There is a frightening trend that is happening in Denver, Colorado. Hit-and-run accidents between motorists, pedestrians and cyclists are increasing at an alarming rate.
It’s not surprising that auto and bicycle accidents are increasing in the city of Denver, because the Mile High City has more bike lanes than most cities in the nation. Denver also has a large population of Millennials who live within biking distance of the downtown area where they work. But the alarming trend is that motorists are running after the accidents occur.
In a recent article in the Denver Post, even though Denver and state leaders spend millions of dollars on pedestrian and cyclist safety, the number of collisions continues to grow. Even worse, more and more drivers are leaving the scene of such accidents at an alarming rate. The rate at which hit-and-run cases involving pedestrians have increased is frightening for those who walk and ride their bikes to work. These hit-and-run cases have nearly quadrupled in the last four years.
A recent example involves a 30 year old Denver teacher Erin Jackson, who is scheduled to appear in court today to face sentencing for a hit-and-run. The hit-and-run occurred in February and gravely injured 16-year-old Deyondrah Bridgeman near East High School.
The trend seems to growing as about one in every four auto-pedestrian collisions in Denver is a hit-and-run, according to Denver police. Nationally, that figure is about one in five. Denver had 100 hit-and-run cases involving pedestrians from Jan. 1 to Aug. 17, compared with 28 during that same period in 2009, police said.
As we know, passing legislation and spending more money won’t persuade drivers to stay when someone gets hurt. "There's only so many tickets you can write, only so many lines you can put on the streets," said Amber Miller, spokeswoman for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who has made cyclist and pedestrian safety a top priority. "It has to be the community embracing a culture of looking out for their own safety and the safety of others."
Denver has already spent millions on safety elements such as wider, reflective crosswalk stripes and crossing lights that tell pedestrians how much time they have to get across. Despite the investments, the number of collisions and hit-and-run incidents continues to rise.
Over the past decades, Colorado has even passed several new laws, including stiffening penalties for hit-and-run drivers, increasing the points on driver's licenses for careless driving resulting in death and instituting a 3-foot buffer between bicycles and motor vehicles. But this has not helped.
The issue is not why we see more auto pedestrian/bicycle accidents. This writer is wondering why motorists would not stop after they hit and injured a pedestrian or bicyclist? Is there a bigger issue going on in our city and culture?