People will pay more to reduce the amount of time they spend getting from one place to another, according to a principle known as “value of time.” So naturally, it would make sense that moving people faster would offer the same benefit. However, a new study suggests that increased speeds do not translate to shorter travel times and speed doesn’t have the same value as time.
With consistent growth in most urbanized areas around the world, changes to the built environment to accommodate multimodal travel will become one of our most important adaptations. A recent study from Melbourne, Australia, of pedestrian flows over five years found that built environmental changes accounted for 50-60% of the increase in foot traffic in the downtown region.
Traffic impact assessments (TIAs) are commonly used by local governments to ensure that new developments do not cause excessive delay on nearby roads. There is growing cause for concern, however, that these tools have unintended consequences such as increasing transportation emissions and driving up housing costs.
Transportation agencies and metropolitan planning organizations often wrestle with how to properly value transportation investments, especially when it comes to things that can’t be measured in terms of vehicle delay, such as multimodal access and environmental justice. Some of these challenges are tackled in a new issue of Research in Transportation and Business Management, edited in part by SSTI. Those familiar with SSTI’s recent work in the development and implementation of accessibility metrics may be interested in a paper describing a new measure of non-work accessibility.
Through a grant from the Kresge Foundation, Smart Growth America worked with six regions over the past year to help them use performance measures to advance transportation projects that line up with their priorities for the future. SSTI supported several of the regions, focusing on helping each MPO tie their investments to policy priorities like economic vitality, accessibility to necessities, and equity.
Another pedestrian fatality happened about two miles from SSTI Central when a car traveling over 100 mph hit a couple walking on the sidewalk along an urban boulevard. It is just one of some 40,000 traffic fatalities the United States is likely to see this year. SSTI has been interested in whether data now being provided to state DOTs in order to measure delay—the National Performance Management Research Data Set (NPMRDS)—might be applied to address speeding danger as well.
These two things are true: 1) Travelers dislike slow traffic, and 2) slow traffic is sometimes an inescapable result of things that people do like—cities with popular destinations. Conventional transportation practice responds well to No. 1, with well-known standards for delay and capacity. Practice has no clear standards to deal with No. 2—what to do in places where speeding up cars amounts to destroying the village in order to save it. A new study of neighborhoods in Los Angeles, a place with more than a little congestion, helps fill this gap.
FHWA has released its Guidebook for Developing Pedestrian and Bicycle Performance Measures. Establishing performance measures that go beyond delay, congestion, level of service, and safety for drivers—especially including good metrics for non-motorized modes—has been a difficult but important goal for many transportation agencies. This publication is a big step forward to help states, regions, and communities in both project selection and progress toward community goals.
The California Department of Transportation sponsored a newly released report, Transit Performance Measures in California, by the Mineta Transportation Institute, as part of the agency’s efforts to understand what data and performance measures are being used by MPOs and transit agencies in the state.
Transportation researchers and practitioners have long sought other tools to complement or perhaps replace conventional methods—tools that would better analyze trips rather than speed at points in the system, speak to non-auto modes of travel, address land use solutions as well as highway infrastructure, and so on. Fortunately, new sources of data and emerging methods, as well as new-found interest in performance and scenario planning, are yielding the types of tools that the field needs.