Listen: Friends and advocates honor a senior pedestrian activist who got Denver moving on sidewalks

Listen Now
3min 12sec

Phyllis Mack’s friends memorialized her the best way they knew how. 

The group of about 10 walked and rolled from the public housing tower in Ruby Hill where Mack lived to a nearby park last week, bumping over narrow sidewalks and across a busy thoroughfare.

The destination was Huston Lake Park, a leafy spot where Mack, who was 76 and used a wheelchair, loved to bring other Walsh Manor residents for lunches and scavenger hunts via foot and wheel. Her friend Jonathan Stalls, a pedestrian advocate and author, said those afternoon trips motivated Mack to blossom into a street safety advocate late in her life.

“It turned on a lot of light bulbs for her,” Stalls said as the group reached the park. “Residents … were like, ‘This is the first time I’ve ever been to this park, and I’ve lived in that building for 15 years.’”

Mack wanted her friends at Walsh Manor, which is home to seniors and people with disabilities, to be able to move safely around their city. And she took that message to public officials, joining them on bone-chilling walks designed to viscerally show them how broken Denver’s transportation systems are for people who do not drive.

Her most pressing concern was the sorry state of the sidewalks near Walsh Manor, which are so narrow Mack and other residents often have to use the street instead. But she never thought about leaving her neighborhood.

“Why should I have to move? They should fix the sidewalks,” she told CPR News in 2022. 

Read the full story on Denverite.