Transportation

Denver Traffic Fatalities Map: Where More Than Fifty Tragedies Happened

The aftermath of a deadly September 7 hit and run near the intersection of Arkins Court and 29th Street.
CBS4 Denver via YouTube
The aftermath of a deadly September 7 hit and run near the intersection of Arkins Court and 29th Street.
The City of Denver's Vision Zero, launched in 2017, was originally described as a five-year action plan with the goal of "eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries by making our roadways safer for everyone." But a year from the deadline, Denver is a long way from accomplishing this mission. So far in 2021, more than fifty people have died during Mile High City traffic accidents involving cars, bicycles and scooters.

Four of the fatal crashes happened during a six-day span this month, including a September 7 hit-and-run near the intersection of Arkins Court and 29th Street; 43-year-old Kathleen Sugaski was arrested on suspicion of vehicular homicide.

The death toll frustrates Brad Evans, founder of the Denver Cruisers bike rides and a longtime traffic safety advocate. "The thing I constantly call Vision Zero is 'Zero Vision,'" Evans says. "Denver isn't taking the strides it needs to to keep the streets safe — not just for bikes, but for everyone."

This past spring, Denver Streets Partnership gave Denver a mediocre B- score for the infrastructure-related steps taken over the previous year. Among the positive moves emphasized by DSP director Jill Locantore were the city's efforts to increase safety on two of the city's most heavily traveled routes, East Colfax Avenue and Santa Fe Drive. But she was frustrated by Denver's failure to build twenty miles of sidewalks (only six miles were completed) and the unmet objective of installing so-called "Smart City" technology at fifteen intersections (data collection devices were put in place, but her organization maintains that there have been "no operational improvements").


Evans has particularly harsh words for protected bike lanes that feel temporary rather than permanent. "A plastic bollard isn't going to save anybody — it's not going to protect a bike from getting hit by a car," he says. "The city has spent a lot of money and has a plan for bikes and parks and people. But it's still a disconnected bowl of spaghetti."

On September 16, the Denver Police Department provided Westword with its latest list of traffic fatalities for the year: 54 through September 8. The Vision Zero website lists 55 fatalities, including a death on September 14 that has yet to make the DPD's final roster.

Of the 54 fatalities on the DPD roster, three involved scooters — two characterized as "electric stand-up" devices and one dubbed "low-powered" — probably a non-motorized, Razor-type item. Accidents involving scooters have been escalating (the DPD tweeted about one on September 10 that resulted in serious injuries), and Evans worries that this trend will continue. "The street infrastructure isn't made for that mode," he says. "There are holes in the pavement, there are curbs that aren't cut right. A quarter of an inch can be the difference between being fine and wiping out if you're not prepared for it, and people can die."

Two bicycle fatalities are included on the list, while ten were pedestrians struck by vehicles. The rest of the fatal crashes involved automobiles either smashing into other cars, rolling over or striking what the DPD categorizes as a "fixed object."


Four of these crashes — on January 1, June 22, July 22 and September 5 — will not be counted by the Colorado Department of Transportation as traffic fatalities because of reporting protocols established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System. But these technicalities don't make their outcomes any less deadly.

Vision Zero's name is clearly aspirational, but with the plan's fifth year coming in 2022, the city has shifted the goalposts; its website now states that Denver is shooting for "zero fatalities and serious injuries by 2030." That doesn't satisfy Evans. "The Vision Zero program has the right intent, but I think Denver's implementation of it is just fucking frosting," he says. "They didn't bake the cake."

The map below shows the 54 fatalities listed by the Denver Police Department for 2021 through September 8. Click on each pin to see the date, address and details about the incident, including whether criminal charges have been filed. The same information is also listed below, in chronological order. We're not naming any of the victims, to protect the privacy of their families.
1. 01/01/21
1400 Blk N Elati St
Electric Stand-up Scooter/Fixed Object

2. 01/07/21
N Fox St & W 38th Ave
Auto/Rollover

3. 01/16/21
1300 Blk S Federal Blvd
Pedestrian/Auto
Hit and Run

4. 01/21/21
1600 Blk S Monaco St Pkwy
Auto/Fixed Object

5. 01/23/21
N Broadway & W Speer Blvd
Auto/Auto

6. 01/23/21
N Broadway & W Speer Blvd
Auto/Auto

7. 02/03/21
EB I-70 & Quebec St
Auto/Auto
Charges: Careless Driving w/Death

8. 02/08/21
E Hampden Ave & S Akron St
Pedestrian/Auto

9. 02/12/21
W Evans Ave & S Zuni St
Auto/Auto
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

10. 02/15/21
NB I-25 & W 8th Ave
Auto/Rollover

11. 02/16/21
3200 Blk W 44th Ave
Auto/Auto
Charges: Careless Driving w/Death

12. 03/05/21
Morrison Rd & W Kentucky Ave
Auto/Pedestrian
Charges: Hit & Run w/Death

13. 03/23/21
NB I-25 & NB I225
Auto

14. 04/01/21
1400 Blk N Race-Vine Alley
Pedestrian/Auto

15. 04/03/21
Lawrence St & 18th St
Auto/Auto
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

16. 04/10/21
W 32nd Ave & N Lowell Blvd
Auto/Auto
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

17. 04/11/21
2000 Blk N Speer Blvd
Auto/Fixed Object

18. 04/12/21
700 Blk N Corona-Downing Alley
Auto/Fixed Object

19. 04/07/21
Park Ave West & Wewatta St
Auto/Fixed Object

20. 04/24/21
4500 Blk W 26th Ave
Auto/Fixed Object

21. 05/07/21
WB I-70 & N Sheridan Blvd
Motorcycle/Fixed Object

22. 05/08/21
700 Blk S Lincoln St
Auto/Fixed Object

23. 05/17/21
N Central Park Blvd & E 35th Ave
Motorcycle/Auto

24. 05/22/21
5000 Blk N Federal Blvd
Pedestrian/Auto

25. 05/23/21
NB I-25 & 20th St
Motorcycle/Auto

26. 06/06/21
WB I-70 & N Brighton Blvd
Motorcycle/Auto

27. 06/07/21
NB I-25 & 20th St
Auto/Pedestrian
Hit and Run

28. 05/26/21
E Florida Ave & S Hudson St
Auto/Auto

29. 06/12/21
1700 Blk N Monaco St
Auto/Fixed Object

30. 06/12/21
1700 Blk N Monaco St
Auto/Fixed Object

31. 06/14/21
Park Ave West & Court Pl
Auto/Pedestrian
Hit and Run

32. 06/18/21
5000 Blk E Evans Ave
Auto/Pedestrian
Hit and Run

33. 06/21/21
W Florida Ave & S Osage St
Motorcycle/Auto

34. 06/24/21
7100 Blk E Evans Ave
Auto/Fixed Object
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

35. 06/29/21
N Quentin St & E 51st Ave
Auto/Motorcycle
Charges: Careless Driving w/Death

36. 07/05/21
WB I-70 & Central Park Blvd
Auto/Rollover

37. 06/29/21
10100 Blk MLK Blvd
Auto/Auto

38. 07/22/21
W Evans Ave & S Acoma St
Bicycle/Fixed Object

39. 07/26/21
1000 Blk W 6th Ave
Auto/Auto
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

40. 07/29/21
2600 Blk S Sheridan Blvd
Auto/Auto

41. 07/29/21
2600 Blk S Sheridan Blvd
Auto/Auto

42. 07/30/21
2300 Blk N Syracuse St
Auto/Fixed Object

43. 08/08/21
2200 Blk E Buchtel Blvd
Auto/Motorcycle
Charges: Careless Driving w/Death

44. 08/19/21
W 17th Ave & N Irving St
Auto/Auto

45. 08/24/21
100 Blk W Colfax Ave
Motorcycle/Fixed Object

46. 08/27/21
E 56th Ave & N Ireland St
Motorcycle/Auto

47. 08/27/21
11700 Blk E MLK Blvd
Motorcycle/Auto

48. 08/28/21
1800 Blk E Evans Ave
Auto/Low Power Scooter
Hit and Run

49. 08/30/21
1000 Blk S Raritan St
Auto/Pedestrian
Charges: Careless Driving w/Death

50. 06/22/21
E 40th Ave & N Colorado Blvd
Electric Stand-up Scooter/Auto

51. 09/02/21
E 6th Ave & N Downing St
Auto/Auto
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

52. 09/05/21
3900 Blk W 10th Ave
Bicycle/Fixed Object

53. 09/07/21
Arkins Ct & 29th St
Auto/Pedestrian
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

54. 09/08/21
1700 Blk E 46th Ave
Auto/Auto