Denver mayor wants commuters to stop driving to work by themselves

DENVER -- It is arguably the mayor's biggest speech every year --- the State of the City.

This year, a heavy emphasis was placed on transportation and reforming the traditional ways commuters think about going to work.

"I know many of you relish the days when it took 15 minutes to drive anywhere in Denver," Mayor Michael Hancock said to a packed crowd at the Hiawatha Davis Recreation Center on Monday.

Hancock is proposing a plan to reduce the number of people who commute to work by themselves by car.

"Seventy-three percent of Denver commuters drive to and from work in cars by themselves. By 2030, our goal is 50 percent," Hancock said.

So how will Hancock convince people to ditch the car for the carpool?

For starters, nearly 200 miles worth of new bike lanes over the next several years as well as new bus-only lanes on major streets.

But increasing parking rates might also be on the table.

"I think everything that is related to automobile travel in the city or mobility in the city is on the table," Hancock said.

Many business owners question the mayor's philosophy.

"No parking, no customers," said Ron Tarvard, who owns a coffee shop and a distillery on Broadway.

Tarvard said his business is down 5 percent to 6 percent each month since the protected bike lane was installed on Broadway.

"He's too far into the future. I like bikes, but this is not Amsterdam or China," Tarvard said.

Hancock said a different mobility strategy is the key to keeping Denver relevant.