public places, and overall city functioning, providing examples of these improvements from cities around the continent. In the words of Japanese home organizer Marie Kondo, Kisner challenged the audience to focus on what “sparks joy” in our public places, and begin to let go of old, dangerous design standards that no longer serve the public. She ended with examples of both citizen-led and city-sanctioned tactical urbanism projects as ways to test out and quickly implement street design projects iteratively, while evaluating outcomes in traffic speeds, travel times, and public health impacts along the way.
THE STATE OF BIKING IN DENVER
JAMES WADDELL, BIKEDENVER
In "The State of Biking," James from BikeDenver shared some updates about what’s going on in Denver around biking. Each individual has their own “State of Biking” when they choose to ride (or not ride), and it depends upon what route they have to take on any given day. As you can imagine, that right now that can vary wildly from person to person, and thus, a "Citywide stamp of approval" isn't appropriate for our current bike network while some people still don’t have access or feel safe biking in our city. Government agencies, advocates, and other partners are still working to expedite a safe, connected network for all.
OFFICE HOUR WITH THE CITY
VARIOUS AGENCIES OF THE CITY OF DENVER
Over a dozen city staff came out to staff an “office hour” for attendees to ask questions, interact with city staff, and learn how to engage with ongoing and upcoming city projects and better understand how requests are made, what requests can be made, and who handles various different projects within Denver Public Works. Folks could ask about upcoming city projects or how to access resources for their business or community, including - how do businesses request bike parking? How sidewalks are repaired? How does Denver keep our trails safe?
THE REVOLUTION IS HAPPENING, AND IT’S NOT ABOUT AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES
JOSH MEHLEM, APEX DESIGN (MODERATOR)
JEN HILLHOUSE, DENVER PUBLIC WORKS
NICK WILLIAMS, DENVER PUBLIC WORKS
MICHAEL WASHINGTON, RTD
In discussions about the future of transportation, a lot of attention is focused on the potential for autonomous vehicles, a technology that may still be decades away from widespread deployment. But revolutionary change is happening right now, thanks to innovative thinking about relatively "low-tech" modes of transportation, including buses, scooters, e-bikes, and cargo bikes. This session focused on exciting new trends in transit and micro-mobility across the country and right here in Denver. Attendees heard about Denver's pilot program for motorized scooters and e-bikes, improvements to our transit system coming very soon, and emerging opportunities for moving goods around our city without relying solely on large delivery trucks that gobble up street space.
GET IN THE LOOP - COMMUNITY-DRIVEN PLANNING FOR CONNECTION
JAKE HOUSTON, TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND (MODERATOR)
ALANA ROMANS, URBAN LAND CONSERVANCY (303 ARTWAY)
JOHN DESMOND, DOWNTOWN DENVER PARTNERSHIP (5280 LOOP)
MAYRA GONZALES, MONTBELLO ORGANIZING COMMITTEE (MONTBELLO FRESHLO WALKABLE LOOP)
NORMA BRAMBILA, WESTWOOD UNIDOS (WESTWOOD VIA VERDE)
EMILY PATTERSON, TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND (WESTWOOD VIA VERDE)
It’s hard to believe there are four mobility loop projects happening around Denver and we were lucky to have representatives from each in one room to share their vision and progress at the Summit. Mayra Gonzales with Montbello Organizing Committee discussed the Walkable Loop in Montbello which was inspired by residents’ desire for a comfortable and safe place for children to seniors to be active and access parks, schools and gardens. We had resident Norma Brambila from Westwood Unidos and Jake Houston from Trust for Public Land share about their partnership to design the Via Verde loop that will build community connection, highlight culture and provide healthy mobility options for the great number of families and youth in Westwood. The audience loved the opportunity to learn from both Mayra and Norma in their native Spanish language translated by an interpreter. Alana Romans and the Urban Land Conservancy are collaborating with Park Hill on the 303 Artway and Alana emphasized the importance of gathering community input to lead the process and create a mobility loop and art that align with what current residents want to see. Finally, the Downtown Denver Partnership’s John Desmond presented on the more urban 5280 Loop that will offer a safe and interactive route encouraging more people to travel and explore in and around downtown Denver by foot and wheels. While the projects are at different stages, all had in common collaboration and community leadership, prioritizing health and safety on our streets and highlighting strengths in each area of the City.
WHAT ARE STREETS FOR ALL PEOPLE?
CORINNE KISNER, NACTO (MODERATOR)
SELENA PINA, CTC YOUTH COALITION
JAIME LEWIS, COLORADO CROSS DISABILITY COALITION
ROBERTO REY, AARP
ROC LACROSBY, BE WELL BLOCK CAPTAIN PROGRAM
What are safe streets for all? How can we create them together? This session featured several panelists each representing unique stories and perspectives around mobility in Denver, and discussed what needed to happen to include more voices in planning and programming around the city. The conversations concentrated on current mobility resources and challenges, highlighting innovative and human-centered ideas and possibilities around inclusive planning and design, and attendees were encouraged to think about and participate in activities to visualize streets that consider people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.
CONNECTING WITH THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT, A SUNSET WALKING TOUR
MARIA ROSA GALTER, WALK2CONNECT
Our connection with the built environment influences our physical and emotional health. Maria Rosa Galter led a mindful, low stress sunset walking tour around the Commons area in downtown Denver. This walk allowed participants to explore the spaces in downtown Denver and how light influences our engagement with our surroundings. Throughout the walk, participants engaged in activities including a scavenger hunt on the things they saw that were barriers/challenges to walking and/or biking. During this walk participants shared their stories on how streets impact their decisions to get around. This Sunset Walking Tour was a great way for participants to connect with their environment and with each other.
FAST & CURIOUS LIGHTNING SESSIONS: RECLAIMING STREETS FOR PEOPLE
Currently, most of the street space in Denver is designed primarily for cars - to move as many cars as fast as possible and to store parked cars. Yet streets that are designed for people, not cars, can do so much more. Streets can foster business activity, serve as a front yard for residents, and provide a safe place for people to get around without driving, whether on foot, bicycle, or transit. What would Denver’s streets look like if we reclaimed this public space for people? This session highlighted creative ideas from the Denver community on how to reimagine streets for people, right in their own neighborhoods.
HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: THE BIKING NETWORK WE ALL DREAM ABOUT
Avi shared his project, Bike Streets, with us, with a goal to make Denver the most bike-friendly city in America, using a network of low-speed, low-traffic neighborhood streets that appeal to a wider range of cyclists, including the 60% of people who are “interested but concerned.”
DESIGN FOR WALKING AND WHEELING AT WEWATTA AND 15TH
Molly, a planning graduate student, used her own experience and knowledge to offer some options for a redesign of the intersection of Wewatta and 15th. Her options included reshaping the intersection, narrowing the vehicular lanes, adding bike lanes, adjusting signal timing, build curbs and installing red concrete crosswalks.
FEDERAL BOULEVARD PHOTOVOICE PROJECT
Mimoko asked us to answer the question - “How can local governments meaningfully engage residents to not only voice their excitement and worries, but also influence actions which directly impact their daily lives?” Photovoice is one way that Mimoko found to provide a forum for community members of Federal Boulevard, one of Denver's most dangerous arterial streets, to share their perspectives on what makes them feel safe and unsafe.
ONE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Never doubt that you can make a difference in your community! Pam inspired us all with her story of how one person with a strong desire and intent on changing things can be successful. Pam is a 45-year resident of Montbello who fought for improvements and sidewalks that have never existed along Peoria Street at I-70, and hosted walk audits with city and state transportation officials to make that change happen.
PRE-CONFERENCE EVENTS - RESCHEDULED TO AUGUST 1ST
Our mobile bike tour and workshop scheduled for pre-conference events were canceled due to weather, but both events have been rescheduled for August 1st! Participants are invited to join us on August 1st for an in-depth workshop on mobility justice, followed by a mobile bike tour of the planned 5280 Loop in downtown Denver, capped off with a happy hour at Union Station’s Terminal Bar! Participants are welcome to join for all or part of the afternoon and must pre-register here (Early bird tickets only for registrants of original event; opens to general public July 1st).
Thanks again to everyone who joined us for this event. If you weren’t able to attend, we hope that you can join us next year! This event was made possible through funding from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment through the Cancer, Cardiovascular, and Pulmonary Disease (CCPD) grants program.
Session Slides: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1sZuL_CDWYKz-nxo2kl6nJZmXMM59bRUw
Facebook Live videos: https://www.facebook.com/denverHEAL/videos/345235782784837/
Evaluation Report: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VnUHoYC159TkZOJPZww-A3S0UFzJSXLF/view?usp=sharing