City Sees Significant Drop in Traffic Volumes, Crashes During Coronavirus Pandemic


The coronavirus pandemic has changed life in many ways, from how we spend time with friends and family to how we work.

As the below findings show, it has also impacted travel patterns in our community. The city has seen a significant drop in both traffic volumes and crashes since the pandemic began.

Vehicular travel declines 

Since March 2020, vehicular travel in Boulder has declined significantly, with the biggest decrease in April, when the city was under a Stay-At-Home order and traffic volumes dropped 56% from their level in April 2019.

The pace of declines for vehicular travel overall in the city has slowed since the summer, with a 19% decrease in traffic in October compared to the same month in 2019.

And as a result of the decrease in vehicles on the road, the city has also seen a reduction in vehicle-emitted greenhouse gases.

Bicycle travel changes 

There have also been changes in bicycle travel volumes. Bicycle travel on the 13th Street Neighborhood GreenStreet section north of Walnut Street has been an average of 50% lower each month since March compared to monthly volumes in 2019.

Bicycle travel on the U.S. 36 bikeway south of Table Mesa, however, increased between March and May, with its largest gain in April, when bicycle travel on this route rose 55% compared to 2019.    

Significant drop in traffic crashes

The city has also seen a significant reduction in the number of traffic crashes this year, including crashes that are classified as “severe,” meaning they resulted in serious injuries or fatalities.

Total crashes in Boulder have declined by 45% in 2020 compared to 2019, while severe crashes have declined by 30% through the end of October. Both total and severe crashes were down by more than 70% in April and May. Though the reductions in severe crashes were smaller over the summer following an increase in June, severe crashes were down 67% in August and 88% in September.

The city monitors severe crashes as part of our Vision Zero commitment to reduce the number of severe crashes in Boulder to zero.

As we move through fall and into winter, with shorter daylight hours and snowfall, the city reminds community members to be alert and travel safely to help protect our community and reduce demand on local hospitals.

“Most severe crashes involve vulnerable users such as pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists,” said city Transportation Engineer Mike Sweeney. “It’s important that we practice safe driving, bicycling and walking practices – being attentive, never driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, complying with traffic signals and stop signs, following speed limits and yielding. Creating a safe street system is all of our responsibility.”

Click image to enlarge.

Coronavirus Travel and Crash Trends Data Chart















View City of Boulder Coronavirus travel and crash trends graph

Learn more about Vision Zero and how you can help keep our streets safe.

Note on data sources: Vehicular traffic counts were derived from nine continuous count stations distributed across the city. Data on traffic crashes comes from the City of Boulder’s Transportation & Mobility Department database, which is derived from the Boulder Police Department’s Record Management System. The system uses officer-reported crash data, which is collected when a police officer completes a Colorado State Traffic Accident Report form.

Published: Nov. 15, 2020

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