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Debate over solutions for Denver sidewalks front and center once again

Posted at 5:49 PM, Sep 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-27 20:46:57-04

DENVER -- During a walking tour of Denver sidewalks on Monday, one of the participants pulled out a jump rope to illustrate just how narrow the walkway is, because, she says, if you can't jump rope than someone in a wheelchair won't be able to get through either.

"We’re just not getting enough funding for pedestrian infrastructure," said Shelley McMullen with Mayor Michael Hancock's Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

McMullen joined Denver Councilman Jolon Clark and other citizens as they toured the Baker neighborhood. After the group crossed W. Alameda Ave. and headed toward a residential area, they encountered uneven flagstone sidewalks. As the group continued on towards the bridge over Interstate 25, they found disjointed and narrow sidewalks which made it hard to navigate such a busy area.

"As much as I would like to say hey here’s our one strategy and that solves sidewalks, I think it’s going to take multiple strategies," said Clark.

Clark said he is working with other council members and the administration to come up with a new strategy. He hopes to announce that strategy soon. He also added that the sidewalk program unveiled in 2018 which centers on enforcement is simply not working.

"I think the first attempt at a sidewalk repair program was to do more enforcement but to also offer financial incentives and backup for people who really couldn’t afford it, and that did not work well either," said Clark.

The issues highlighted on the walking tour with the Denver Streets Partnership are also being featured on another platform and gaining a lot of traction.

Jonathon Stalls started making short video diaries showing problems related to sidewalks and access. He said a 14-year-old girl encouraged him to post the clips on TikTok. Now, he has more than 62,000 followers, but Stalls said what's most rewarding is some of his viewers are contacting their council members to push for better solutions.

You can find Stalls on TikTok under the username pedestriandignity. Be sure to check out the video he made with Denver7 that pointed out where sidewalks end near the Central Park Station, a regional bus and rail station that's heavily used.

"Pointing out where there’s gaps in infrastructure in terms of specifically sidewalks, but also everything from lighting, shelters, benches and bus stops," said Stalls. "I’m really trying to just help people feel it."