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A ghost bike in Denver honoring a cyclist killed at the intersection of West Bayaud Avenue and South Tejon Street. Photo: AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver is leveraging smart technology to improve safety for bikers and pedestrians.

Why it matters: The investment in tech could position the city as a national leader in safety innovation and move it closer to achieving the goal of ending all traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.

  • Ten pedestrians were killed in Denver last year, city data shows, and at least one pedestrian has died in a crash this year.

Driving the news: Denver will become the first U.S. city to launch a study using "smart" bike light technology to improve cyclist safety, the Downtown Denver Partnership announced last week.

  • The study will be conducted by See.Sense, a U.K.-based cycling tech company whose bike lights have sensors that can detect behavior like severe braking and swerving, helping identify where Denver cyclists experience challenges such as rough pavement or close calls with drivers.
  • The data will be gathered over a year from 300 volunteers, and findings will help officials improve "safety, connectivity and equity," according to the downtown business advocacy group.

What they’re saying: "There's truth to the saying, 'what gets measured gets done,'" said Jill Locantore, head of Denver Streets Partnership, a coalition of community groups advocating for people-friendly streets.

  • "They've also made a concerted effort to recruit a diversity of people who bike, which will help inform the design of bike [systems] that are safe and comfortable for all kinds of people," she told Axios.

What else: Denver’s transportation department is deploying artificial intelligence to improve street safety, particularly for pedestrians using crosswalks.

  • New technology is being tested at certain high-trafficked crosswalks that can detect pedestrians and keep a red light from turning green until they finish crossing.
  • Eventually, city engineers hope the signals could also send a message to vehicles to alert drivers, Denverite reports.

Baseline data is currently being collected from four intersections: Green Valley Ranch Boulevard and Walden Street; 29th Street and Galena Street; Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Galena Street; and Morrison Road and Raleigh Street.

  • 17 other locations are under consideration, an agency spokesperson tells Axios.
Expand chart
Data: City of Denver; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The big picture: City planners across the country are working on ways to make crosswalks safer, as they become a growing site of preventable deaths — often with distracted driving to blame, writes Axios’ Jennifer Kingston.

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Go deeper

Apr 26, 2021 - Technology

Self-driving cars speed forward while safety rules lag

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The U.S. has taken a hands-off approach to regulating self-driving cars, hoping to help the market thrive — but that approach could ultimately backfire, if it helps sow doubt about the technology's safety.

Driving the news: The U.S. auto safety agency is investigating 28 crashes of Tesla vehicles. And with no clear rules or accountability, these incidents risk undermining public confidence in a technology that's supposed to help the U.S. keep its global competitive edge.

1 hour ago - Health

Biden reaches agreements with Uber and Lyft to give free rides to vaccine sites

A coronavirus vaccination site in Miami on May 10. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Biden administration has reached agreements with ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft to offer free rides to coronavirus vaccination sites through July 4, the White House announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The free rides, starting in the next two weeks, are part of the Biden administration's push to administer at least one vaccine dose to 70% of U.S. adults by Independence Day.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Biden officials green-light nation's first big offshore wind project

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration today gave final approval to Vineyard Wind, a project off the Massachusetts coast slated to be the country's first large-scale offshore wind farm.

Why it matters: While the green-light for the long-proposed projected was expected, it marks a key step in White House plans to help spur development of a suite of coastal projects off New York, New Jersey and other states.

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