Leslie envisions a Denver in which car ownership is not a prerequisite to getting a job or getting around. Leslie will ensure our city has safe, convenient, affordable transportation options for everyone that lives here, so that those who want to bus, bike, or walk can choose to do so.Many residents will still have cars and use them, within an efficient transportation system that is shared equitably with other modes of transportation. Creating balanced options will benefit our economy, reduce pollution, increase safety, and help ensure that our city is fair for everyone that lives here.
To ensure that pedestrians can move around easily and safely, we must make sidewalks at least as accessible and convenient as roadways. By passing the “Denver Deserves Sidewalks” initiative last November, Denver voters showed that they favor improved sidewalks, and provided the funding for the necessary work. Leslie will prioritize rapid implementation of the initiative, starting in low-income neighborhoods that are typically the areas with the worst sidewalks and ensuring that our infrastructure works for people with disabilities. Further, Leslie will direct the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure to prioritize intersection safety improvements to make them more convenient for people who are walking and rolling, and to make our sidewalks safe for people of all ages.
Bicycling is another important part of Denver’s transportation future, and increasing options for people who bike can reduce vehicle trips, especially for the majority of short trips in the city. Like walking, bicycling contributes almost no greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere and carries significant health benefits. In different parts of the city, 3% to nearly 10% of people already choose bicycling for their trips, and many more would do so if road infrastructure was better designed for their safety. More people taking more trips has created more road conflicts, though, and Denver needs to improve safe roadway spaces for all modes of transportation. Leslie favors upgrading the cycling and micromobility infrastructure by emphasizing greater physical separation between bikes and motor vehicles, while also ensuring that bike lanes, whether separate or otherwise, are a priority for snow and ice removal. Leslie also favors expansion of other public and private infrastructure that support cyclists, especially ample, secure bike parking both on and off street.
Leslie will ensure high quality, high-comfort bicycling options through a next generation city bike plan and adoption of elements of the VAMOS plan and other community-informed improvements. In addition, Leslie will prioritize getting protected bike lanes on key arterial roadways. Denver is ready for infrastructure that is human-focused, equitable, and accessible.
RTD is Denver’s principal transit provider. It is governed independently of the City, but the City still has influence over it, because RTD needs city assistance and cooperation to support most of its work. As mayor, Leslie will press RTD to improve the convenience, reliability and affordability of its service, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods and for second and third shift workers. This will require a combination of more frequent service and longer hours of service on many routes, creation of some new routes, and increased flexibility of transit vehicle types to reach the hard-to-serve, such as those with personal mobility challenges. The key to increasing public transit ridership is improving reliability of service, meaning we need buses to arrive every 15 minutes, and bus stops within a 5 minute walk wherever you are in the city. RTD also needs to increase both the actual safety of RTD passengers and their perception of safety while waiting for and using transit.
Leslie will look for creative ways for the City to provide more resources to RTD, and she will join with RTD in seeking increased resources from the federal and state governments. Finally, we need to expand on new and successful solutions, like the Montbello Connector Program, that offers free pick up and transport services within Montbello to other neighborhoods across the city.
According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, in 2019, the last year before the Covid pandemic, 67% of Denver workers drove alone to work. Two years later, only 53.5% were driving alone to work. The big difference was a huge surge in people working remotely – nearly one-third of workers in 2021. This change is the largest single factor affecting the transportation system in Denver, not only because it reduces drivers, but also because it reduces those using transit and cuts into RTD revenues. It has other important impacts, such as office vacancies downtown and increased weekday energy consumption in residential neighborhoods.
Denver lacks a strategic plan for addressing this surge in remote work. That will change when Leslie is mayor. Leslie is committed to pursuing Denver’s 2030 goal to reduce driving alone to 50% of the workforce. In fact, Denver nearly got there nine years early in 2021, thanks to the surge of remote working. As mayor Leslie will bring together the numerous constituencies with major concerns about these issues – employers, workers, property owners, management companies, and neighborhood organizations – to develop a comprehensive city program for adapting the transportation system to a work environment in which remote work plays a major part.
In 2016 Denver made a pledge to reduce deaths from vehicular crashes to zero. In 2017 Denver released its plan for doing so. But Denver’s Vision Zero efforts have not been successful. In 2016, 61 people died from crashes in Denver. By 2021 that number had increased to 84 and was still at 82 in 2022. That means more than one person a week is killed in traffic-related accidents. This is unacceptable, but solvable. Denver can do better and will get it from Mayor Leslie Herod. She will direct a comprehensive update of Denver’s Vision Zero Plan, incorporating the practices that have succeeded in other cities. Leslie will direct accelerated implementation of the strategies in the existing plan that would have given us safe streets if they had been implemented in full and on time. It’s time to speed up implementation of the 2017 plan while developing a new plan that reflects the latest best practices from the cities that are getting Vision Zero right.
Bike lanes, road diets, and intersection improvements can provide safer and more convenient conditions, but they are not enough. Speed limits and traffic signal operations also have important roles. As Mayor, Leslie will direct a reconsideration of speed limits and traffic signal operations to share the travel clock more equitably. As called for in the Vision Zero plan, speed limits will be lowered to reduce the risk of death and injury to pedestrians and cyclists, and road design will be altered over time to make the design reflect the speed limits. At the same time, traffic signal operation will be reconfigured to provide more “green waves” to cyclists, and to provide pedestrians with a greater share of the crossing time. Leslie will also expand the deployment of pedestrian-controlled crosswalks.
Transportation is a system. It’s not about one mode, or one vehicle type, or one fuel type. It’s about strategic integration of all of them together. This means there is no one solution that solves all the mobility, pollution, and climate change problems arising from transportation at once. In addition, transportation and land use are fundamentally interdependent, and need to be managed as integrated, codependent systems. That’s how Mayor Herod will approach transportation and land use management. She will recruit transportation and land use agency leaders who understand the interdependencies between the two and have demonstrated success in managing them jointly.
Denverites often like to venture beyond Denver. Travel options around Colorado are controlled primarily by the state government, but as in many other areas, Denver has a voice. As mayor, Leslie will work with other Front Range communities to expand some of the developing options like Bustang and the seasonal Snow Train. She will also seek expansion of rail service – both up to the mountains, beyond the single train Denver currently gets each day, and also along the Front Range between Fort Collins and Pueblo, where we have no passenger trains at all. Leslie believes that, just as you shouldn’t need to have a car if you want to have a job, you also shouldn’t need to have a car if you want to have fun.
RTD is the Regional Transportation District - it’s designed to connect regions, not neighborhoods. We need a transit system that is connected, accessible, and affordable - and that gets us where we want to go. Leslie will collaborate with state and local transportation leaders and experts to create a local transit option that serves the city.