In His Second Term, Will Mayor Hancock Honor His Promises on City Streets?

Michael Hancock
Mayor Michael Hancock. Image: City and County of Denver

Last week, City Auditor Dennis Gallagher called out the Hancock administration for failing to properly fund and implement Denver’s bike network. Today, Mayor Hancock delivered his second inaugural address, promising what his press secretary called “an intensive year-long effort to increase sustainable mobility choices in Denver.”

Hancock made the remarks in a speech today at the Denver Performing Arts Center. Here’s what he had to say about transportation issues (as prepared):

We have been expanding reliable, safe transportation options that move you through your daily commute, help you get the kids to school, and help you get to work, the store and home.

We have made major enhancements to Broadway, Federal and 6th Avenue, and soon, we will begin improving Brighton Boulevard and Quebec Street. We are upgrading busy intersections, providing smarter parking options at popular destinations like South Broadway and fixing the timing of traffic signals on Colorado Boulevard.

But cars are no longer the only ones using Denver’s roads. More people are walking, biking, busing, scootering, Ubering and tuk-tuking around town. We need more sustainable choices, and it is clear we will not receive meaningful federal aid as Congress continues its failure to pass legislation that will help cities fix their aging infrastructure.

I am proud to say that we are creating those choices with you. We are working to make bus rapid transit a reality along East Colfax, more protected bikes lanes are coming to downtown, and new pedestrian bridges and sidewalks are popping up in neighborhoods.

New realities demand new ways of thinking, so we will be increasing our focus on mobility. That takes vision, that takes leadership and that takes significant investment. Over the next year, I have tasked my team with creating actionable steps to safely and efficiently move you around this great city of ours.

The speech sounds good, but other than mentioning projects that are already underway, it’s incredibly vague. And the mayor’s record on transportation in his first term doesn’t inspire confidence that general proclamations will lead to specific action.

In 2011, Hancock described a “transportation network that will become the economic envy of every city in America.” Yet, today, the city still lacks a dedicated funding stream for the most basic element of said network — sidewalks.

As Hancock was sworn in today, protesters outside the ceremony called for the I-70 expansion to cease, and outgoing City Auditor Dennis Gallagher refused to sign an agreement to help fund the highway widening.

Advocates are still waiting to see any tangible results from Hancock signing on to the Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets this winter.

So will Denver get four more years of platitudes, or real progress on street design? Stay tuned.