The commute trade-off: Impacts on productivity and health

Americans are making trade-offs between commuting time, housing costs, and health related activities. The trade-offs push individuals to make decisions negatively affecting personal health (physical and psychological), which in turn correlates with reduced productivity in the workplace. “People should recognize that long commutes may siphon away time that could otherwise be spent on healthy activities, potentially [leading to] adverse health impacts,” said the author of a study in the Journal of Urban Health.

In commuting world, traditional gender roles detrimental to women’s health

While still in the early phases of being incorporated into transportation policy making, the health effects associated with commuting are becoming more apparent to public health officials and transportation researchers. And the effects may hit women harder than men, especially when it comes to stress due to commuting. Building on the commuter stress studies, a recent Washington Post article points out that the stress of driving is disproportionately affecting women.

CDOT study tests methodology for systematic bicycle traffic measurement

As bicycling and walking have become more popular methods of transportation, cities and states are searching for better techniques for estimating traffic from these non-motorized modes. Both on individual corridors and throughout transportation systems, traffic volumes are essential for planning and performance measures. But measuring non-motorized traffic can be more difficult than counting cars and trucks, so new techniques are needed to estimate traffic patterns. Colorado DOT worked with researchers at the University of Colorado-Denver to establish Colorado-specific methodologies for estimating bicycle and pedestrian volumes via a limited sample of existing counts.

WSDOT accountability report replaces congestion with corridor capacity

Washington State Department of Transportation has been rightfully proud of their accountability and transparency with their quarterly Gray Notebook, which details system performance and project delivery. As part of that, they have issued an Annual Congestion Report. But the 2013 report has a new name and a new emphasis. Instead of highlighting congestion, the 2013 Corridor Capacity Report focuses on capacity across all modes. Rather than measuring just motor vehicle throughput, it turns its attention to moving people, regardless of mode.

Increasing “reverse commuting” inspires innovative transit programs

Over the last decade, “reverse commuting”—travel from central city residential areas to suburban jobs—has increased significantly. Two trends—increased movement of employment to suburbs and growing preference by some employees for central city living—are driving the reverse commute. While in-migration to walkable and transit friendly cities has reduced driving for non-work auto trips, many workers still need to travel to jobs in the suburbs during peak hours, posing new challenges for transit planners. Transportation planners, employers, and commuters around the country are attempting to adjust to these changes in a number of ways.

Does the travel-time index really reflect performance?

Last week’s release of the Texas A&M Urban Mobility Report, with its charts and lists, prompted the usual flurry of media coverage. However, the travel-time index, a staple of the UMR, may not adequately reflect the performance of a transportation system. If the index becomes an official performance measure under MAP-21, optimizing system performance could become harder for DOTs.

Does the travel-time index really reflect performance?

Last week’s release of the Texas A&M Urban Mobility Report, with its charts and lists, prompted the usual flurry of media coverage. However, the travel-time index, a staple of the UMR, may not adequately reflect the performance of a transportation system. If the index becomes an official performance measure under MAP-21, optimizing system performance could become harder for DOTs.

Making room for the slugs

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is now taking slugs—otherwise known as “casual carpoolers”—into account when designing commuter parking lots. Although Virginia law prohibits people from soliciting rides on the side of the road, when it comes to slugging, VDOT has recognized the congestion benefits and does not interfere.

Highway congestion highest on Friday afternoon

Car commuters in most large metro areas face the highest level of highway congestion on Friday afternoon, according to Inrix data provided to Governing magazine. However many metro areas have relatively minor changes in commuting times. And one quarter of commuters in metro areas with the highest Friday congestion times opt out of traffic by walking, biking, using transit, or working at home.

The Shifting Nature of U.S. Housing Demand (The Demand Institute, 2012)

The Demand Institute believes that a housing market recovery has begun, but this recovery will be different from previous ones because of new market conditions and expectations. These differences may impact transportation planning as commuting and non-work travel patterns change.