VMT Inflection Point: Factors Affecting 21st Century Travel (SSTI, 2013)

For many decades, transportation planning has assumed continued increases in automobile use. Now, in a major reversal, the average American is driving considerably less. No one can predict the future with certainty, but there are many reasons to think that VMT trends will not revert to the 20th century trend. This paper lists some of those reasons, with references to supporting literature.

Ready. Transit. Go: Lining up development to meet current and future transportation demands

A recent study by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota considers the perspective of developers and business leaders interested in developing TOD sites in the Twin Cities. The study finds that there is an unmet demand for TOD and other walkable, multimodal transportation infrastructure. However, encouraging walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods will require the different actors involved—developers, business owners, and municipalities—to work together to develop a new suite of policies, zoning codes, and other ordinances that will foster this type of development.

Has Motorization in the U.S. Peaked? Part 2: Use of Light-Duty Vehicles (Michael Sivak, 2013)

This study is an examination of trends from 1984-2011 in distances driven by light-duty vehicles in the U.S. The study concludes that because the onset of the reductions in the driving rates was not the result of short-term, economic changes, the 2004 maxima in the distance-driven rates have a reasonable chance of being long-term peaks as well.

Lower VMT of TOD the result of density more than rail

A study published in the Journal of the American Planning Association argues that the rail transit frequently used to define transit-oriented development is not the most important factor in reducing vehicle miles traveled and car ownership. Overall density and the availability of parking were shown to be the most important variables in predicting reduced driving.

Fighting transit fear with transit facts

While per-capita traffic casualties are declining with increasing transit ridership, many people still harbor an irrational fear of public transit—making them less likely to use transit or support increased transit service. Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute (VTPI) released a new study last month that delves into this issue.

Carmaggedon leads to significantly better air quality

As Los Angeles-area residents were preparing for “Carmageddon II” – the second scheduled closing in two years of 10 miles of Interstate 405, the busiest highway in the country, to complete bridge work – research findings were released showing almost instantaneous improvements in air quality during the original Camageddon in July 15-17, 2011. Unfortunately, the effect was reversed soon after the freeway re-opened.

Local air quality benefits of street-level foliage much greater than previously thought

In a recently released study, researchers in the UK have found that street-level plantings can reduce two of the dominant pollutants—particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2)—by 60 and 40 percent, respectively, in urban street “canyons.” Previous city-scale studies had estimated that vegetation could only reduce levels of pollution by less than 5 percent.