Motor vehicle dependence is making us sick: How transportation and urban planners are part of the solution

A recent study published in the medical journal The Lancet focuses on prevention strategies for the global epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) stemming from an unsustainable reliance on a transportation system reliant on fossil fuels. Such diseases include such as traffic violence, obesity, or respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. To address this crisis, the authors makes strong arguments that transportation and urban planners must coordinate across departments and accept their professional roles in determining how people travel.

How a Chicago suburb became car-lite and lessons for other communities

In a provocatively titled article—The Suburb That Tried to Kill the Car—Politico digs into how the Chicago suburb of Evanston reinvented itself through transit-oriented development. It is a tale with lessons for many other communities about the interplay and delicate balance of land use, transportation options, parking, zoning, tax revenues, affordable housing, and attracting new development.

Caltrans achieves first state road award from Greenroads

The Presidio Parkway Phase I in San Francisco is the first state highway to be awarded a Greenroads certificate, indicating a high level of environmental sensitivity and sustainability during design and construction of the roadway. The project received a Bronze Rating. Key elements recognized by Greenroads in the project’s certification included an extensive public involvement process with special attention paid to biological, cultural, and natural resources.

State DOTs recognize benefits of supporting local land use planning

As part of a new grant program, the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) recently funded three local projects aimed at better coordinating transportation and land use decisions. VTrans has partnered with the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development to award approximately $200,000 each year for communities to develop plans, policies, and funding mechanisms that support local transportation options and reduce long-term infrastructure demands throughout the state.

Research and practice show that compact, connected street networks can result in improved health and safety outcomes

A recent study found that traditional gridded street designs, which foster high levels of density and connectivity, have a greater association with good health than tree-like networks with their low densities and poor connectivity. More specifically, neighborhoods with compact and connected street networks and fewer lanes on major roads are positively correlated with lower rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and asthma.

What do video games and transportation planning have in common?

A new approach to the idea of visualization is using the real-time 3D tools that are normally reserved for interactive video games. A new tool developed by Spencer Boomhower of Cupola Media builds upon many of the technical tools that transportation planners traditionally use such as design criteria, flexible design techniques, and walkability analyses to build a visual model that can be understood and manipulated by the general public.

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.