Planetary Boundaries and Low Carbon Urban Mobility

Useful presentation and overview of the issues and trends by  Professor David Banister (University of Oxford) in a three part series “The Future of Sustainable Mobility”.  The following introduces his presentation but for the full text please click here.

How much is enough book cover Continue reading

Brief: L.A. County toll lanes get smooth start, despite grumbling
As officials unveiled the  first toll lanes on an 11-mile stretch of the 110 Freeway this weekend, some drivers said they had questions about how the new fare program worked. The express lanes were created using existing carpool lanes. As a result, drivers now can pay to leave mixed-flow traffic and enter the express lanes, saving what officials said could be two to three minutes a mile. The tolls vary from 25 cents to $1.40 a mile, depending on congestion and demand. Officials aim to keep travel speeds in the express lanes at least 45 miles per hour. They estimate the average toll  will be between $4 and $7 a trip, though it could be as much as $15.40.                     * Click here for full text

Brief: Los Angeles toll lanes get smooth start, despite some grumbling

Paris: Ambitious mobility plans for economy, efficiency and equity.
This ambitious effort on the part of Paris’s mayor and his team is well worth following, even if for some it is may be a bit inconvenient for those not able to easily read in French. The original article appears here. And here in the event is the Google translation. (You may note that this article appears in a journal loved and run by the French Right, the mayor’s fierce opponents, so caveat lector.)

Brief: Paris – Ambitious mobility plans for economy, efficiency and equity.

Swedish government looks to virtual meetings as an environmental (and efficiency) strategy

The Swedish government’s annual instructions to the National Transport Administration now include a mission to support and improve conditions for virtual meetings across the country. The goal is to find practical ways to harness “Green IT” as an efficient travel substitute as well as to provide both more efficient management and reduced environmental impacts. The core proposal is based on a “ten step method” which the Administration released last year to champion and support virtual meetings within an organization. The project behind this strategy is introduced here.  And you are warmly invited to comment and share the fruit of your own experiences. Continue reading

The World – the Climate – the Strategy. Come argue with me.

Let me sketch out an easy to understand (or reject) climate/transport foundation strategy that presents some stark contrasts with the ideas and approaches that are getting the bulk of attention when it comes to targeting, policy and investment in the sector — and which in a first instance is quite likely to earn me more enemies than friends (that goes with the territory). At least until such time that these basic underlying ideas are expressed in a manner which is sufficiently clear and convincing that we can with confidence put them to work to turn the tide. So here you have my first brief statement of the issues, the basic strategic frame and the key pressure points to which I invite your critical reactions and comments. In a second piece in this series, to follow shortly, I intend to have a look at the package(s) of measures, policies, tools, modes, etc. which can be sorted out, combined and refined to do something about it. Or maybe not.

- Eric Britton, Editor Continue reading

The Road Transport/Energy Challenge in India

Environment vs. Mobility? (Image source: Times of India)

“A few weeks ago, we (India Streets) had reported about India’s plans to reduce the climate change impact from its transportation sector. However, we saw that India’s plan, like many other plans out there, attempts to tackle the problem almost entirely by improving vehicle and fuel technology without adequately dealing with the most important factor – the number of vehicle-kilometers travelled. In the article below, we will read Prof. Madhav Badami of McGill University argue that “[fuel economy improvements will do little to mitigate [climate] impacts, and might even exacerbate them to the extent that the improvements increase motor vehicle activity by reducing the costs of driving… On the other hand, measures to curb vehicle-kilometers can provide major “co-benefits” by helping control energy consumption and related emissions, as well as other transport impacts.” Continue reading

Victoria Transport Policy Institute Winter 2010 Newsletter

This carefully compiled seasonal report from Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute is a fine tool and up to date source guide for researchers and policy makers worldwide. We are pleased to present it in its entirety here, together with references you will find handy to take these entries further. Thanks for your continuing fine work Todd.


News from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Winter 2010 Vol. 13, No. 1

The Victoria Transport Policy Institute is an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transportation problems. The VTPI website (http://www.vtpi.org) has many resources addressing a wide range of transport planning and policy issues.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Editor’s note:
All of the content of the extensive VTPI site including their extremely useful Online TDM Encyclopedia — http://www.vtpi.org/tdm/index.php — can be conveniently searched using the special New Mobility Knoogle Combined Search Engine that you will find in the left column here, which scans the content of the close to two hundred carefully selected Key Sources, Links and Blogs. You can also access it here direct by clicking http://tinyurl.com/knoogle-WS-key-sources

New Documents
====================

“Raise My Taxes, Please! Evaluating Household Savings From High Quality Public Transit” ( http://www.vtpi.org/raisetaxes.pdf )
High quality public transit consists of service sufficiently convenient and comfortable to attract travel that would otherwise be by automobile. This paper uses data from U.S. cities to investigate the incremental costs and benefits of high quality transit service. The analysis indicates that high quality public transit typically requires about $268 annually per capita in additional tax subsidy and $104 in additional fares, but provides vehicle, parking and road cost savings averaging $1,040 per capita, plus other benefits including congestion reductions, increased traffic safety, pollution reductions, improved mobility for non-drivers, improved fitness and health. This indicates that residents should rationally support tax increases if needed to create high quality public transit systems in their communities. Current planning practices tend to overlook or undervalue many of these savings and benefits and so result in underinvestment in transit quality improvements.

“Parking Pricing Implementation Guidelines: How More Efficient Pricing Can Help Solve Parking Problems, Increase Revenue, And Achieve Other Planning Objectives” ( http://www.vtpi.org/parkpricing.pdf )
Efficient parking pricing can provide numerous benefits including increased turnover and therefore improved user convenience, parking facility cost savings, reduced traffic problems, and increased revenues. This report provides guidance on parking pricing implementation. It describes parking pricing benefits and costs, ways to overcome common obstacles and objections, and examples of successful parking pricing programs. Parking pricing is best implemented as part of an integrated parking management program. Current trends are increasing the benefits of efficient parking pricing. Legitimate objections to parking pricing can be addressed with appropriate policies and strategies.

Updated Documents
=================

“Where We Want To Be: Home Location Preferences And Their Implications For Smart Growth” ( http://www.vtpi.org/sgcp.pdf )

“The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be” (http://www.vtpi.org/future.pdf

“Evaluating Public Transit Benefits and Costs” ( http://www.vtpi.org/tranben.pdf )

* * * * *

Published Elsewhere
===================

“Evaluating Carbon Taxes As An Energy Conservation And Emission Reduction Strategy,” Transportation Research Record 2139, Transportation Research Board (www.trb.org), pp. 125-132; at http://www.vtpi.org/carbontax.pdf
Carbon taxes are based on fossil fuel carbon content, and therefore tax carbon dioxide emissions. This paper evaluates British Columbia’s carbon tax, introduced in 2008. It reflects key carbon tax principles: it is broad, gradual, predictable, and structured to assist low-income people. Revenues are returned to residents and businesses in ways that protect the lowest income households. It supports economic development by encouraging energy conservation which keeps money circulating within the regional economy.

“Transportation Policy and Injury Control” Injury Prevention, Vol. 15, Issue 6, 2009. ( http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/15/6/362.full )
This short article describes a paradigm shift occurring in the field of transport planning, and its implications for traffic safety. The old paradigm assumed that “transportation” means automobile travel. The new paradigm recognizes a wider range of options and planning objectives.

“The VMT Reduction Target Debate: Will This Get Us Where We Want to Go?” TRB Annual Meeting session video recording ( http://www.bethereglobal.com/trb_2010/shop/index.php?searchstring=litman&showresult=true&exp=0&resultpage=&categories=off&msg=&search=index.php&shop=1 ).

“Complete Streets” (EIP-25), Planners Advisory Service Essential Information Packets ( http://www.planning.org/pas/infopackets/#25 ), American Planning Association ($30)
Complete streets accommodate all users. Over the past several years, communities across the country have embraced a complete streets approach to the planning, design, construction, and operation of new transportation facilities. In this Essential Info Packet, PAS compiled a variety of articles, reports, and other resources detailing best practices for planning and building complete streets, including the VTPI “Introduction to Multi-Modal Transportation Planning: Principles and Practices.”

Recent Planetizen Blogs ( http://www.planetizen.com/blog/2394 ):
* “Raise My Taxes, Please! Financing High Quality Public Transit Service Saves Me Money Overall”
* “Carfree Design Manual”
* “Accessibility, Mobility and Automobile Dependency”
“Report from TRB”
“Fun With Research: Higher Fuel Prices Increase Economic Productivity”

* * * * *

Current Projects
===================

Canadian Tax Exempt Transit and Cycling Benefits
“Cost Estimate of Proposed Amendments to the Income Tax Act to Exempt Certain Employer-Provided Transportation Benefits from Taxable Income” ( http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Sites/PBO-DPB/documents/Costing_C-466_EN.pdf ).
Proposed Canadian legislation C-466 would exempt from income taxes employer-provided commuter benefits up to $1,800 annually for transit and park-and-ride expenses, and $250 for cycling expenses. This study evaluated the fiscal impacts of this legislation. It concluded that net tax revenue foregone would be negligible overall, and the reduced vehicle traffic should provide economic benefits leading to increased productivity and therefore tax revenues.

To support this legislation send letters to:
Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance
21st Floor, 110 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G5
A model letter is available at http://www.vtpi.org/files/C466.doc .

Drive Less, Pay Less: Pay-As-You-Drive Auto Insurance Performance Standard ( http://www.ceres.org/Page.aspx?pid=1157 )
VTPI is working with a coalition of transportation and environmental organizations to develop a Pay-As-You-Drive (PAYD) vehicle insurance performance standard to help regulators, insurers and consumers identify truly effective PAYD policies. This standard defines specific requirements for policies to achieve Bronze, Silver and Gold ratings. For more information see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mindy-s-lubber/drive-less-pay-less-win-w_b_391373.html .

* * * * *

Upcoming Events
=================

“Multi-modal Transportation Economic Evaluation: Cut Costs and Improve Mobility” at the Urban Transportation Summit, Toronto 3 March 2010 ( http://www.strategyinstitute.com/030210_uts8/dsp.php )

“Parking Innovation Workshop” at the American Planning Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, 11 April 2010 ( http://www.planning.org/conference/program/search/activity.htm?ActivityID=138154 ).

“Smart Driving: Evaluating Mobility Management” at the Edmonton International Conference on Urban Traffic Safety, 28 April 2010 ( http://www.trafficsafetyconference.com ).

* * * * *

Useful Resources
=================

“Preventive Medicine; Special Supplement on Active Communities for Youth and Families: Using Research to Create Momentum for Change,” Vol. 50, Supplement 1, January 2010; at ( http://www.activelivingresearch.org/resourcesearch/journalspecialissues ). This special, free journal issue contains articles describing new research on the relationships between land use policy, urban design, travel activity (walking, cycling, transit and vehicle travel), body weight and health outcomes.

“Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2010 Benchmarking Report” (www.peoplepoweredmovement.org/site/index.php/site/memberservices/C529.
This comprehensive study by the Alliance for Biking & Walking reveals that in almost every state and major U.S. city, bicyclists and pedestrians are at a disproportionate risk of being killed, and receive less than their fair share of transportation dollars. While 10% of U.S. trips are by bike or foot, and 13% of traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians, yet biking and walking receive less than 2% of federal transportation dollars. The report indicates that states with the lowest levels of biking and walking have, on average, the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. International comparisons indicate that the U.S. investments less in biking and walking and has less biking and walking activity than its peers.

“Integrating Bicycling and Public Transport in North America” by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler, Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 12, No. 3, 2009, pp. 79-104; at http://www.nctr.usf.edu/jpt/pdf/JPT12-3Pucher.pdf.

“Child and Youth Friendly Land Use and Transport Planning: Guidelines and Literature Review” ( http://www.kidsonthemove.ca ) is developing guidelines for municipal transportation and land-use planners as tools to create communities that meet the needs of children and youth – and everyone else.

“Abu Dhabi Urban Street Design Manual” ( http://nelsonnygaard.com/Documents/Reports/Abu-Dhabi-StreetDesignManual.pdf )
This innovative Manual provides guidance to planners and designers on ways to create more walkable communities. It introduces the concept of the pedestrian realm as an integral part of the overall street composition. It uses extensive illustrations, examples and instructions to help designers, planners and decision-makers implement a new vision of urban development. It responds to the needs of a rapidly-growing city that desires to preserve cultural traditions and design features, provide natural comfort in a hot climate, accommodate diverse populations, and achieve sustainability objectives.

“Who Owns The Roads? How Motorised Traffic Discourages Walking And Bicycling,” by Peter L. Jacobsen, F. Racioppi and H. Rutter, Injury Prevention, Vol. 15, Issue 6, pp. 369-373; ( http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/15/6/369.full.html ).
This article examines the impact of vehicle traffic on walking and bicycling activity. It indicates that real and perceived danger and discomfort imposed by traffic discourages walking and bicycling, and interventions to reduce traffic speed and volume can improve public health by increasing walking and bicycling activity.

“A Study on the Impact of the Green Transport Mode on Public Health Improvement,” KOTI World-Brief, Vol. 1, No. 1, Korea Transport Institute, May 2009, pp. 6-8 ( http://english.koti.re.kr/upload/eng_publication_regular/world-brief01.pdf ).
This study found that commuters who switch from automobile to walking or cycling for eight weeks experienced significantly reduced lower blood pressure, improved lung capacity and improved cholesterol counts. It estimated that commuters who use active modes achieve annual health and fitness benefits worth an average of 2.2 million Korean Won (about $2,000). They found that incorporating these values into transportation policy and project evaluation significantly affected outcomes, resulting in higher values for policies and projects that increase active transportation among people who otherwise achieve less than 150 weekly minutes of physical activity.

“Transitway Impacts Research Program” ( http://www.cts.umn.edu/Research/Featured/Transitways ) investigates how high quality urban transit systems affect travel activity and land use development.

“Analysis Finds Shifting Trends in Highway Funding: User Fees Make Up Decreasing Share” (http://www.subsidyscope.com/transportation/highways/funding )
This analysis of Federal Highway Statistics found the portion of U.S. highway funding paid by motor vehicle user fees has declined significantly. In 2007, 51% of highway construction and maintenance expenditures were generated through user fees (fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees and tolls) down from 61% a decade earlier. The rest came from other sources, including income, sales and property taxes.

“Estimates of the External Costs of Transport in 2007″ KOTI World-Brief, Vol. 1, No. 3, Korea Transport Institute (www.koti.re.kr), July, pp. 8-10; at http://english.koti.re.kr/upload/eng_publication_regular/World-Brief03.pdf .
This study estimates that during 2007, South Korean household expenditures on transportation totaled 11.4% of GDP, and external transportation costs (congestion delays, accident damages and pollution emissions) totaled 5.4% of GDP. The study compares South Korea’s transport costs with other countries and indicates changes over time.

“Transport: External Cost of Transport In Switzerland” ( http://www.are.admin.ch/themen/verkehr/00252/00472/index.html?lang=en ). This comprehensive research program by the Swiss government provides detailed estimates of various transportation costs, including infrastructure, accidents and pollutants.

“International Fuel Prices 2009″ ( http://www.gtz.de/fuelprices)
The 2009 International Fuel Prices report provides an overview of the retail prices of gasoline and diesel in more than 170 countries, discusses pricing policies, presents case studies on the impact of high and volatile fuel prices in 2007/2008 in developing countries and provides access to numerous additional resources.

“Rethinking Transport and Climate Change” ( http://www.transport2012.org/bridging/ressources/files/1/96,Rethinking_Transport_and_Climate_Chan.pdf ) and “Changing Course: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Urban Transport” ( http://www.adb.org/Documents/Books/Paradigm-Sustainable-Urban-Transport/new-paradigm-transport.pdf ).
These two new reports by the Asian Development Bank conclude that current transportation planning practices are unsustainable and discuss policy and planning changes needed to create more efficient and equitable transport systems.

“Transit Benefit Ordinance” ( http://www.transitbenefitordinance.com). This new website provides specific information on how municipal governments can encourage or require larger employers to offer transit benefits.

“Carfree Design Manual” by Joel Crawford, International Books ( http://www.carfree.com/cdm ). This comprehensive and attractive book, featuring hundreds of photographs and drawings, describes the theory and practice of carfree (and car-light) urban planning.

“How Free Is Your Parking?” ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_O6dR7YfvM&feature=player_embedded )

# # #

About the author:

Todd Litman is founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transport problems. His work helps to expand the range of impacts and options considered in transportation decision-making, improve evaluation techniques, and make specialized technical concepts accessible to a larger audience. He can be reached at: 1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, Canada. Email: litman@vtpi.org. Phone & Fax: +1 250-360-1560

Resource: Victoria Transport Policy Institute Fall Newsletter

This hefty seasonal report from Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute is a fine tool for researchers and policy makers world-wide. We are pleased to present it in its entirety here, together with references for you to take it further. Thanks for your continuing fine work Todd.

VTPI NEWS

News from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Autumn 2009 Vol. 12, No. 4

The Victoria Transport Policy Institute is an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transportation problems. The VTPI website (http://www.vtpi.org) has many resources addressing a wide range of transport planning and policy issues. VTPI also provides consulting services.

New Documents

“Where We Want To Be: Household Location Preferences And Their Implications For Smart Growth” ( http:vtpi.org/sgcp.pdf).
This paper investigates consumer housing preferences and their implications for future urban development patterns. Market research indicates that households increasingly prefer smart growth features such as location accessibility (indicated by shorter commutes), land use mix (indicated by nearby shops and services), and transportation diversity (indicated by good walking conditions and public transit services), and many will choose small-lots and attached homes that offer these features over large-lot sprawl homes that do not. The current stock of large-lot housing should be adequate for decades, but the supply of small-lot and attached housing will need to approximately double by 2025 to meet consumer demands.

“Evaluating Transit-Oriented Development Using a Sustainability Framework: Lessons from Perth’s Network City” (www.vtpi.org/renne_tod.pdf ), by Professor John Renne.
Transit-oriented development (TOD) is compact, mixed-use development that facilitates walking, bicycling, and use of public transport through its urban design. This chapter from the book ‘Planning Sustainable Communities,’ presents a method to evaluate TOD sustainability based on outcomes, including travel behaviour, local economic development, natural environment, built environment, social environment and policy context. The study applies this analysis framework to five rail transit precincts in Perth, Western Australia to test the feasibility of data collection and analysis.

“Who Is Really Paying For Your Parking Space? Estimating The Marginal Implicit Value Of Off-Street Parking Spaces For Condominiums In Central Edmonton,” (www.vtpi.org/jung_parking.pdf ), by Owen Jung.
This master’s thesis (economics) uses hedonic pricing to estimate the marginal effect of each additional structured parking space on condominium prices in downtown Edmonton, Alberta. The analysis indicates that the value of a parking space is statistically significant but substantially less than the typical cost of supplying such spaces. The results suggest that retail prices do not fully reflect the parking costs. This adversely affects housing affordability because developers must charge more per unit, and to the degree that the additional parking costs cannot be recovered by higher prices, are likely to provide less housing, leading to a higher market-clearing price, particularly in lower price ranges.

“Making the Most of Models: Using Models To Develop More Effective Transport Policies And Strategies” ( http://www.vtpi.org/FerWig_Modelling.pdf ) by Peter Furnish and Don Wignall
This paper discusses how simplified transport models in evaluating transportation policies and programs. An example of a simplified model is described to illustrate the use of this type of modelling for policy and strategy development purposes.

Published Elsewhere

“Healthy, Equitable Transportation Policy: Recommendations and Research” (188-page report) and “The Transportation Prescription: Bold New Ideas for Healthy, Equitable Transportation Reform in America” (36-page summary report) by PolicyLink and the Prevention Institute Convergence Partnership ( http://www.convergencepartnership.org/transportationhealthandequity )
These publications, written by leading academics and advocates, discuss key issues related to health, equity and transportation. They identify specific transportation policies and programs that can improve public health and quality of life, particularly for vulnerable communities. Includes an introduction by Representative Jim Oberstar, Chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Mobility as a Positional Good: Implications for Transport Policy and Planning,‘ by Todd Litman, in “Car Troubles: Critical Studies of Automobility and Auto-Mobility” (Jim Conley and Arlene Tigar McLaren eds), Ashgate ( http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9780754677727 ). Introduction at http://www.ashgate.com/pdf/SamplePages/Car_Troubles_Intro.pdf . Chapter summarized in http://www.vtpi.org/prestige.pdf .
This book, with chapters written by various researchers, uses social theory, specific case studies and policy analysis to examine issues related to automobility.

“Parking Solutions: Essential Info Packet, Planning Advisory Service” http://www.planning.org/pas/infopackets), published by the American Planning Association’s Planning Advisory Service. Includes papers by various authors including Todd Litman if VTPI.
These packets include:
‘Parking Solutions’ (130 pages): six documents that describe modern approaches to parking management.
‘Shared Parking” (133 pages): more than thirty documents concerning shared parking, parking in-lieu fees, parking requirement reductions and exemptions, and downtown district special parking requirements.
‘Green Parking Lot Design” (66 pages): three documents that describe ways to improve parking lot environmental performance including landscaping, stormwater management and reduced heat island effects.
‘Permeable Pavement and Bicycle Parking’ (38 pages): five documents concerning the use of permeable parking lot pavement materials and five documents concerning bicycle parking requirements and design.

“Investment Of Commonwealth And State Funds In Public Passenger Transport,” 31 July 2009, Rural And Regional Affairs And Transport References Committee, Australian Senate; at http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/rrat_ctte/public_transport/report/report.pdf . Todd Litman’s comments are at http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/commttee/S12320.pdf .
This study identified various benefits of public transportation and recommended various reforms to increase the value of transit investments.

‘Creating Safe and Healthy Communities,‘ by Todd Litman, in “Environments: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies,” ( http://www.fes.uwaterloo.ca/research/environments/index.html ), Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 21-43.

‘Integrated University Parking & Access Management Programs’ by Dennis Burns and Todd Litman, in “Parking Management – Planning, Design and Operations” (Volume 3 in the Parking 101 Series, 2009), International Parking Institute ( http://www.new.parking.org/products/parking-management-pdo ).

Recent Planetizen Blogs ( http://www.planetizen.com/blog/2394 ):
“Rea Vaya (‘We are Moving’) In South Africa” ( http://www.planetizen.com/node/41414 )
“Sidewalk Design Vehicle” ( http://www.planetizen.com/node/41262 )
“Universal Design – Accommodating Everybody” ( http://www.planetizen.com/node/41097 )
“Home Location Preferences And Their Implications For Smart Growth” ( http://www.planetizen.com/node/40461 )
“Moving Cooler Report: Solutions and Criticisms” ( http://www.planetizen.com/node/39945)

Recent presentations by VTPI:

“Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow: Implications of Population Aging on Transportation and Community Planning” presented at, Exploring Age-Friendly Environments, Winnipeg, Canada.

“Capacity Building for Young Professionals,” professional development classes in Argentina. This enjoyable visit to Buenos Aries involved teaching transportation and land use planning principles to a class of smart, enthusiastic young professionals. Muchas gracias to my hosts!

“Sustainable Transport Performance Indicators,” presented at Toward Sustainable Transport System for Green Growth in the North Pacific, sponsored by the East-West Center and Korean Transport Institute, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Upcoming Events

“Where We Want To Be: Home Location Preferences And Their Implications For New Urbanism,” to be presented at The Congress for the New Urbanism’s 2009 Transportation Summit ( http://www.cnu.org/transportation2009 ) to be held in Portland, Oregon, 4-6 November 2009.
This Summit will advance new ideas for creating compact, walkable communities that provide residents a high quality of life while preserving the natural environment. It brings together 150 to 200 expert engineers, planners, public officials and design professionals to present ideas and work toward reforming transportation standards that obstruct urbanism.

“Bicycle Friendly Planning,” to be presented at the International Cycling Symposium for Gumi, South Korea, 18 November 2009.

“Transportation and Health: The Evidence and the Opportunities,” to be presented at the American Public Health Association 137th Annual Meeting, Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 10:30 AM, in Philadelphia, PA. ( http://apha.confex.com/apha/137am/webprogram/Session27792.html ).

“The VMT Reduction Target Debate: Will This Get Us Where We Want to Go?” (P10-0710)
Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, 10-14 January 2010, Washington DC (http://www.trb.org ).
This session will debate the role of VMT reduction targets to help achieve climate change emission reductions and other planning objectives .
Todd Alexander Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Canada
Marlon G. Boarnet, University of California, Irvine
In opposition to the use of VMT Reduction Targets as an effective GHG reduction strategy: (P10-0723)
Alan E. Pisarski, Consultant
Samuel Staley, Reason Foundation

Useful Resources

“Economic Impact Of Public Transportation Investment,” American Public Transportation Association ( http://www.apta.com/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/economic_impact_of_public_transportation_investment.pdf ). This report describes methods for evaluating the economic development benefits of investments in public transportation.

“Non-Toll Pricing: A Primer,” ( http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fhwahop08044/cp_prim6_00.htm ). This short document by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration describes various innovative pricing reforms, including efficient insurance and parking pricing.

“What Policies Are Effective At Reducing Carbon Emissions From Surface Passenger Transport? A Review Of Interventions To Encourage Behaviroual And Technological Change,” ( http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/ResearchProgrammes/TechnologyandPolicyAssessment/0904TransportReport.aspx ) by the UK Energy Research Centre.

“On-Street Parking Management and Pricing Study” ( http://www.sfcta.org/content/view/303/149 ).
This study by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority reviews the city’s existing on-street parking management programs, considers innovative strategies and technologies for improved parking management, and discusses residential parking management issues, including the use of parking revenues to support neighborhood transportation enhancements. It includes several peer city parking management case studies. It provides recommendations for comprehensive neighborhood parking management to improve parking conditions and support policy goals.

“Walkability and Health; BC Sprawl Report 2009,” ( http://www.smartgrowth.bc.ca/Portals/0/Downloads/sgbc-sprawlreport-2009.pdf ).
This study by Ray Tomalty and Murtaza Haider evaluates how community design factors (land use density and mix, street connectivity, sidewalk supply, street widths, block lengths, etc.) and a subjective walkability index rating (based on residents’ evaluation of various factors) affect walking and biking activity, and health outcomes (hypertension and diabetes). The analysis reveals a statistically significant association between improved walkability and more walking and cycling activity, lower body mass index (BMI), and lower hypertension. The study also includes case studies which identified policy changes likely to improve health in specific communities.

“Moving Cooler: Transportation Strategies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” ( http://www.movingcooler.info ).
This report, sponsored by a number of major transportation, business and environmental organizations evaluates several dozen climate change emission reduction strategies, including their emission reductions, implementation costs, impacts on vehicle costs, and equity impacts. It estimates the emissions that could be reduced under a range of assumptions about how they are implemented.

“Real Transportation Solutions for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions” ( http://www.transportation1.org/RealSolutions/index.html ).
This report by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials identifies various ways to reduce transportation climate change emissions.

“A Conceptual Framework For The Reform Of Taxes Related To Roads And Transport” ( http://apo.org.au/research/conceptual-framework-reform-taxes-related-roads-and-transport ), School of Economics and Finance, La Trobe University for the ‘Australia’s Future Tax System’ review by Treasury, Canberra.
This report examines how transport services in Australia should be priced and transportation facilities funded. It discusses various economic principles related to efficient prices and taxes, estimates various transportation-related external costs (road and parking facilities, congestion, accidents, energy consumption and pollution), evaluates current pricing efficiency and recommends various reforms to help achieve transportation planning objectives.

“Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Home Values in U.S. Cities” ( http://www.ceosforcities.org/files/WalkingTheWalk_CEOsforCities1.pdf ).
This study by Joe Cortright of CEOs for Cities evaluates the effects of walkability on housing prices using the used Walkscore ( http://www.walkscore.com) and 95,000 real estate transactions, controlling for house (size, number of bedrooms and baths, age) and neighborhood characteristics (proximity to the CBD, income, and accessibility to jobs). It found that, each walkscore point increase was associated with a $700 to $3000 increase in home values, after controlling for other observable factors, so for example, shifting from a 50th to a 75th percentile walkscore typically increases a house’s value $4,000 to $34,000, depending on the market.

“Are TODs Over-Parked?” ( http://www.uctc.net/papers/882.pdf ).
This study by Robert Cervero, Arlie Adkins, and Cathleen Sullivan investigated the degree to which residential developments near urban rail stations are “over-parked,” that is, more parking is provided than needed. It found the mean parking supply of 1.57 spaces per unit was 31% higher than the 1.2 spaces recommended in ITE Parking Generation, and 37% higher than the weighted-average peak demand of 1.15 parked cars per unit at 31 residential projects near BART rail stations. The analysis indicates that increased parking supply tends to increase vehicle ownership: an increase of 0.5 spaces per unit is associated with a 0.11 additional cars parked per unit at the peak. Parking demand tends to decline with improved pedestrian access to stations and improved transit service frequency.

“Applying Health Impact Assessment To Land Transport Planning” ( http://www.ltsa.govt.nz/research/reports/375.pdf ).
This report by the NZ Transport Agency describes Health Impact Assessment (HIA), a process to inform decision makers about the likely positive and negative effects of a proposal on public health and on health inequalities in order to avoid unintended consequences and to make informed decisions. This report recommends transport policy and planning practices to protect and promote public health.

“Transportation Demand Management: A Small and Mid-Size Communities Toolkit” ( http://www.fraserbasin.bc.ca/programs/documents/FBC_TDM_toolkit_web.pdf ).
This toolkit provides guidance on implementing TDM programs and strategies in smaller and medium-size communities. It includes an introduction to transportation demand management (TDM) and what it takes to implement a TDM strategy. There are 10 TDM case studies of small and mid-size communities. The toolkit shows how to start a TDM initiative and how to turn it into a comprehensive program, offering helpful resources.

Co-Benefits Asia Hub Website ( http://www.observatory.ph/co-benefits_asia ) provides information on climate change emission reduction strategies that provide additional benefits related to environment (e.g. air quality management, health, agriculture, forestry and biodiversity), energy (e.g. renewable energy, alternative fuels and energy efficiency) and economics (e.g. long-term economic sustainability, industry competitiveness, income distribution).

“Getting More with Less: Managing Residential Parking in Urban Developments with Carsharing and Unbundling” ( http://www.citycarshare.org/download/CityCarShare2009BestPracticesReport.pdf ).
This new report describes examples of residential developments that rely on unbundled parking and on-site carshare services to significantly reduce parking requirements. Provides guidance to developers and planners on applying these strategies.

“CityTalent: Keeping Young Professionals (and their kids) in Cities,” ( http://www.ceosforcities.org/files/CEOs_CityTalent_Kids.pdf )
This new report by CEOs for Cities helps urban leaders understand, support and scale the behaviors of multi-generation urban families. Researchers studied parent concerns of safety, space and schools developing concepts to counter them through density, public space and using the city as a classroom.

“The Challenge of Sustainable Mobility in Urban Planning and Development in Oslo” ( http://www.toi.no/getfile.php/Publikasjoner/T%D8I%20rapporter/2009/1024-2009/1024-2009-nett.pdf )
This report provides detailed analysis of transportation and land use development trends in Oslo, Norway. It indicates that smart growth policies and investments in alternative modes (particularly high quality public transit) can reduce per capita vehicle travel and energy consumption. It discusses this decoupling of economic development and VMT.

# # #

About the author:

Todd Litman is founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transport problems. His work helps to expand the range of impacts and options considered in transportation decision-making, improve evaluation techniques, and make specialized technical concepts accessible to a larger audience. He can be reached at: 1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, Canada. Email: litman@vtpi.org. Phone & Fax: +1 250-360-1560

Resource: Planning for Sustainable Travel – Tools for better integration between land use & transport planning

The UK Commission for Integrated Transport (CfIT) announce “a powerful new tool for planning practitioners, local authority officers and Councillors for better integration between land use and transport planning”. Planning for Sustainable Travel is a web-based resource with a summary practice guide, identifying the 11 key land use levers that planners and transport planners can use to help achieve lower trip rates, shorter travel distances and greater use of sustainable travel modes.

“The guidance makes two key recommendations:

1. Much more attention should be given at an early stage to analysing locational options for major development – selecting places likely to generate low trip rates and the greatest potential to offer a competitive alternative to car use.

2. New developments should be planned to achieve levels of car distance travelled per head that are lower than the average for the transport authority area and that are good practice benchmarks

It is intended that the guidance acts as a resource bringing together current sometimes disparate advise under one website and guide.”

# # #

* For a short intro to the report – http://www.cfit.gov.uk/pn/091023/index.htm

* For project website – www.plan4sustainabletravel.org.

* Full guidance is available at www.plan4sustainabletravel.org.

* Planning for sustainable travel (summary guide)

* Planning for sustainable travel (leaflet)

* Planning for sustainable travel (background and technical analysis)

* For background on the CfIT – http://www.cfit.gov.uk

Contact:

Daniel Parker-Klein
Transport Planning Policy Officer
Commission for Integrated Transport
55 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0EU
t +44 020 7348 1970
f +44 020 7348 1989
m +44 07894 620655
e daniel.parker-klein@ciltuk.org.uk

The Dead Freeway Society

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

The Strange History of Portland’s Unbuilt Roads
by Sarah Mirk Photos by Jason Kinney
Source: The Portland Mercury – http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/the-dead-freeway-society/Content?oid=1676323

Scattered all over Portland are artifacts of a city that could have been. Bikes rush down a concrete ramp on the west side of the Hawthorne Bridge that 40 years ago originally connected to an expressway instead of grass. Tiny Piccolo Park off SE Division was the site of homes demolished to make way for the pylon of an unbuilt freeway. These vibrant sites are tombstones. We are a city of dead freeways.

While other American cities have built, built, built, Portland’s freeway history is boom and bust: massive road projects were planned, mapped, and sold as progress by one generation, then killed by another. When current transit planners visit from exotic Houston and DC to admire Portland’s progress, what they are really admiring are the roads not built—freeways erased from the maps decades ago.

“UNCLOUDED VISION”

The offices of Portland City Hall did not always boast bike maps. The city striving to become the nation’s greenest still bears the signature of America’s most famous car-centric transit planner.

Sixty-six Septembers ago, a Portland city commissioner invited the powerful (and, these days, infamous) transportation planner Robert Moses to come to Rose City and write its road construction plan. Moses, a freeway mogul whose most lasting legacy is the massive byways slicing apart New York’s boroughs, brought a team of men and holed up for two months in a downtown hotel. After exploring the city and crunching numbers, the men whipped up an 86-page blueprint for Portland’s future.

It was in this plan that Portland was first divided by the inky lines that would eventually become I-205, I-84, I-5, I-405, and Highway 26. It was Moses’ men who first drew the Fremont Bridge onto a photo of Portland. In white ink, they imagined the freeway to be a suspension bridge running across the river and down into the current Overlook neighborhood. But they also imagined a lot more.

To modernize and meet the demands of a growing economy and expanding population, back in 1943 Moses argued that Portland must surround itself with freeways—an inner ring carrying traffic through the city with another freeway ring encircling its outer limits.

“Every citizen of Portland has a right to be proud of the fact that this community is prepared, while there is still time, to face the future with unclouded vision,” wrote Moses.

In 1956, the US Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, promising the federal government would cover 90 percent of the costs of all new freeway construction, kicking off a freeway construction boom in Portland and around the nation. The last electric light rail company in Portland went out of business the day after the region’s first freeway was built in 1958.

RELOCATION IN ACTION

In late August, just over I-405 from Portland State University, Shawn Granton stood on an orphaned section of the South Park Blocks. The measly chunk of lawn and the Southwest neighborhood around it was cut off from downtown when the freeway plowed through the area in the mid-’60s. The freeway was part of an urban renewal plan, Granton explained to a dozen gathered cyclists. It removed an entire block of high-density apartment complexes—the kind the city now wants to build downtown under its modern urban renewal policy that awards developers tax breaks as an incentive.

“Freeways become big walls in cities and divide neighborhoods,” said Granton, who has led his dead freeways bike tour of the city for three years. In shorts and sunglasses, he shouted over the thunder of the freeway. The grassy nub on the south side of the freeway was left intact as a compromise after neighbors complained about the removal of a block of parkland.

In 1964, the Oregon State Highway Division put out a helpful pamphlet on how to remove people whose homes would be demolished by the construction of I-405. “Relocation in Action” follows one Miss Crosby, age 63, who lives on a $100 monthly welfare check and whose diverse, mostly lower-income apartment building is about to be leveled to make way for the road. Like everyone else in the building, she is nervous about finding a new home. All turns out well in the end, of course: a helpful highway employee helps Miss Crosby secure an apartment in the Northwest Towers, a 13-story “modern, fireproof” building near downtown.

BOOM!

Jumping on the federal government’s desire to pick up 90 percent of the tab, the city and state tore out a path for I-84 through the Eastside and for I-5 through North Portland. The Fremont Bridge went up—white, just like Moses imagined. This was a glorious age of freeways. Construction rolled forward with few roadblocks.

“The I-5 through North Portland had a huge impact, but the people had no voice,” says Val Ballestrem, education manager of the Architectural Heritage Center, who wrote his master’s thesis on Portland’s anti-freeway movement. “There were some people living in the path of I-5 who got together, met with city officials, and were told, ‘There’s nothing you can do.’ And they just gave up.”

“There was no requirement at that time to do an environmental impact study for big projects like this,” explains Metro Planning Director Andy Cotugno. “City and business thought it was a great idea and the neighborhoods that got impacted had no rights at that time.” A photo of the construction shows a street lined solely with empty porches—the homes behind them had already been razed.

By the time Portland wrote up a (failed) bid to host the 1968 Olympics, planners had built enormously on Moses’ vision for a freewayed Portland. The map printed inside the glossy yearbook-sized Olympic sales pitch includes not just the freeways we know today, but also the Mount Hood Freeway running up SE Division, Laurelhurst Freeway along 39th Avenue, the Sellwood Freeway, Prescott Freeway, and a mile-long freeway tunnel running under the West Hills.

BUST!

But 10 years later, everything had changed. The Mount Hood Freeway, Laurelhurst Freeway, and others were erased from the planned map of Portland’s future. I-205 had been whittled down from a planned eight lanes to six—its extra space being designated for a public transit right-of-way that just last week finally became the much-celebrated MAX Green Line. Portland had essentially reversed direction in one short decade, while nearly every other major American city was still gung ho about the roads ahead.

The first freeway to dissolve was Harbor Drive. Built in 1942, the wide slab of asphalt ran over what is today Tom McCall Waterfront Park, now where tourists and idyllic children roam with ice cream, Barack Obama spoke, and once a year the Oregon Symphony shoots live cannons in a performance of the 1812 Overture. In the ’50s and ’60s, the freeway, streaming with big-finned cars, was featured on postcards promoting a modern Portland. By 1975, it was gone.

“There was a shift in local government in the late-’60s. It went from a good-old-boy network to a much younger generation of politicians,” explains Ballestrem. Urban planning historian Gregory L. Thompson wrote that when one young politician arrived in Portland in 1973, the politico noted that everyone had a copy of anti-freeway handbook Rites of Way tucked into their hip pocket.

When the state began buying up land next to Harbor Drive to widen the waterfront freeway in 1968, a citizen alliance against the expansion found open ears at city hall and the governor’s office. Old-school traffic engineers said closing the freeway would be a disaster, but Governor Tom McCall, Mayor Neil Goldschmidt, and County Commissioner Don Clark heard the citizens’ opinion that most car traffic could be rerouted to the city’s newly built freeways, like the I-5. Throughout the summer of ’69, Portlanders organized “consciousness-raising picnics” to rally people against Harbor Drive. Three years later, a governor’s task force declared that the low-traffic, 30-year-old road should be ripped out and replaced with a park.

SAVING SOUTHEAST

Riding high from the Harbor Drive victory, environmentally minded politicians and Portlanders took on the next freeway foe. Money was in the bag from the federal government to build a freeway like North Portland’s I-5, which would cut through Southeast to aid suburban commuters. This Mount Hood Freeway would have been four city blocks wide for the entire length of SE Division. The highway commission had already started buying up the right of way and tearing down old homes along Division when opposition started picking up steam.

Unlike I-5, though, the neighborhood had legal channels for their protest. Not only were the freeway planners required to write up an environmental impact statement for the project, but also Portland was in the midst of a major downtown revitalization effort.

“You connect the dots. You had a freeway that would create more sprawl at a time [when] we’re trying to do things to recapture downtown,” says Metro’s Cotugno. “In the process it would divide a community. Why should the inner-city neighborhood just roll over to produce a suburb?”

Neighbors worried about air pollution and the neighborhood filed a suit against the freeway, using the environmental impact statement to argue that the freeway’s site was poorly chosen. Meanwhile, Oregon bigwigs pulled strings in Washington, DC. The alternative transit-minded politicians scored a big win in August of 1973: Congress changed national law to allow regions to kill planned highways and put almost all the federal money set aside for those projects into non-freeway transit projects instead.

Soon after, a judge decided in favor of the anti-freeway neighbors. If the state wanted to build the Mount Hood Freeway, the judge said, they would have to restart the nearly decade-long planning process. In fall 1974, Governor McCall officially informed the federal government that his state would be “deleting” the Mount Hood Freeway. Instead, $23 million of the $165 million freeway pricetag would go into building the region’s public transit system.

THE PRICE OF “PROGRESS”

The Mount Hood Freeway’s $165 million budget looks like pennies compared to the costs of our current freeway projects. Oregon and Washington are currently embarking on the largest single transportation project in the region’s history. If the states’ transportation departments get their way, the current six-lane I-5 bridge to Vancouver will become a 12-lane, $4.2 billion bridge called the Columbia River Crossing (CRC). Unlike the freeway projects of old, light rail and a better bike path are included in the CRC design. But there are many parallels. Modern environmental groups like Coalition for a Livable Future say the 12-lane bridge will increase traffic and promote sprawl. Some of the old-time activists who organized the anti-Harbor Drive picnics are these days attending rallies against the CRC.

“It’s another one of these roads that’s being espoused as ‘We have to have it in order to make everybody’s lives easier,'” says Ballestrem. “But it’s going to do the same thing that all these other big roads did. Building a bigger road is just going to encourage driving the automobile.”

Out of the national network of 43,000 miles of interstate freeway built with federal dollars in the 20th century, Metro’s Andy Cotugno says only about 25 freeway projects did not get built across the entire country.

Then and now, Portland’s pioneering spirit has always taken the road less traveled.

Historic postcards provided courtesy of local know-it-all Dan Haneckow (cafeunknown.com). Much of the historic information in this piece is from Gregory L. Thompson’s article “Taming the Neighborhood Revolution: Planners, Power Brokers, and the Birth of Neotraditionalism in Portland, Oregon” (Journal of Planning History).

# # #

The Road Not Taken

- Robert Frost (1874–1963).

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Wikipedia Alert – Donald Shoup "may not meet the notability guideline for academics"?

Like it or not Wikipedia is now on the first line of references for not only journalists but also scholars, policy makers and many others. We treat it with a certain reserve, at times suspicion, and rightly so. But we treat it and treat it often, so that’s why it’s a resource we do well to keep an eye on. And tend to when useful. Now is one of those times.

Here is a case in point for lovers of cities and sustainable lives that I invite those of you who care about these things to jump in and do what you have to do.

The current entry on Donald Shoup – a major international figure who has with his work and insights over the last generation guided and helped us to understand the role, potential and keys to parking in cities – is extremely slight. That’s not problem since it is accurate, and if you dig into the history section there you will see that someone has just taken a minute in June to open up an entry on him. That is standard WP procedure. No problem there.

But the problem is that one of the Wikipedia roaming rangers has, in all good faith, added a large qualifying tag on top of his entry which reads: “This article may not meet the notability guideline for academics. Please help to establish notability by adding reliable, secondary sources about the topic. If notability cannot be established, the article is likely to be merged or deleted.” Oh dear.

The address of the reference is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Shoup. So now you know what you have to do.

Solidarność

Archives, August 2006: President Clinton calls for massive CO2 reductions in next 10 to 15 years

Almost exactly three years ago to the day, former US President Bill Clinton addressed a distinguished audience in Los Angles on the occasion of launching the Clinton Climate Initiative Cities program. His call for immediate massive CO2 reductions worked to inspire and energize all our sustainable transport work since that date. World Streets remembers: Continue reading

Op-Ed: The choice challenge (Try nudging)

‘Nudging’ travel behaviour change through the design of information systems…

- Erel Avineri, University of the West of England

Today’s travellers have a wealth of information at their disposal to help plan and execute their journeys. The availability of travel information to the public has changed dramatically in recent years with the increasing use of the internet and mobile communications. Millions of portable satellite navigation systems are sold every year in the UK and Europe. The number of people using web-based journey planners to inform their journeys is increasing. The rapid technological developments in the field of Advanced Traveller Information Services (ATIS) demand a greater understanding of what part this technology is now playing in relation to travel behaviour, and how such systems can be designed to benefit both individuals and transport systems as a whole.

It has been generally argued that when making choices between alternative transport options, travellers behave in a reasonably rational way, and can be approximated to act according to their interests, as long as they are provided with complete and accurate information on each of the alternatives – they try to minimise money and other costs, and maximise their utilities from the journeys they are making. Due to the size and complexity of the transport system, choosing between alternative routes, alternative modes of transport (car, bus, train, cycling, etc.) or the timing of their journeys is not always an easy task for travellers.

Providing travellers with reliable and updated information on travel options is therefore acknowledged as having the potential to improve travellers’ choices in ways that are beneficial for individuals and society. Stemming from its 1998 Transport White Paper, the Department for Transport has given, and continues to give, notable attention to traveller information systems as part of its approach to transport policy.

Individual travellers are commonly seen as rational human beings who, through choice making, maximise their utilities. However, insights and (theoretical) understandings from psychology and behavioural economics are now emerging through the literature to paint a more complex picture of decision-making processes. Empirical studies provide much evidence that in real life, the behaviour of travellers is typified by bounded rationality. Travellers’ limited cognitive resources have a strong effect on their use of information. Recent evidence showed that even when provided with explicit information on their travel choices, travellers turn out to interpret and value this information in a way that systematically violates the assumptions of rational behaviour. But it is not just the content of information that influences our choices. Inspired by the work of cognitive psychologists, researchers at UWE Bristol found that travellers are heavily influenced by context, ie. the manner in which travel information is being presented.

Thaler and Sunstein ( from the University of Chicago) argue in favour of the so-called Libertarian Paternalism approach, as a way to help people make the ‘right’ choices without restricting their freedom of choice. In their recent book (‘Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness’), they suggest the incorporation of small features in the environment to attract people’s attention and highlight the ‘right’ choices for them and alter their behaviour. The art and science of ‘nudges’ could inspire the further design of ATIS, to help travellers make better choices. The following are a few (out of many) examples that illustrate such nudges.

Defaults: a default is the option that individuals receive if they do not explicitly request something different. Defaults have strong influence on behaviour – and they tend to become a habit. Some journey planners provide travel information on more than one mode of transport. In the design of a journey planner, travellers could be provided by default with information about car transport, even if they are planning to use public transport – this default might increase the attractiveness of car transport.

On the other hand, setting public transport as the default mode could nudge people to consider this as the first option. No matter how defaults are set, it is important not to restrict the choices available for the traveller – making information on all alternatives available.

Framing and ‘loss aversion’: People tend to feel and behave differently when information about their choices is presented (or ‘framed’) as gains or losses. The following illustrates three possible ways of presenting the same information on two commuting choices.


Under the rational choice model, the format of the information should not matter. However, since people are more sensitive to losses, they might find the cycling option specifically attractive in the third alternative. This is a rather simple example of how the designers of travel information systems can help people to make more sustainable travel choices simply by choosing a specific format to present information about time (and other attributes) of the alternative choices.

Salience: A specific challenge ATIS designers are faced with is how to provide travellers with information on the environmental costs of their journeys. A growing number of travellers are already aware of, and have concerns about, the greenhouse emissions they generate. When informed about environmental impacts, they might make sustainable choices. However, many of the negative impacts of our travel choices are not salient. For example, it is difficult to the driver to easily imagine the air pollution and climate change caused by carbon emissions.

Carbon emissions are invisible to travellers; it is therefore difficult for them to associate their travel behaviour with environmental costs. Without feedback, a behavioural change is less likely. Providing drivers with daily information on their carbon emissions might make them ‘visible’, and could make it easier for them to do the right thing. Recent research reports on the effect of in-vehicle data recorders on drivers’ behaviour; this on-board technology collects and records information on the movement, control and performance of the vehicle. It was found that drivers, through the provision of daily feedback on their performance, tend to improve their safety behaviour. Using the same technology to provide drivers with environmental costs, against some targets or against previous performance, could provide them with a psychological incentive to change their behaviour.

The effectiveness of travel information systems may be enhanced if more consideration and emphasis is given to the design of the information context.
The libertarian paternalism approach is not offered as an alternative to other measures to influence travel choices. In some cases, synergy between the pricing and the soft intervention by nudges could be an effective policy. ‘Getting the prices right’ by taxes and subsidies could be the first step of a transport policy; however, the effect of pricing policies on behavioural change is limited – partly because of individuals’ bounded rationality. Travellers do not always associate their behaviour with the relevant costs and this slows down the process of behavioural change. Nudges can help individuals to overcome cognitive biases, highlight the better choices, and increase the size and the speed of behavioural change – without restricting choices or limiting travellers’ freedom of choice.

In liberal democratic regimes, where the public and political acceptability of regulation and enforcement are low, the libertarian paternalism approach, through the nudging of travellers, could be one of the most promising approaches to deal with the need for a radical and urgent behavioural change. The last 10 years have seen a rapid evolution of the field of travel information provision. The technological level of today’s systems, the widespread availability of travel information services, together with the insights from behavioural sciences, makes the incorporation of nudges into travel information systems more easy and cost-effective than ever. This could be the trigger to achieve the behavioural change we urgently need.

Dr Erel Avineri, Erel.Avineri@uwe.ac.uk
Reader in Travel Behaviour, Centre for Transport Society,
University of the West of England, Bristol

This article appears in the current edition of The Science & Technology Review, issue 2, pp. 133-134. Published by PSCA International. www.publicservice.co.uk. World Streets thanks them for permission to reproduce the full text of the article here.

* Listen to the author on “Nudging” in the following podcast presentation – http://www.tsu.ox.ac.uk/news/podcasts/eavineri081215.mp3