We live much of our lives on Denver’s streets. Streets are not just the connectors and throughways that knit together our metropolis, they are also places unto themselves. Trees live alongside our streets. We walk along our sidewalks sometimes with a destination in mind and sometimes just to enjoy the outdoors. For disabled people, children, and others who don’t drive, sidewalks and bike lanes are often the only means to get around. Streetcars once crisscrossed the city on Denver’s streets, connecting Belcaro with Highland, Five Points with Sloan’s Lake, and Hilltop with Overland. While streets can seem mundane, they are a complex ecosystem that can enhance - or degrade - our quality of life. Having worked in neighborhoods for most of my career, I’ve seen how good streets improve a community, and how bad streets disrupt daily life. Fixing Denver’s streets is about more than filling potholes. As your Mayor, I will:
· Green our streets. As I outlined in my plan to Turn the City Green, we will add to our tree canopy by restarting the Mile High Million plan. Streets should be green ribbons through our neighborhoods, not just concrete slabs. As the Queen City of the Plains, we should also celebrate our beautiful native species of trees and grasses to reinforce a sense of place. Let’s not just pave our streets - let’s plant them too.
· A Place for Pedestrians. As our city densifies, it’s becoming even more critical that we accommodate people, and not just cars, on our streets. Wider sidewalks and complete sidewalk networks make walking enjoyable while narrow sidewalks and missing segments prevent all but the most determined pedestrians from getting around. Combined with smart land use planning, frequent transit, good building design, and green spaces, a robust sidewalk network becomes an inviting means to travel through our city.
· A Place for Bicycles. Smart cities plan for bicycle commuters because it reduces car dependency, reduces pollution, and offers an active and healthy mobility option. Denver has historically built bike lanes in a haphazard fashion, with lanes now often existing in isolation. We will prioritize connecting the network of separated bike lanes so that cyclists don’t have to mix with traffic as they travel between streets with bike lanes.
· Streets for All. Streets, along with parks, should be the most democratic spaces in our city. Fast moving traffic, broken sidewalks, and long crosswalks are reflective of skewed priorities. It took a Federal settlement last year to motivate Denver to add curb ramps to sidewalks – a basic necessity for families walking with strollers and wheelchair users. Healthy street design requires empathy for people with diverse needs. Our children and grandparents should be as comfortable on our streets as commuters, and I will ensure that, as our streets are improved, they will be built to be used by all.