This post was contributed by Camron Bridgford, Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at UC Denver and member of the 2017-18 Etkin Johnson Student Scholar Cohort. Read more about Camron below or on our website.
This complex status of Denver’s transportation, traffic congestion and mobility challenges was the topic of ULI Colorado’s Oct. 11 TOD, Making the Link: The Future of Mobility. The evening hosted two separate panels to discuss how Denver is filling in the gaps left by RTD’s FastTracks with intra-city mobility.
Moderated by Chris Nevitt, citywide manager for transit-oriented development for the City and County of Denver, the event’s first panel, which discussed current city innovation in transportation and mobility, included Crissy Fanganello, director of transportation and mobility, and Ryan Billings, senior city planner, of the City and County of Denver; Jeff Shoemaker, executive director of The Greenway Foundation; and Ben Holland, senior associate at the Rocky Mountain Institute.
Fanganello adeptly provided a snapshot of where Denver is today—and where it desires to go—in terms of local transportation’s most pressing issues, highlighting the key notion that Denver must be focused on moving more people, not vehicles, to achieve its goals of efficient and connected mobility.
Chief among concerns as Denver grows is increasing congestion; a rise in crashes that disproportionately injure or kill bicyclists and pedestrians; increased air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions; and deteriorating infrastructure that fractures first and last mile connections. Compounding the city’s transportation woes is the arrival of 150,000 daily commuters using Denver’s roads, sidewalks and transit systems.
The vision for the future of Denver’s mobility system is lofty, but benchmarks that Fanganello notes are already being met by other cities. By 2030, the City of Denver wants to see zero traffic-related deaths; single-occupancy vehicle commuters reduced from 73% to 50%; and increases in bike, pedestrian and transit commuters by 15%, respectively, among other goals. Together, achieving these targets will help Denver meet the vision of having a safe, reliable, accessible, affordable and convenient mobility system.
Additional panelists further detailed innovations related to increasing mobility freedom, including the progress on Colfax Corridor Connections, which envisions center-running bus rapid transit for a 10-mile stretch of East Colfax; the contribution of revitalized greenways to reconnecting local neighborhood communities; and the work of the Rocky Mountain Institute, which sees mobility as a service that’s electronic, autonomous and operating in cities designed for these advancements.
To complement this big-picture framework, the event also featured a second panel of five speakers that discussed local undertakings that applied lessons learned in transit, mobility and alternative transportation. These projects—which cover significant geographic area in the Denver-metro, from River North, to Colfax Avenue, to the City of Lone Tree—illustrate how transportation innovations in the local community can greatly improve commuter-experienced efficiency, reliability, and ultimately, mobility.
Developments and improvements presented included the Lone Tree Link, a first and last mile business circulator; Urban Land Conservancy’s efforts on the 303 Artway, a nine-mile pedestrian and bike route in low-income Northeast Park Hill; the revitalization of East Colfax from Colorado to Yosemite into a “transit village”; and Revolution360, a new development in River North that seeks to link land uses and transit with the public realm utilizing a European model of multi-modal streets.
The diversity of information and expertise at Making the Link: The Future of Mobility reflected the notion that improved mobility and connectivity not only benefits the individual commuter, but is an integral part to developing a more livable city for the entire community.
Camron Bridgford is a master’s candidate in urban and regional planning at the University of Colorado Denver, a current Urban Land Institute Etkin Johnson Student Scholar, and a freelance journalist that specializes in writing about urban and city planning-related issues.