INC Transportation Committee: NO MEETING IN JULY & Meeting Notes from May 12th 2016

Do you have suggestions for future topics for the INC Transportation Committee? Please send them to co-chairs Geneva Hooten and Joel Noble at transportation@denverinc.org!
In this edition:

No Meeting in July

The INC Transportation Committee will not be meeting in July 2016. We’ll be back on our regular schedule in September.

We instead encourage you to join WalkDenver’s annual event, the I Walk Colfax Gala on Thursday, July 14th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Abend Gallery (2260 E. Colfax Ave.).  This is a fundraising event for one of INC’s closest partners on several of our Transportation Platform priorities, including INC’s decade-long push for a better way to fund sidewalk installation and maintenance, and advocating for Vision Zero — a comprehensive data-driven approach to road safety to achieve zero traffic deaths and serious injuries. Tickets for the event are available online.

Have you seen the painted utility boxes dressing up East Colfax Avenue between Lincoln and Josephine? Vote for your favorite in the Art on the Ave website this weekend. The winners will be announced at the I Walk Colfax Gala event, with awards for the top three “people’s choice” selections.
INC Transportation Committee Meeting Notes – May 12th, 2016
by Geneva Hooten and Joel Noble

RTD Update

We began the meeting with a presentation by David Genova, the newly-selected CEO and General Manager of the Regional Transportation District (RTD). The committee congratulated him on his new role, which he has been performing on an interim basis since his predecessor’s departure, while a nation-wide search was undertaken to select RTD’s new leader.

FasTracks topics featured as first part of the presentation, as this highly-visible program is in a big year, with five major services opening — the Flatiron Flyer bus service between Denver and Boulder (opened in January), the “University of Colorado A Line” commuter rail train between Union Station and Denver International Airport (opened in April), the B commuter rail line between Denver and Westminster (opening July 25th), the G commuter rail line between Denver and Wheat Ridge (opening this fall), and the R light rail line connecting Nine Mile station to I-70 along I-225 (opening this Winter). The first phase of the N commuter rail line north through Commerce City, Thornton and Northglenn will open in 2018.

In addition to an update on the progress of each project, David also reminded us of the significant economic boost the projects have provided, with approximately 14,000 full-time jobs created since FasTracks began in 2005, the $2 billion in private development that has been attracted to the Union Station area, and an overall estimate of $4 of activity stimulated in the local economy for every $1 spent in transit infrastructure investment.

As our committee has been in close contact with RTD over the past few years, David was impressed to hear that we were familiar with the significant upgrades beginning at Civic Center Station. This complete overhaul of the station is largely funded by federal State of Good Repair monies, and will bring this dark and old-style local transit hub up to the same design quality as Union Station.

RTD’s new focus on mobile applications and web features were also reviewed, with an announcement that regional bus and light rail real-time transit information will be added to the local bus real-time information available since the beginning of the year. The need for systems integration puts the real-time information for commuter rail trains on schedule for next year.

A generous time for questions was provided, which our committee took full advantage of — from new ideas for transit maps to “what’s next after FasTracks?”, INC’s interest in having great transit in the community was very apparent.

Congratulations, once again, to David Genova for his selection as the new head of RTD!  His slides are available. Check out the FasTracks website to stay up to date on the upcoming openings in 2016 and progress on the remaining rail projects.

Denver’s New Pedestrian Crossing Guidelines – Michael Koslow and Riley LaMie, Denver Public Works

Transportation Engineer Michael Koslow and Associate City Planner Riley LaMie presented the city’s new Pedestrian Crossing Guidelines, a policy document to guide city planners and engineers in determining where and how to improve uncontrolled pedestrian crossings across the city. When a specific location is being considered for a crosswalk treatment – due to neighborhood input, a new development, or staff recommendation – the Pedestrian Crossing Guidelines will lend consistency and transparency in determining an appropriate treatment, if any.

This is the first time that the city has developed a consistent methodology for unmarked crossings and it’s a crucial first step in developing a more practical, reliable, and predictable transportation environment for pedestrians and other roadway users.

What should neighbors expect out of the new guidelines? Denver is embracing Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacons (RRFB) and the Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons/Signals (known as the High-Intensity Activated crossWalK, or HAWK signals), both of which add better visibility and are appropriate for higher speed, higher volume street.

Included in the document is a handy flowchart to help determine if a marked crosswalk is appropriate. If so, the “Crosswalk Treatment Guide” section contains a table that serves as a guide in identifying any enhanced treatments that are recommended for that location. This table uses traffic volumes, posted speeds, and the number of travel lanes. For example, if a location is appropriate for a marked crosswalk and it’s a three-lane road with a posted speed of 40 MPH and average traffic of 7,500 vehicles a day, a HAWK signal is required. (In fact, Brighton Boulevard will boast the city’s first HAWK signal!)

How will these guidelines work for neighbors? Do you have an intersection in your neighborhood that’s a problem? These guidelines can help you work with City staff to determine the best solutions. The guidelines also help the city in becoming more proactive as they apply them to candidate locations. Over the next year, staff will work to Integrate this plan with the Denver Moves: Pedestrians and Trails Plan as well as the further planning and implementation for the neighborhood bikeway projects which emphasize intersection improvements.

Additionally, these guidelines were recently applied to the Colfax Avenue and Steele Street signal rebuild and will be applied to the Garfield Street Neighborhood Bikeway project as part of the Denver Moves: Bikes program.

Thank you for Michael Koslow and Riley LaMie for presenting! They have graciously made their presentation materials available to us. You can find the final approved Pedestrian Crossing Guidelines document on their website.
Integrating Health and Transportation

Denver’s Department of Environmental Health has been hard at work integrating the idea of “Health in All Policies” throughout the City. Kayla Gilbert, the Active Living Program Manager, provided an overview of their Safe Routes to School work. Following the League of American Bicyclist’s Five E’s, the essential elements that make places great for biking, Kayla outlined how the Active Living Program is making Denver a healthier place:

  • Education: bike classes for kids via the Safe Routes to School program
  • Encouragement: Bike to School Day, Walk to School Day
  • Engineering: supporting infrastructure improvements to make it safer, more efficient, and more intuitive to walk and bike.
  • Enforcement: collaborating with Denver Police to deploy speed cameras near schools.
  • Evaluation: counting walk and bike rates, school interviews, and parent surveys.

In 2015, the Department of Environmental Health started the Community Active Living Coalition (CALC), a group of 300 community members to critically evaluate how the built environment (sidewalks,crossings, access to trails, etc.) affect community health. The CALC is advocating for system and policy change to build more accessible and safe spaces to walk, bike, live, and play.

The CALC is working collaboratively on projects to improve Safe Routes to School. Gretchen Armijo, the Built Environment Administrator, outlined a recent mapping project in which walk audits and student density data for schools in high-need areas were brought together in simple maps to show exactly where poor sidewalks and high student populations overlap. These maps show where the city should prioritize sidewalk installation and other pedestrian-focused improvements like crosswalks and traffic calming.

They’d next like to create two-page reports for every school in Denver with Safe Routes maps. Gretchen and the team will continue community outreach to empower school staff, parents,students to advocate for and use Safe Routes not just to schools, but parks, rec centers, libraries, and other important destinations. Ultimately, Gretchen wants to strengthen Environmental Health and Public Works partnership to leverage grants and resources to create safe routes across the city.

This work should build a strong network of active transportation advocates while ensuring that schools are prioritized for infrastructure improvements, particularly in high-need areas. Ultimately, all Denver residents should be able to safely choose active transportation over single occupancy vehicle trips for their daily commutes to school or work.

We look forward to supporting the Department of Environmental Health’s efforts and, of course, getting more people walking and biking in Denver!
Kayla Gilbert and Gretchen Armijo are doing great work in the Department of Environmental Health, and their presentation engaged the audience with their practical and data-driven approach to safety. Their presentation materials are available here.

Upcoming Meeting Schedule
The INC Transportation Committee’s meetings in 2016 will be at 1201 Williams St., 19th Floor:

  • Thu. Sept. 8th, 6-8 p.m.
  • Thu. Nov. 10th, 6-8 p.m.

Many thanks to Michael Henry for the wonderful meeting space!

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