Streets are the largest amount of public space in any city. Long before private cars became the dominant form of transportation, streets were not just spaces to get from place to place – they were the place. Transportation was still a crucial function of the street: you could walk, catch a streetcar, ride a bicycle, make a delivery, and yes, drive. But streets were also the place you could chat with your neighbor, do your grocery shopping, grab a bite to eat, or let your kids play. As these activities got pushed to the margins of the public street and into private property, the idea of how streets should function – and how you could access them – narrowed drastically.
Anyone who has traveled in Denver over the last few years know that most of our streets are not exactly living up to their potential. Denverites are stuck in traffic, facing serious safety risks, breathing in polluted air, and losing valuable opportunities for connection. A key factor holding our city back from achieving its mobility, safety, and sustainability goals is outdated street design standards that prioritize the movement of cars over the health and well-being of people.