COMMENT: The ‘Mile High City’ embraces the future of mobility

With its population growing at unprecedented rates, the city of Denver has marked itself as an innovator for future mobility. By Jack Hunsley

‘The Mile High City’ may not have the immediate draw of the likes of New York, Washington D.C. or San Francisco, but that has not stunted Denver’s growth. The city’s population has swelled from 555,000 citizens in 1990 to 705,000 in 2017. This population increase of 27% shows no sign of slowing either, with Denver likely to hit the 1,000,000 mark over the next 20 years. The increase has forced many issues into the limelight, perhaps none more so than mobility.

In a climate of increased focus on global greenhouse emissions and a transition towards autonomy, now presents the ideal moment for cities, such as Denver, to really think about the future of city mobility. With the State of Colorado, of which Denver is both the state capital and largest city, readily embracing the autonomous vehicle (AV), Denver is in many ways carrying the flag.

With some surveys suggesting that half of Denver’s population is unaware of electric vehicles (EVs) and EV technology, there is still work to be done in assimilating EVs into day-to-day life

From an authority level, there are several factors driving the move towards efficient city mobility. With mobility blueprints dating back to the early 2000s, Denver has been able to build a firm but flexible foundation to mould its vision for the future of mobility. This, combined with the enthusiasm of the State of Colorado, has allowed Denver to welcome many automotive and technology players – such as EasyMile and Panasonic – to its city streets, both with long-term projects and with the first Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Day in 2017.

Infrastructure, such as roadside units for crucial connected technologies, such as 5G and C-V2X, has already been rolled out to key routes in the city and the state. Autonomous, connected and electric solutions are being tested, catered for by the city’s desire to move away from single occupancy journeys and to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. It also hoped that AVs will allow Denver to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and injuries by 2030 as part of its Vision Zero action plan.

The city’s population has swelled from 555,000 citizens in 1990 to 705,000 in 2017

There is still much do to, however. The technology is inherently slow given its reliance on advancements within the automotive industry itself. In addition, with some surveys suggesting that half of Denver’s population is unaware of electric vehicles (EVs) and EV technology, there is still work to be done in assimilating EVs into day-to-day life.

However, it is only by beginning to tackle these issues now that Denver can prepare for the future. The road may be long and arduous, but, with ambition, enthusiasm and a thorough technological framework, Denver is building its vision of the future of mobility today.

There is much more to learn about the story of Denver and its developments regarding the future of mobility. To find out more about this powerhouse of innovation, download Automotive World’s latest Special report: The Future of Mobility in Denver.

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