Responses to Move Colorado’s Denver Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire from Mike Johnston

Move Colorado Policy Principle #1: Colorado’s state and local transportation system must be adequately funded. 

  • Do you believe the current transportation system is adequately funded?


  • What are your priorities within transportation during the next 4 years?

As Mayor, I will invest in RTD to ensure it is more reliable and accessible. I will also accelerate the progress Denver is making towards multimodal transportation, including by following through on with Denver Moves, which will make our streets safer as a result. And I will also work to implement a complete citywide sidewalk network to the specifications and requirements of the Denver Deserves Sidewalks initiative, and if possible, I will work to accelerate the timeline for implementation.

  • What is your approach to using innovative financing tools for our transportation system?

We should always be open to options that can help us deliver improvements to our transportation system, and the key question when evaluating any option will be whether it provides enough benefit for the city and its residents to justify any trade-offs (such as asset ownership, revenue collection, or other proposals). With governments able to access better borrowing rates than many private entities and local match dollars potentially unlocking Bipartisan Infrastructure Law dollars, innovative tools also need to be compared against other options that might be newly available.

One example of an innovative funding proposal is my plan to work collaboratively with our business community to buy EcoPasses at a similar rate at which they were purchased two years ago, and I will work collaboratively with RTD so that the newly recovered revenue is used to increase the reliability of service for all commuters.


Move Colorado Policy Principle #2: Colorado’s transportation system is – and should be – all modes working together.

  • How do you define a balanced transportation system?

A balanced system offers every Denver resident and visitor genuine transportation choices wherever they are, so that every person can pick the way to get around that makes the most sense for the trip they need to take. Denver has made strides in becoming a more bike and pedestrian-friendly city in recent years. But we must do more to offer a complete set of multimodal options that give people true choices.

  • What elements of the transportation system will be your top priority in the next 4 years?
  1. Make RTD better for commuters, children, and seniors. Taking public transportation in Denver is expensive. So when the “Zero Fare for Better Air” campaign increased RTD ridership significantly last August, it provided promising insight into how lowering the cost of public transportation can benefit our community. The State is exploring ways to expand upon the Zero Fare program, and RTD has been taking commendable steps in the same direction. As Mayor, I’ll make the city a true partner with RTD in order to increase rider safety and reliability of routes so that public transportation becomes a more attractive option, which can help boost ridership, reduce traffic, and better our city’s impact on the environment. I’ll also work to make RTD free for riders under the age of 20 and over the age of 65.
  2. Expand Denver’s bike and pedestrian infrastructure. Denver has made strides in becoming a more bike and pedestrian-friendly city in recent years. Still, fewer than 10% of all Denverites commute by biking or walking, a number that must change if we want to decrease our carbon footprint. As Mayor, I will accelerate the progress Denver is making towards multimodal transportation, which will make our streets safer as a result. And I will also work to implement a complete citywide sidewalk network to the specifications and requirements of the Denver Deserves Sidewalks initiative, and if possible, I will work to accelerate the timeline for implementation.
  • What elements of our transportation system will be a top priority in the long term?

The goals I outlined above will need sustained commitment to reach their full potential and achieve our shared vision of a truly multimodal system that helps meet our climate goals. For example, once we are able to work with the business community to increase EcoPass purchases and restore ridership, I plan to build on this idea and work with RTD to reinvest these new revenues in enhanced service for riders. With the reinvestment of this revenue back into RTD, we can—for instance—make key lines like the 15 and 15L free, reduce the number of routes where service is infrequent and unreliable, or take other measures that increase ridership and reduce the number of car commuters in our city. This relationship is cyclical: a more reliable RTD system will increase the revenue generated through multi-use passes.

Another example is my commitment to follow through with Denver Moves. In 2019, the city developed Denver Moves, a comprehensive vision for Denver’s bike and pedestrian infrastructure, which was developed with robust community input. But Denver has frequently strayed from executing the Denver Moves plan as written, delaying and even canceling planned projects. As Mayor, I will commit to executing Denver Moves—and expanding upon it to build more high-comfort, dedicated bike lanes—to ensure that our city follows through on the ambitious promises it’s made.


Move Colorado Policy Principle #3: Colorado’s transportation system must embrace sustainability, environmental stewardship, and resilience.

  • As Mayor of Denver how will you balance sustainability, environmental stewardship, and system resiliency while ensuring economic productivity through the movement of goods and services?

One of the reasons improving RTD is the first plank of my transportation and climate plan is that a strong transit system improves sustainability, supports environmental stewardship, makes the transportation system more resilient for most users, and moves people with the efficiency we need to support greater economic productivity. Stronger transit usage and more multimodal commuting can also reduce traffic pressure on the street network, which has downstream benefits for trips that cannot shift their modes. Goods deliveries and service calls are prominent examples of the downstream economic activity that can benefit.

We can continue to offer more options and balance these complementary goals by continuing Denver’s e-bike rebate program, which has been a smashing success. Of surveyed participants, 71% reported using their gas vehicles less often, and 29% were new to bike riding entirely. The e-bike program was very successful in reducing the number of vehicle trips in our city, and as Mayor, I will ensure the program continues.

Moving faster and further on electrification is another priority that can support this balance. Electric vehicle adoption will not only save the city enormous costs in fuel and maintenance, it will improve Denver’s air quality. As Mayor, every new light-weight vehicle purchased by the city will be electric by 2025 unless granted an exception personally approved by me.


Move Colorado Policy Principle #4: Technology is rapidly advancing and will be a key driver in the future of Colorado’s transportation system.

  • What is your vision for how technology can improve our transportation needs?

Technology’s most important advancements are those critical steps that unlock the practical improvements that help people get around more easily and safely. Connected vehicle developments have been underway for several years now, and the work to make data collection cheaper and more widely available means that those practical benefits are within our grasp. This can be as simple as a better app to tell you exactly when the next bus will arrive–a real improvement if we are going to get people to trust transit as a reliable choice.

Similarly, the development of EVs is well-known by now, but critical next steps in the technology’s progress include breaking through into the heavy-duty fleet, where we can replace diesel vehicles that often have to idle to operate currently. And solid-state battery technology can both improve EV range and significantly reduce vehicle weight. This is especially important for reducing wear and tear on roads but more importantly for mitigating the safety concerns surrounding heavier vehicles in all types of crashes.