Boulder Is a 2018 Bloomberg Philanthropies National Mayors Challenge Champion City
City earns national grant to increase adoption of shared and sustainable transportation options
Boulder continues to make progress on its sustainability goals, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion. The city is currently on track to reduce emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. In 2016, the City Council approved the Climate Commitment, which seeks a 50 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions across electricity, building energy use and transportation by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050 (compared to a 2005 baseline).
Now, a grant program through Bloomberg Philanthropies is helping to bring these efforts to more of the community. In February, Bloomberg Philanthropies named Boulder one of 35 Champion Cities to participate in the Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition that encourages city leaders to find bold solutions for pressing community challenges. Chosen from more than 300 cities that submitted ideas, Boulder was awarded $100K in grant money, and has an opportunity to earn up to $5 million in further funding at the end of this six-month project.
The city is testing ideas to increase resident use of shared and sustainable transportation options, including carsharing, ride-sharing, electric vehicles (EVs), bikeshare and public transit. The project team is also considering tools and transportation options that may not exist yet in Boulder. The goal is to make innovative and sustainable transportation options more accessible for low-income and middle-income residents.
Co-creating with Community Connectors and Community Partners
Throughout this project, the city has been using innovative community engagement models to reach households and neighborhoods that have often been underrepresented in the engagement process. For instance, the city worked closely with community partners and project co-creators such as Boulder Housing Partners and CU-Boulder Just Transition Collaborative, to identify Community Connectors. These are community members with well-established connections in their neighborhoods.
The Community Connectors have surveyed hundreds of their neighbors about how they currently travel in Boulder and factors that influence their travel choices. The survey data, along with input from the community partners, helped inform different stages of the project. The city has already begun plans to expand the Community Connector model to serve as a regular mechanism for community engagement in Boulder.
The project's tests emphasized the influence our known and trusted relationships, whether with family or friends, have on our choice of getting where we need to go. Compared to tests relying solely on information and price incentives, the addition of direct, communal engagement measurably expanded residents' accessibility and openness to using new modes, thereby enabling them to be more resilient against unforeseen adversity and as mobility moves toward more electric, advanced, and shared modes.
As it waits for the results of the final $5 million grant award in late October 2018, Boulder is actively integrating the results and approach from this project into on-going Transportation, Sustainability, and Engagement initiatives across the city.