It is Denver’s policy in transit-oriented development (TOD) areas and other mobility-rich locations to prioritize safety and convenience for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit-riders; minimize parking demand; and facilitate a shift to alternative modes of transportation by residents, visitors and workers.
The following is a set of transportation demand management (TDM) recommendations that are easily implemented by project developers and building owners. These measures are cost-effective and provide a richer experience for tenants and visitors. Denver urges developers and building owners to adopt some combination of these measures to help improve mobility citywide.
Finally, Denver encourages anyone establishing a TDM program to take advantage of the free or low-cost resources available through the DRCOG Way to Go program, and the network of transportation management associations (TMAs) that help employers, building owners and activity centers meet their multi-modal goals. The City of Denver and DRCOG support these TMAs to help make getting around easier for everyone. Visit Way To Go's website for more information and a map of area TMAs.
The success of any TDM program depends on selecting context-sensitive measures and good implementation. If your area is served by a local TMA (transportation management association), join it, and take full advantage of their services to design and manage a building-specific TDM program and provide tenants with ongoing TDM measures and promotions.
TMAs are private nonprofits whose mission is to promote and facilitate transportation demand management in specific service areas. These organizations are funded through federal grants and the support of local jurisdictions, but are also membership organizations of local employers, activity centers, and building owners. TMAs serve their members with a variety of free ongoing TDM measures and promotions, and can also provide special fee-for-service activities, such as designing, implementing, and managing a robust building-specific TDM program.
Denver has a strong partnership with the TMAs at work in the city. For any project or building located within or near a TMA service area, Denver encourages developers and building managers to join the local TMA and take advantage of the resources they offer for establishing a strong and effective TDM program. For a list and map of Denver TMAs, please visit WayToGo.org/About/Outreach-Partners. For projects or buildings located outside a TMA service area, please consult with the Denver TOD manager and/or seek information and assistance from the DRCOG “Way to Go” program at DRCOG.org.
In transit oriented development areas: Construct as few parking spaces as possible, un-bundle parking so it is leased and marketed separately from tenant space, and price parking to reflect its actual value and demand. The easy availability of under-priced parking is expensive to provide, induces driving, and discourages the adoption of alternative modes of transportation.
Building less parking lowers construction and maintenance costs, increases investment returns, and allows for more affordable and competitive product. While market demand for parking cannot be ignored, market analysts are increasingly recognizing the power of TDM programs to drive down parking demand, and are increasingly willing to recommend financing of such projects accordingly.
What parking is constructed should be un-bundled from tenant leases. Parking should represent an additional cost to tenants, or, alternatively, a “credit” to tenants that elect not to claim a designated space. This creates an attractive opportunity for tenants to save money, provides an incentive for tenants to take advantage of a building’s TDM programs, and makes valuable parking spaces available for lease to other tenants, or to the public.
Finally, structured parking should be constructed in a way to facilitate potential conversion to usable space. Rather than tilted decks and low head-heights, parking structures should be constructed with level decks and ramps, and with full head-heights.
Provide an ample car-share program for tenants and as a building feature. This provides convenient, reliable, and cost-effective access to a vehicle without requiring car ownership, and also provides guaranteed parking for car-share users.
Many tenants may walk, bike, or take transit to work, but still desire convenient access to a car occasionally, for shopping, weekend trips, mid-day errands, or emergencies. For tenants, car-share can eliminate the need for a second car or obviate the need for car ownership entirely. For developers and building owners, reduced parking demand can be realized as savings in construction costs, and hence greater market competitiveness, or as additional revenue from publicly leasing unused spaces.
There are two models of car-share: round-trip and point-to-point. Zip-Car is the dominant round-trip car-share vendor; Car-2-Go is the dominant point-to-point car-share vendor. Both can be employed to good effect, separately or in tandem. Neither requires any outlay from the building owner beyond the dedication of parking spaces and the facilitation of a sufficient customer base. Car-2-Go is broadly accessible to the public throughout the city. Car-2-Go vehicles can be parked anywhere on public right-of-way, but dedicated spaces at a building ensure parking spaces for visitors driving a Car-2-Go, and ensure a conveniently available Car-2-Go for tenants. Zip-Car vehicles are also available throughout the city, but are tied to specific dedicated parking spots. This ensures a return parking spot for users, but limits flexibility. For a building, Zip-Car can supply different model vehicles for different seasons to meet the desires of tenants, such as 4-wheel drive SUVs for ski season.
Car-share membership should be bundled into tenant leases. This makes the use of car-share feel “costless” on a day-to-day basis, while encouraging tenants to use an amenity for which they’ve already paid. Further, car-share membership creates a world-wide amenity. Both Zip-Car and Car-2-Go are dominant players in cities across the country and around the world. Membership provided through the building provides tenants with an amenity they can use conveniently when they travel.
It is easier to manage a car-share program with residential tenants, but an office or commercial car-share program can be successfully managed with the help of a TMA partner.
Provide ample bike parking that is protected from the weather; in a location that is as convenient, or more so, than automobile parking; and secure from random public access. This makes it easy and obvious for tenants to own and use a bicycle for all bike-able trips.
For residential tenants, bike parking should be provided at a rate of roughly 1-space-per-bedroom. These bike spaces should be free of charge. As an additional amenity, they can be made available as dedicated spaces for specific users or units to ensure convenience and predictability for bike parking. Secure access is vital; it provides confidence that expensive bikes will be safe, thereby eliminating the need to take bikes up to apartments or condos – thereby further improving the convenience of owning and using a bicycle.
In addition to secure, predictable, and convenient bike parking, an additional amenity to promote bike ownership and usage among tenants is a bike repair and maintenance facility. This requires very little square-footage and can be cheap to outfit, but is viewed as a valuable amenity by bicycle owners.
For office and commercial tenants, bike parking should be provided at a rate of roughly 1 space per 5,000 square feet. As with residential bike parking, commercial and office bike parking should be secure, protected from the weather, and in a location as convenient, or more so, as any automobile parking.
Finally, ample bike parking for the visiting public is also important, especially for high visitor uses such as retail or restaurants. This bike parking should be segregated from secure tenant parking but also conveniently and intuitively accessible.
Provide a bike-share service for tenants, or sponsor a public bike-share station with the city’s bike-share partner, B-Cycle. This makes it easy for tenants to use a bike for bike-able trips from the building, even without owning a bicycle.
Tenant-only bike-share is more exclusive, but is a round-trip system generally limited to the building itself. B-Cycle is publicly accessible, but is a point-to-point system that provides access to an entire network of bicycles and stations across much of Denver.
Bike-share membership should be bundled into tenant leases. This makes the use of bike-share feel “costless” on a day-to-day basis, while encouraging tenants to use an amenity for which they’ve already paid. Moreover, in the case of B-Cycle, the bike-share membership becomes a valued amenity that tenants enjoy throughout the city, not just in association with the building.
It is much easier to manage a bike-share program with residential tenants, but an office or commercial bike-share program can be successfully managed with the help of a TMA partner. Or, an office or commercial building owner can simply sponsor a nearby B-Cycle station.
To facilitate the shift toward using transit, there is no more effective TDM measure than facilitating access to or subsidizing transit passes. Ownership of a pre-paid transit pass dramatically increases the likelihood and frequency of transit use. This is especially the case in the context of low-income or workforce-affordable housing.
Many large employers already supply employees with transit passes, but many smaller employers do not. The owner of an office or commercial building may be able to pool or coordinate a transit pass program to enormous benefit to tenants but at little or no cost to the building owner. Residential building owners may offer a transit pass, or a contribution into a transit pass account, for residential tenants. RTD makes available a complex array of different transit passes, which can be confusing to navigate, but a building’s transit pass program can be successfully managed with the help of a TMA partner.
Finally, for hotels in transit-rich locations, a transit pass can be offered as a much-appreciated perk and an inducement for guests to forgo car rental or more expensive taxis or Uber/Lyft. Having a transit pass in-hand, together with some guidance from hotel staff or printed materials, lowers the barrier to guests willing to try local transit.
To provide instant, real-time, site-specific information regarding all available transportation options, install a “transit screen” in the building lobby. A transit screen is a video display of location, arrival/departure, and all other specific information regarding every nearby transportation option. This makes it easy for tenants to learn about, and be confident of the availability of, all available alternatives to driving.
The company called “Transit Screen” is perhaps the best-known vendor of this technology but there are others that can provide a similar product. Generally, the building owner is responsible for supplying the video display, which is then programmed by the vendor for a monthly fee.
A transit screen can be programmed with any and all transportation options desired: real-time bus arrivals to nearest bus stops; real-time train arrivals to nearest rail station; location, distance, and inventory of nearest B-Cycle stations; location of available Car-2-Go vehicles; location of available Zip-Car vehicles; Uber and Lyft proximity; traffic and drive-time to downtown or other destinations. The transit screen display can also be linked to a mobile-friendly website, allowing tenants to check their transportation options anywhere in the building.
A transit screen can be seen in operation in the atrium of the Wellington Webb Municipal Building at 201 W. Colfax Ave., opposite the elevator banks at the Court Street entrance.