Denver, CO

Councilmembers paint the town with ‘Slow down, Denver’

David Heitz

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Councilmember Amanda Sawyer had these signs made up reminding motorists to slow down.Councilmember Amanda Sawyer's office

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Slow down, Denver.

It’s a message some City Council members want you to hear even if residents must post placards screaming it all over town.

Councilmember Amanda Sawyer recently posted on Facebook that she’s giving away free “Slow Down” signs. She’s paying for the signs out of the budget allotted for her district.

Councilmember Chris Hinds has had signs made, too. “Drive like your dog lives here,” they suggest. Hinds’ District 10 is one of the most hazardous for pedestrians, cyclists, and people in wheelchairs, according to city statistics.

But all of Denver needs to slow down, council members say and statistics show.

Kashmann starts sign trend

Councilmember Paul Kashmann started the sign craze several years ago. “I have passed out probably 1,000 ‘DRIVE 25’ signs since I’ve been in office,” said Kashmann, who sponsored an ordinance last year passed by council to reduce speeds on unlined streets from 25 mph to 20 mph.

Do the signs work? Yes, for some people, Kashmann believes. “They serve as a good reminder for folks who care. Those who don’t give a damn will continue to ignore any safety suggestions.”

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Councilmember Chris Hinds is among at least three council members who had signs printed reminding residents to slow down.City and County of Denver

Sawyer filling orders for constituents

Sawyer said the free signs have proven extremely popular. She currently is filling orders from constituents.

“We designed them as a reminder for drivers that our streets are inclusive places used by many different residents for many different purposes so, please slow down,” she said. “We’ve had a great response. Over the past two years, we have given out over 600 signs to residents.”

Sawyer noted that some homeowners associations in her Council District 5 may not allow the signs. Residents should check with their HOAs before posting.

Online dashboard tracks deaths, injuries

Denver tallies traffic deaths almost in real time on an online dashboard. There have been 45 traffic deaths in Denver so far this year as of July 26. That includes people dying in cars, walking, riding motorcycles, cycling, and riding scooters, according to the dashboard. There have been 185 accidents resulting in serious bodily injury.

By comparison, there were 84 deaths in all of 2021 and 381 accidents with serious injury.

In 2019, 57 fatalities and 305 serious injuries occurred from accidents.

The dashboard does not specify how many accidents were speed- or alcohol-related. However, in the Vision Zero plan the city profiles a young boy killed by a drunken driver.

The dashboard includes a map with a dot for every accident in the city involving a death or serious injury. Accidents occur frequently in all areas of Denver, but especially in the Central City.

Sweden inspires Denver plan

The dashboard is part of the City Council’s Vision Zero Initiative. Sweden inspired Denver’s plan for having zero traffic deaths by 2030.

“Sweden has reduced traffic fatalities by half, making it one of the safest places in the world,” according to the Vision Zero website. “Vision Zero recognizes that humans make mistakes, and therefore the transportation system should be designed to minimize the consequences of those errors.” 

Traffic fatalities continue to rise

Although traffic accidents and fatalities have trended up since adoption of the Vision Zero plan in 2017, Denver’s council believes the city can do better.

“We simply do not have to accept fatal crashes as inevitable,” the city states in its Call to Action for Vision Zero. “Crashes are not accidents; with the right actions and commitment, they are preventable. Everyone has the right to safely travel on our streets no matter where they are going and how they travel.”

And everyone has the right to remind motorists to slow down, even by placing placards all over the city.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO
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