The shifting geography of sprawl

Sprawl appears to be decreasing in North America. That is, new development is adding to the share of gridded or connected streets in the street network. However, in other parts of the world, new development is increasingly taking the form of gated communities, cul-du-sacs, and other disconnected street network designs indicative of sprawl—so say the authors of a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Growth near transit is key to connecting smaller cities, SSTI finds

A new study by SSTI and the Traffic Operations and Safety Lab at UW-Madison provides a partial roadmap to the future for transit in smaller cities. The study gave Eau Claire, Wisconsin—a city nearing 70,000 people—a look into emerging transit technologies and insight on their residents’ perspectives toward transit. SSTI also laid out a dozen future scenarios, evaluating each one using accessibility metrics.

Use of multimodal accessibility metrics in project prioritization and investment

The Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota recently released a one-of-a-kind report that ranks the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas (by population) according to accessibility to jobs via bicycle. The report is a product of a multi-year study, where the researchers analyzed land use and transportation systems to measure accessibility to destinations via different modes. The researchers also incorporated traffic stress and bicycle comfort in measuring accessibility.

Spending smarter: lessons and opportunities for state DOTs

Two states that are changing how transportation investments are prioritized were featured recently on an SSTI webinar. Virginia just funded a third round of projects under its Smart Scale program, while Hawaii piloted its own SmartTRAC program with help from SSTI and Smart Growth America. SSTI will soon be launching a new project to learn from these past experiences and guide future programs, and we invite interested agencies to reach out.

Want to increase transit ridership without adding service? Make it easy to get to the stations

As in the United States, many rail transit lines in Sydney, Australia, have imperfect connections to the local street and pedestrian networks. In Sydney, 44 of 178 rail transit stations have entrances on only one side, necessitating long walks for unlucky travelers seeking to get to the hard-to-reach platform. A new report calculates the potential benefit from adding missing links between stations and local networks at those 44 stations. They calculate the increase in accessibility to the platforms from surrounding neighborhoods, then they estimate the effect in ridership from that change.

Researcher launches open source accessibility toolbox

DOTs and planning agencies interested in measuring access to destinations have a growing number of packages and data sources to choose from. Folks not looking to reinvent the wheel are turning to shiny products like Citilabs’ Sugar Access, Conveyal, and Remix. But those with tighter budgets and a little more technical expertise can build on existing platforms like OpenTripPlanner, UrbanAccess, and now the Accessibility Toolbox for R and ArcGIS, featured recently in Transport Findings.

Neighborhood walkability and residential preferences in midsized cities

Many studies have established a significant relationship between walkable neighborhoods and impacts on health and travel behaviors. In the past, most of these studies were based on large metropolitan areas with significant variability in built environment and residential options. A recent study examined relationships between residential preferences, neighborhood walkability, and health implications in a Canadian midsized-city. And, the findings are substantially different from those of similar studies done in large metropolitan areas.