Real plans for a vibrant, safe, affordable Denver:
Meeting Denver’s Ambitious Climate Goals

A plan to deliver on Denver’s goal to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2040

When people think of Denver, they think of the outdoors. There is no city in America that can match Denver’s proximity to world-class skiing, mountain biking, climbing, and hiking, among other activities. But that reputation is not always reflected in the city of Denver itself, which lags behind in areas such as public transportation and air quality.1 Denverites should be able to take pride not only in the environment that surrounds our city, but also in our city’s contributions to the environment. That requires an unwavering commitment to climate-aligned, sustainable policies and action to ensure Denver is an equitable, attractive, affordable, and healthy place to live.

In 2020, Denverites voted to raise the local sales and use tax to create the Climate Protection Fund. This unique fund raises over $40 million a year to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, support climate adaptation, and create new jobs.2 We are committing to deliver Denver’s goal to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.3 We have the resources we need to make Denver a national leader on climate. Now we need a mayor with the commitment and plan to execute on these goals.

Here is my plan. As with every part of my policy platform, we know it works and we know how to pay for it.

The Plan

1. Make RTD better for commuters, children, and seniors. Taking public transportation in Denver is expensive.4 So when the “Zero Fare for Better Air” campaign increased RTD ridership significantly last August,5 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,6 and RTD has been taking commendable steps in the same direction.7 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.

  • Work With Businesses and RTD to Restore EcoPass Revenues: The decrease in business-related foot traffic downtown has had an adverse impact on RTD’s budget. Because fewer businesses are subsidizing passes for their employees, RTD now receives almost $10 million less in EcoPass revenue than it did just two years ago.8 As Mayor, I will 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. 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.

2. Electrify our buildings and vehicles. Transportation and buildings are the source of a large chunk of Denver’s greenhouse gas emissions.9 We need to accelerate our emissions reductions through electrifying our buildings and adding on site solar wherever feasible. We must also accelerate our transition towards electric vehicles, and the city can lead by example, starting with its fleet.

  • No new gas in residential construction: New technologies like heat pumps and induction cooktops are better for the environment, and they perform as well or better than older technologies.10 As Mayor, I will ensure that new housing is built without gas hookups, which will have the added benefit of protecting Denverites against the cost fluctuations and spikes we have recently seen with natural gas and improving indoor air quality.
  • Increase energy efficiency in existing buildings: We have many aging residential and industrial buildings that need energy efficiency improvements. In the long-term, those improvements will save the owners money; in the short-term, they will help our environment and create middle-class jobs. I will work to reduce permitting fees and increase the incentives for homeowners, landlords, and businesses to pursue energy efficiency upgrades.
  • Incentivize electric vehicles: 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. I will also work to give priority curb access and visibility to those rental car and rideshare partners who most aggressively pursue electric fleets.

3. 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.11 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.12

  • 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.
  • Continue Denver’s e-bike rebate program: Denver’s e-bike rebate voucher program—in which residents receive between $300 and $1,400 on qualifying e-bikes and e-cargo bikes13—has been a smashing success.14 Of surveyed participants, 71% reported using their gas vehicles less often, and 29% were new to bike riding entirely.15 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.
  • Learn from the Shared Streets program: At the start of the pandemic, Denver barricaded more than seven miles of streets through cheap, light-weight interventions to allow residents to walk and bike more freely. The program was a success because the city moved quickly, gathering feedback after neighbors had the opportunity to experience shared streets. As Mayor, I will lead with pilot programs and demonstration projects such as the Vamos Shared Streets Network, a crowdsourced plan, to increase the number of bike commuters in Denver.16 This will enable us to invest in what works for each neighborhood, rather than simply hoping that large-scale, top-down approaches will have the impact we’d like to see.17

4. Protect our city’s environment and public spaces. Ensuring that Denver remains an attractive, comfortable, and healthy place to live is critical to the enduring vitality of our city. Not only must all Denverites have access to green space, we must provide widespread tree coverage to avoid urban heat islands.18 As Mayor, I will make the city a leader on water conservation, while increasing investment in planting, nurturing, and maintaining trees, as well as programs that encourage homeowners to pursue xeriscaping and reduce their water use.

5. Ensure investments in housing lead to efficient, electric, transit-oriented development. Transportation is one of the main contributors to global carbon emissions, particularly where sprawl increases the need to drive cars.19 That’s why my ambitious plan for housing includes a commitment to ensuring that new development caters to other modes of transportation. By reducing parking mandates and creating gentle density—among other policies—we can move our city away from being as car-centric as it currently is. These changes to our built environment will have an outsized impact on Denver’s sustainability. We also need to ensure our much needed investments in new housing are for electric, efficient buildings that help save residents money on energy costs and align with our climate goals.

The Budget

Increased reliability and service for all
RTD commuters, such as free fare for key lines
or increased frequency of service.
$10 Million$10 million in restored revenue
from Denver businesses
to the EcoPass program.20


  1. See https://www.denverpost.com/2021/08/07/denver-air-pollution-ranking/.
  2. See https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Agencies-Departments-Offices/Agencies-Departments-Offices-Directory/Climate-Action-Sustainability-Resiliency
  3. See https://denvergov.org/files/assets/public/climate-action/cpf_fiveyearplan_final.pdf.
  4.  See https://denver.streetsblog.org/2019/01/02/denvers-bus-and-train-fares-now-the-most-expensive-of-major-cities/. Commendably, RTD has started to tackle this problem by simplifying and lowering fares. See https://kdvr.com/news/local/rtd-could-lower-fares-offer-an-88-monthly-pass/.
  5. See https://www.cpr.org/2022/10/20/rtd-free-fare-august-ridership-increase/
  6. See https://www.coloradopolitics.com/legislature/rep-stephanie-vigils-bill-to-improve-free-transit-wins-committee-approval-focus-on-the-springs/article_0ca2fcd6-a34a-11ed-9541-5701a038876f.html
  7. See https://kdvr.com/news/local/rtd-could-lower-fares-offer-an-88-monthly-pass/.
  8. See https://www.rtd-denver.com/sites/default/files/files/2023-02/Board-Briefing-Documents_February-24-2023.pdf, page 6.
  9. See https://www.axios.com/local/denver/2021/11/30/denver-cut-greenhouse-gases-commercial-buildings.
  10. See https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/buying-new-stove-oven-or-dryer/; https://rmi.org/the-myth-of-stable-and-affordable-natural-gas-prices/.
  11. See https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Agencies-Departments-Offices/Agencies-Departments-Offices-Directory/Department-of-Transportation-and-Infrastructure/Programs-Services/Bicycles.
  12. See https://denverstreetspartnership.org/dds-victory. As detailed here, the city estimates that implementation will take 27.5 years, although several groups have questioned that analysis.
  13. See https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Agencies-Departments-Offices/Agencies-Departments-Offices-Directory/Climate-Action-Sustainability-Resiliency/Sustainable-Transportation/Electric-Bikes-E-Bikes-Rebates.
  14. See https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-02-09/denver-s-e-bike-rebate-program-has-a-hidden-power.
  15. See https://www.ridereport.com/blog/ebike-inventive-programs.
  16. See https://www.bikestreets.com/.
  17. Studies also show that increasing bike access to shopping areas is good for business. People who travel to a shopping area by bike spend approximately 24% more per month than people who travel by car. More information is on page 15 of this report.
  18. See https://www.epa.gov/heatislands
  19. See https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/09/1046662.
  20. See https://www.rtd-denver.com/sites/default/files/files/2023-02/Board-Briefing-Documents_February-24-2023.pdf, page 6.

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