Pedestrians standing around on Denver's 16th Street Mall.

(Photo: iStockphoto.com)
Denver is one of the nation’s most health-conscious cities. But for Denver residents looking to get their exercise on foot, the city may not be the easiest place to strap on their shoes and go.

According to a recent roundup of the walkability of various U.S. cities, Denver ranked well below even notoriously car-reliant cities like Los Angeles.

These numbers concern urban planners and local pedestrians alike. To fix the problem, grassroots organizations, extreme walkers and even architects are joining forces and working with the city government to make Denver more pedestrian-friendly.

Gosia Kung  is a Denver-based architect and urban planner whose organization WalkDenver advocates for a pedestrian-friendly environment. The organization has recently launched an app called WALKscope, which allows residents and visitors to collect data about where sidewalks are available and the safety of various intersections. According to WalkDenver, "This information will help create an inventory of pedestrian infrastructure in Denver, identify gaps and build the case for improvements."
 

Jonathon Stalls is the founder of Walk2Connect, a group that organizes walking tours throughout the Colorado Front Range. He is also an extreme walker himself: In 2010, he and his dog walked across the entire United States from Lewes, Del., to San Francisco.

On May 10, Walk2Connect and the Stapleton Transportation Management Association will host their second-annual NE Walk Fest through the northeast neighborhoods of Denver. It's a community-based event designed to raise awareness of pedestrian issues.

As nonprofit organizations and walking enthusiasts work with city government to make Denver a haven for pedestrians, they also hope to inspire even the laziest couch potatoes to ditch the car and hit the streets.