Denver art project meant to calm traffic

Council members sponsored project to promote Vision Zero

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On the lawn of Civic Center Park, Councilmember Deborah Ortega held up a colorful piece of thin metal that had been cut to look like a person during a pop-up art event. A number of the metal cutouts lay on plastic tarps around her, ready to be painted for an art installation going in on Federal Boulevard.

The project is meant to help calm traffic on Federal, which was recognized as a high-injury network. A high-injury network is where 5 percent of the streets account for about 50 percent of pedestrian fatalities in Denver, according to the city’s Vision Zero Action Plan. Colfax Avenue and Colorado Boulevard are two of the other streets in the network. Vision Zero is a plan that was put together by the city to reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and deaths.

“Community members along Federal Boulevard have long expressed anxiety about the safety of this thoroughfare through their neighborhoods. Our project elevates this voice and serves as a visual cue to drivers to slow down for the people who call this place home,” Ortega said in a news release. “This is the most dangerous stretch of road in Denver and I am focused on connecting the goals of Vision Zero with changes along Federal Boulevard that are led by the community.”

The art installation was sponsored by Ortega, Councilmember Rafael Espinoza, as well as Vision Zero and the Community Active Living Coalition (CALC). Ortega is a councilmember at large, and represents the city as a whole. Espinoza represents District 1, which is in northwest Denver and includes neighborhoods such as Sloans Lake, Sunnyside and West Colfax. CALC is a community organization that promotes healthy and active living.

Several pop-up events were held around Denver for people to come and paint the cut-out silhouettes. The last one was on Election Day, Nov. 6, at Civic Center Park.

The silhouettes will be installed at West 14th Avenue and Federal Boulevard this month. The art installation will stay up for 18 months.The pieces are painted on both sides so they can be seen from traffic in either direction.

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