DENVER (CBS4) – Denver city leaders joined federal officials from different transportation agencies to highlight their partnership working together to improve the roads for those who travel by car or any other method. However, Mayor Michael Hancock acknowledged the number of deaths so far this year show that Denver is not heading in the right direction.
“It’s the responsibility of all of us on the streets,” he said. “2019 was not a good year for that but we’re not going to stop.”
The mayor mentioned several factors contributing to that figure including speeding, drivers who are distracted, aggressive, or impaired, as well as people not wearing a seat belt in a car.
As of Nov. 25, there have been 67 traffic deaths in the city, ahead of the total for all of 2018, 61 deaths. The trend line over eight years going back to 2011 is up with the number of people killed doubling in that time.
“Everyone has to play their role in keeping everyone safe,” Hancock said. “We’re finding more and more distracted drivers, and we’ve got more people using our streets.”
The mayor said not only are more people using the city’s roads with each new year, but different modes of transportation are adding to the challenge. More people have died in 2019 from a traffic-related injury who were traveling on foot, by bike, or a motorcycle than a car.
“The reality is it is not going to improve until the public, motorists, bicyclists, scooters, pedestrians, everyone exercises better, more careful traversing of the streets,” Hancock said. “It’s on all of us, is the point I’m making.”
Representatives from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Transit Administration, and the Federal Highway Administration mentioned the different steps they are taking to improve safety on roads in conjunction with local leaders; reducing speed limits, creating bike lanes, and special training for Denver Police officers in their traffic division.
Those national agencies reported the number of deadly crashes went down nationally, but pedestrians and cyclists killed increased.
CDOT, Denver Public Works and Denver police were also at the event bringing awareness to Vision Zero, an initiative launched by the city in 2017 to identify the changes needed to bring down the number of traffic deaths.
“So when will we get the numbers to go down and get closer to zero?” CBS4 asked.
“That’s a great question, that’s a question for all of us to answer,” Hancock said.