Accessibility analysis, measuring the ease with which people can reach destinations, could shift the paradigm in the fields of land use and transportation planning. Where traffic speeds once reigned supreme, momentum is building behind the adoption of a more comprehensive metric. While uptake has thus far been somewhat diffuse among cities, metropolitan planning organizations, and states, those who have the capacity and resources to implement accessibility analysis find it a powerful tool for leveling the playing field between modes, focusing on the movement of people over vehicles, and centering the needs of under-resourced communities.
Measuring access to destinations can help agencies predict transit ridership
Many transportation agencies throughout the U.S.—some working directly with SSTI—are beginning to think about service in terms of access to destinations. A few, like the Washington and Virginia DOTs, are measuring accessibility in planning and project selection. New research suggests that accessibility analysis can also be helpful in predicting travel outcomes like transit ridership.
Utah and Washington DOTs measure connectivity across highways under recent federal pilot program
The state DOTs in Washington (WSDOT) and Utah (UDOT) recently developed methods to evaluate the comfort, safety, and connectivity of active transportation networks, focusing on bicycle and pedestrian connectivity across highways. The studies leverage newer data sources and GIS techniques to think about how highways can create barriers for nearby communities and how major corridors can be made more permeable.
Reforming fees and fines could help chip away at transportation inequities
A recent report by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) highlights transportation inequities in the greater Chicago area. Big-picture findings support the region’s comprehensive plan, but the near-term recommendations focus on changes in transportation-related fees, fines, and fares—a small but important share of overall transportation costs.
Major roads undercut safety benefits of highly accessible places
In working with transportation agencies across the U.S., our team often faces questions about the role of safety in accessibility analysis. While we know the safety and comfort of streets clearly impacts access for people on foot or bicycle, the effects of accessibility on overall safety haven’t been clear. Fortunately, leading experts in both accessibility and traffic safety recently teamed up to answer this question.
Canadian non-driving seniors less likely to engage in activities outside the home
A study of out-of-home participation in social and civic activities among Canadian senior drivers and non-drivers sheds light on the problems faced by both individuals and communities to keep older adults engaged and healthy. Of particular concern was the finding that non-driving seniors in rural areas and small towns had a significantly higher decline in out-of-home activities when they no longer had a driver’s license.
Destination access bills introduced in U.S. House
A trio of U.S. House members along with 10 co-sponsors have introduced a pair of bills that would set destination access as a national performance measure. Both bills describe destination access, aka “accessibility,” in terms of travel times by auto, transit, walking, and biking, with consideration for traffic-stress levels on the active modes. One of the bills focuses on access to employment, while the other focuses on access to non-work destinations such as shopping and schools.
Short commutes and multimodal access motivate housing choices
In choosing where to live, people strive for a combination of short driving commutes and good transit access, according to a new study spanning three large regions: Atlanta, Seattle, and Detroit. Walkable neighborhoods are also a plus, depending on the region.
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.