(Note: the full, complete findings can be found in this post– A Decade of Crashes Along Colorado Boulevard )
The initiative Take Back The Boulevard, which seeks to calm traffic and produce a safe, pleasant atmosphere along Colorado Boulevard has received a bit of backlash in the local newspaper Boulevard Sentinel. While it would seem efforts to make a street safer and more pleasant is hardly something to oppose, there are concerns that the initiative may result in a ‘traffic nightmare’, be bad for local businesses, or even make the street less safe.
Much of this opposition relies on anecdotal observations and speculation about how traffic operates with few facts and little evidence. As a supporter of the efforts to calm traffic on Colorado Boulevard I want to make the case to support the initiative with real facts, evidence, and bringing to light the perspective of vulnerable street users (pedestrians, and cyclists).
One of the first places I’ve gone to for information is the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) where one can request crash information. The idea to calm traffic along Colorado Boulevard did not come out of nowhere, there are compelling reasons to do so and part of it is that Colorado is simply unsafe.
I recently received records from SWITRS and in the year 2000 alone there were 42 crashes along Eagle Rock’s bit of Colorado Boulevard, with 84 people (drivers, passengers, bicyclists, pedestrians) involved and resulting in 56 injuries. 11 of these crashes occurred directly adjacent to freeway entrance/exit ramps (10 crashes by the 2 freeway and 1 crash by the 134 freeway). Five crashes occurred at the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Ellenwood Drive, this was the most number of crashes along any single intersection. Seven crashes occurred on Colorado Boulevard between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Townsend Avenue, the part of Colorado which is frequently identified as ‘downtown Eagle Rock’.
Here’s a map showing all the crash sites along Colorado Boulevard for the year 2000….
As for the cause of these crashes, failure to yield right-of-way contributed to 11 of the crashes and unsafe speeding was the primary cause in 10 cases. Together these factors caused half of the recorded crashes in the year 2000.
These issues can be minimized through engineering and Take Back The Boulevard seeks to, among other things, re-engineer the street so that it is safer. As one can notice, the poor engineering along Colorado means that unfortunately the year 2000 was not the only dangerous year for Colorado. As neighboring blog Bipediality has shared, between 2005 and 2009 crashes occurred at the equivalent of once a week for those five years. People may like to speed and behave as though Colorado Boulevard is a mini freeway, but this behavior is exactly what is making our major main street so dangerous.
I look forward to sharing more facts about Colorado Boulevard, particularly more data from SWITRS, but hopefully these preliminary findings are partially convincing enough to support this unique opportunity to make Colorado Boulevard a safe and inviting street that properly reflects our otherwise friendly, connected community.