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Safe Streets Boulder Implementation: Toward Vision Zero


The 2014 Transportation Master Plan (TMP) pdf provides the policy guidance for the city’s annual work program and investment priorities in support of the Boulder community’s multimodal transportation and sustainability goals. 

The City of Boulder seeks to provide a safe and efficient transportation system for people using all modes of travel. Transportation safety is a top priority for the city. “Toward Vision Zero” (TVZ) efforts seek to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries traffic crashes through a data driven, interdisciplinary approach to improving safety across the city’s transportation system through education, enforcement, engineering, and evaluation. In 2018, $3.1M is allocated across the respective budgets of the Boulder Police Department and Public Works/Transportation Department to support TVZ.

Status and Next Steps 

In 2016, the City released the second edition of its Safe Streets Boulder Report (SSBR). This report included location specific engineering, enforcement and education mitigation for implementation as well as recommendations on education and enforcement to address city wide trends. The engineering treatments recommended in the report have all been installed. These include green pavement markings to warn of bicycle conflict at right turn and left turn movements; signs and pavement markings at right turn bypass island crosswalks; heads up decals on the access ramps at high conflict crosswalks; and upgrades to traffic signal displays which allow for the use of flashing yellow and red arrow displays. Enforcement and educational efforts have taken place through the Heads-Up Campaign targeting safer crosswalk interactions.

In the 2017 budget, City Council allocated an additional $150,000 to TVZ implementation. Staff has been using this funding to identify additional crash trend locations and installing additional green pavement markings at potential bicycle conflict points and additional traffic signal displays which allow for flexible traffic signal timing strategies.

The City of Boulder’s traffic signals have historically been operated and periodically adjusted using federal standards and industry best practices with a goal of maintaining an efficient and safe roadway system. In 2017, city staff began documenting traffic signal operations to ensure alignment with TMP goals. This work effort is planned for completion in 2018 and further adjustments to traffic signal operations are anticipated.

Travel safety is a fundamental consideration for all transportation-related work undertaken in the City of Boulder. Crash data is compiled and reviewed for city projects and in response to concerns raised by members of the public and other city staff. Crash data is used to shape short-term and long-term mitigation. As an example, the review of crash data along the east Arapahoe corridor (conducted as part of the East Arapahoe Complete Streets project) has led to both new signing to restrict right turns and changes in traffic signal operations. It also informed the development of the long-term infrastructure alternatives for the complete streets project. Similar evaluations have historically led to larger scale, federally funded safety projects such as the improvements at South Broadway and Grinnell Avenue; improvements at the intersection of Folsom Avenue and Spruce Avenue; and most recently for the new traffic signal at Valmont
Road and 29th Street.

In 2018, the city will evaluate crash trends for the last three years (2015, 2016, 2017) and will generate the third version of the SSBR. One of the components of this report will be an evaluation of the engineering, education and enforcement treatments implemented previously. Successful mitigation will be considered for broader use in the community while less effective mitigation will be considered for modification. It is anticipated that the combination of the SSBR results and the work on the city’s traffic signal practices will result in additional signing and pavement marking installation (including new green pavement markings); and additional traffic signal modifications including potential reconstruction of traffic signal infrastructure to support more robust signal displays and signing.

Council Action 

  • Fourth Quarter 2017: City Council Study Session, as part of the Transportation Master Plan Implementation progress update
  • Second Quarter 2018: City Council Information Packet – Safe Streets Boulder: Toward Vision Zero Status Update
  • Third Quarter 2018: City Council Study Session, as part of the Transportation Master Plan Implementation progress update
  • Fourth Quarter 2018: City Council Information Packet – Safe Streets Boulder: Toward Vision Zero Status Update


Michael Gardner-Sweeney, Director of Public Works for Transportation, [email protected] or 303-441-3162.

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