In last month’s e-letter, we covered the details of the Let’s Co, Colorado campaign (Proposition 110) and now want to discuss why LiveWell is supporting this proposition. As the campaign gains momentum and goes full steam ahead toward Election Day, November 6, 2018, LiveWell continues to work alongside the campaign to educate and work towards its passage. The campaign’s new television commercial does a great job of laying out the need for additional, sustainable transportation dollars. The last time the gas tax (our current transportation funding source) was increased was 1991. Since then, our population has boomed, cars have become more efficient, and the value of a dollar has decreased by 56%. Put all that together and the state has about half the money it did in 1991 to address transportation needs. This has resulted in a backlog of $9 billion in transportation projects across Colorado.
But LiveWell’s interest goes far beyond the need to address this backlog. There is a real cost to our crumbling transportation system that disproportionately impacts low-income residents and communities of color, sadly seen in statistics regarding pedestrian deaths. According to Smart Growth America’s report, Dangerous by Design, people of color are less likely to own a personal vehicle, increasing their likelihood of walking. Poor neighborhoods and communities of color also have some of the most dangerous pedestrian infrastructure. In 2014, 34.9 percent of the United States population identified as non-white or Hispanic, yet these groups accounted for 46.1 percent of all pedestrian deaths between 2005 and 2014. Even after controlling for the relative amounts of walking among these populations, risks continue to be higher for some people of color and older adults—indicating that these people most likely face disproportionately unsafe conditions for walking.
Unfortunately, the statistics for Colorado are not any better than the national averages. Colorado’s non-white population is 28.2 percent of the total population. However, pedestrian deaths for non-white people is 44.1 percent. Pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people for whites is 0.72. For non-whites it doubles to 1.4. Clearly, Colorado has a real issue with providing safe pedestrian infrastructure for people of color. In LiveWell’s estimation, one of the ways we can begin to address this inequity is by passing Proposition 110 and bringing a stable transportation funding source, that includes specific dollars for walk and bike infrastructure, to Colorado. Should Proposition 110 pass at the ballot, we will then turn our attention to working to support low income and communities of color to advocate for improvements in their neighborhoods, improving access to safe transportation for those who do not own personal vehicles.