A new playbook is emerging for managing local travel demand

Protected bike lane in Chicago

By Aaron Westling

Transportation demand management (TDM) has been part of the policy toolkit for quite a while. Over that time, TDM has shifted from mainly reducing single occupancy commute trips to something more encompassing, a larger shift toward active and shared transportation for all types of trips made by all types of people. While the latest TDM strategies are typically implemented at the local level, it is vital for state DOTs to understand the tools available to municipalities to help manage demand and support more connected systems.

A new implementation guide from the National Resource Defense Council and Nelson/Nygaard provides local officials with the tools and strategies they need to introduce effective TDM measures, leading to a more accessible, equitable and sustainable transportation system. From eliminating parking minimums in Honolulu to parking cash-out programs in Washington DC, this guide spotlights various TDM approaches from around the country. The report describes four areas of focus as “TDM Building Blocks:”

  • Pricing measures, such as charging for parking as an optional amenity or parking cash-out programs
  • Physical measures, including constrained parking supply and active-mode network improvements.
  • Programs and policies, such as transit subsidies or access to shared vehicles.
  • Promotional and marketing measures, which includes events and web-based information resources

A recent SSTI webinar highlighted two cities using these building blocks to spur change in their communities by tying TDM requirements to the development review process. Speakers from Madison, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles, California, discussed their strategies and the benefits to the community from reduced impacts of traffic and travel costs, as well as to particular stakeholders such as incumbent land uses, developers and building owners, and staff members administering programs.

Many of these strategies are also highlighted in SSTI’s Modernizing Mitigation report, which focuses on shifting transportation policy to a demand-centered approach aimed at “reducing traffic rather than accommodating or even inducing it by requiring parking, adding road capacity, and separating land uses.” This strategy, “allows travelers to meet their needs with fewer and/ or shorter car trips at less cost to themselves, to government, to communities, and to the environment.”

To curb rising travel demand—along with the associated traffic fatalities, pollution, and other negative impacts—cities around the country are looking for solutions and resources like the ones discussed above, which are great starting points for anyone interested in shifting travel behavior away from cars and into safer, more sustainable modes of transportation.

Photo credit: Erica Fischer on flickr, unmodified. License.