Yes, You Can Get to Northfield Without Driving Your Own Car

City Councilman Chris Herndon, front, at Monday’s press conference. Photo: David Sachs

Northeast Transportation Connections, a non-profit based in Stapleton that advocates for more sustainable neighborhoods, launched an initiative today aimed at getting people to and from The Shops at Northfield Stapleton without personal vehicles. The suburban-style shopping center is a major commercial destination and employment center for northeast Denver, about two miles from Central Park Station on RTD’s A-Line.

“We need to encourage people to get around with other modes of transportation, and this is, no pun intended, the first step in making sure that we do that,” said City Councilman Chris Herndon, who represents the area, at a press conference today. “Think about all the people that moved to Denver last year. Not everybody knows where they’re going. Not everybody knows the different options.”

Right now the campaign is threefold: Large signs around the mall tell people to walk, bike, bus, ride Lyft, or use Car2go to get between the shopping center and Central Park Station. Car2go and Lyft are offering discounts aimed at people who shop or work at Northfield Stapleton. And Car2go has added satellite parking spaces at the mall (which is actually outside the company’s main service area) while RTD opened Central Park Station’s park-and-ride to the company’s fleet.

Northfield Stapleton’s general manager, Diana Fiore, said she’s working with RTD and businesses at the mall to provide free transit passes to employees. Fiore wants to incentivize transit commuting, but still needs the shopping center’s businesses to agree that the bulk EcoPasses will be worth the cost.

Car-share and Lyft might make sense for hauling larger purchases to and from the A-Line, but they’re hardly the only options. RTD’s 42 bus makes the trip between the station and the mall every 15 minutes in each direction during the morning and evening rush, and every half-hour at other times. The 88 makes the trip every 30 minutes all day long. If you walk or bike, you have to cross I-70/270, but a wide, shared-use sidewalk offer decent accommodation. (The route is not a straight shot — a result of the meandering, suburban-style street network in Stapleton and Northfield.)

The arrangement with Lyft and Car2go is not a panacea meant to displace public transit, said Nate Currey, an RTD spokesman. It’s helpful for a cash-strapped agency that doesn’t plan to expand its fleet for another decade or so, he said. “We as an agency have to adapt to the new realities and the new opportunities that this brings, but also realize that we still have the bulk of the responsibility, I would say, in providing transit to the major centers of population,” Currey said.