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.
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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
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“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
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“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 )

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Published Elsewhere
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“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”

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Current Projects
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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 .

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Upcoming Events
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“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 ).

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Useful Resources
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“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 )

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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