Victoria Transport Policy Institute. Spring 2017 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.

Vtpi Litman Canada

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



The New Traffic Safety Paradigm” ( )

Despite large investments in safer vehicles, roads and traffic safety programs, traffic accidents continue to impose huge costs to individuals and society. New approaches are needed to achieve ambitious traffic safety targets such as Vision Zero. A new traffic safety paradigm is changing how planning professionals measure traffic risks and evaluate potential safety strategies. It reflects recent research which improves our understanding of crash risks and potential traffic safety strategies. The old paradigm assumes that motor vehicle travel is overall very safe, and so applies targeted strategies which address specific risks. The new paradigm recognizes that all vehicle travel imposes risks, so planning decisions that increase vehicle travel tend to increase crashes, and vehicle travel reduction strategies increase traffic safety. It also recognizes that it is infeasible to reduce high-risk driving without providing viable alternatives. This expands the range of potential traffic safety strategies to include multi-modal planning, transportation demand management, and Smart Growth policies. A review of existing traffic safety programs indicates that most overlook or undervalue these new strategies.

Increasing Sustainable and Affordable Housing Development by Reforming California Tax Credit Allocation Policy to Minimize Parking Subsidies and Maximize Housing” ( ), by Professor Sherman Lewis.

The state of California helps finance affordable housing development through tax credits using a system that subsidizes costly parking, wastes millions of dollars on unused parking spaces, and diverts funds and land from affordable housing development, reducing how much can be built. It encourages vehicle ownership, traffic congestion, accidents, greenhouse gases, and pollution and lacks incentives for alternative mobility. Bundling parking with housing is unfair to households that do not use the parking spaces assigned to them, but whose rent must cover the costs. Unbundling would rent parking spaces separately from housing units, so households pay only for parking spaces they actually need. In short, current tax credit allocation policies contradict local and state objectives to provide affordable housing and counter climate change.

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Unaffordability Is a Problem, but Sprawl Is a Terrible Solution” ( ). This City Fix blog discusses how sprawl increases transportation expenses and other costs. It argues that geographically constrained cities must grow up, not out, for affordability.

Want Commuters to Ditch Driving? Try Giving Them Cash Money” ( ).

This Wired Magazine article quotes Todd Litman concerning Washington DC’s plans to require some employers to ‘cash out’ free parking (give non-drivers a benefit of equivalent value to subsidized parking). Also see “Groups laud flexible commute benefits bill to give employees more sustainable commute options” ( ) and “DC Residents Deserve Fair Commuter Benefits” (

You Got Yours, Now Please Let Others Have a Chance: Say Yes to Affordable Housing!” ( ). This Times Colonist newspaper column argues that Victoria (and other large city) neighborhoods should allow more affordable infill housing. The Cities for Everyone version includes a map showing where multi-family housing is forbidden in Victoria ( ).

Should Developers Pay to ‘Ride’ the Benefits of Transit? Where Transit Goes, Land Values Rise. Should Cities And The Public Get A Share?” ( ). This Tyee Magazine article quotes Todd Litman concerning the advantages and disadvantages of imposing special “value capture” taxes.

Frontiers of Urban Planning” ( ). Zeb King interviewed Todd Litman and learned some surprising facts about Smart Growth, transit use, and how zoning codes affect parking.

Designing Mental Health Into Cities” ( ). This website summarizes key facts and figures concerning the mental health impacts of urban living.

Integrated Transport and Land Use: Sylvia Park as a Case Study” ( ). This study compared the costs of accommodating various access modes (walking, cycling, bus, rail and car) to the Sylvia Park shopping center, and spending by their users. It concludes that the shopping center tends to receive high economic returns from walking, cycling and public transit travels, and could gain from encouraging these modes and reducing parking supply.

Recent Planetizen Blogs ( ):

Reduced and More Accurate Parking Requirements.’ For each dollar motorists spend on their vehicles somebody spends more than a dollar to park it. To reduce these costs many jurisdictions are eliminating or reducing parking requirements and encouraging more efficient parking management. You can too! ( )

‘Finding Hope In Challenging Times.’ Despite depressing U.S. federal politics, there are many encouraging planning trends if you look internationally and locally. ( )

Let’s be friends. Todd Litman regularly posts on his Facebook page ( ). Befriend him now!

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Cities for Everyone” ( ) will have a table at the 6th Annual Creatively United Earth Day Festival & Sustainability Showcase ( ), Earthday, Saturday, April 22, 10 am to 5 pm, at the Royal BC Museum, Victoria, BC. Free admission.

Cities for Everyone Personal-Political Art Contest” ( ). This contest challenges Victoria-area artists to explore links between personal experiences and politics regarding housing and transportation affordability. One $400 prize will be awarded for the most creative and insightful work in each of three categories: visual arts, creative writing and journalism. Deadline: May 30th.

Sustainable Cities Initiative, Urbanism Next Workshop” ( ), April 24, Portland. The University of Oregon’s Urbanism Next initiative explores ramifications of technological change on city design and planning. This workshop assembles a multi-disciplinary panel to discuss how autonomous vehicles and e-commerce may affect urban development.

Canadian Senate Committee on Transport and Communications” ( ), May 2, Ottawa. At a hearing concerning connected and automated vehicles, Todd Litman will discuss research from his report, “Autonomous Vehicle Implementation Projections: Implications for Transport Planning” ( ).

Congress for New Urbanism” ( ), May 3-6, Seattle.

  • Transportation, Place, & Prosperity,” Friday, May 5th, 9:00-10:15 AM, Seattle Art Museum. This presentation by Todd Litman and Peter Katz will discuss how more accessible development and new mobility options can help create more prosperous and livable communities, and how to communicate those benefits to key stakeholders.
  • Walk N’ Roll in Victoria Tour,” 7:30 AM – 7:30 PM, Saturday, May 6. Join walkability guru Dan Burden and Todd Litman for an educational tour of Victoria which explores the art of healthy city-making. Participants should bring a passport, small backpack, water, snacks, and rain gear.

Manitoba Planning Conference” ( ), May 10-12, Winnipeg.

This conference will have many interesting presentations. Todd Litman will lead two sessions: ‘Multi-modal Rural Planning: Understanding Demands and Solutions’ and ‘Affordability as a Planning Issue: New Insights and Policy Responses’.

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Tenth Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Forum in Asia: 2030 Road Map for Sustainable Transport – Aligning with Sustainable Transport Development Goals (SDGs)” ( ), March 14-16, Vientiane, Lao PDR.

This major international conference included Todd Litman’s keynote speech ‘Insight to Implementation of the Bangkok 2020 Declaration ~ Policy Trends and Developments, Challenges and Opportunities‘ ( ). It adopted the ‘Vientiane Declaration on Sustainable Rural Transport Towards Achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’

Transit-Walkability Collaborative Webinar” ( ). This webinar described research concerning the health, safety, economic and social equity benefits of walkable, transit-rich communities, and practical ways to advocate for such development. A recording is available on the website.

Harmony Between Urban Growth and Transportation Accessibility” ( ), presented at the Smart & Healthy Transport in Cities Conference, 4 April 2017, Pilsen, Czech.

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Building Change: Towards Sustainable Communities in BC” ( ). This Real Estate Foundation report describes how to build thriving, resilient communities and natural environments through better community planning. It recommends specific actions for creating more sustainable communities in British Columbia.

Right Type, Right Place. Assessing the Environmental and Economic Impacts of Infill Residential Development through 2030” ( ). This comprehensive report used integrated models to assess housing production scenarios that could meet California’s ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets and other planning goals. The analysis finds that more compact, infill development performs better in terms of both emission reductions and economic growth.

Study Sparks Debate Over Relationship Between Compact Development and Driving” ( ). This American Planning Association blog discusses a current debate among experts concerning the vehicle travel reductions that can be achieved with Smart Growth policies. Although research suggests that individual factors such as density, mix and walkability have modest impacts, together they can reduce residents’ vehicle travel 20-60% compared with what would occur in sprawled, automobile-dependent areas.

Visualizing Density in Five Ontario Neighborhoods” ( ). This Canadian Urban Institute report helps planners, designers, officials, builders and residents design more complete and accessible communities.

Blending Individual Tenacity with Government’s Responsibility in the Implementation of US Non-motorized Transportation Planning (NMT)” ( ). This paper examines the risks involved in walking and bicycling, and government responsibility to protect users health, safety and well-being.

Transportation and Health Indicators” ( ). This new USDOT website reports 14 transport-related health indicators such as land use mix, per capita vehicle mileage, physical activity from transportation, and proximity to major roadways at the state, metropolitan or urbanized area level, for research and comparisons.

Peer City Identification Tool” ( ). This website allows users to compare peer cities using various data sets. However, it fails to discuss how well these indicators reflect goals such as equity, resilience or economic development. For example, does older housing stock or a lower home ownership rate really indicate a housing problem? Is median family income a useful indicator of resilience? Users should be cautious when interpreting results.

Parkageddon. How Not to Create Traffic Jams, Pollution and Urban Sprawl. Don’t Let People Park for Free” ( ). This Economist Magazine article describes the inefficiencies and inequities of current parking planning practices and recommends reforms.

Seattle’s Transportation Transformation” ( ). This article by Sarah Jo Peterson describes how Seattle is becoming more multi-modal by implementing high quality public transit, commute trip reduction programs, infill development, and efficient parking management. A great case study describes how Seattle Children’s Hospital has reduced its drive-alone rate from 72% in 1995 to 40%, and how it plans to achieve a 30% target by 2030.

Transportation Lifestyle Trends in the United States, 2006–2015” ( ). This study by Sarah Jo Peterson used American Community Survey data to track vehicle ownership in U.S. states, metropolitan regions and core cities. A majority are experiencing declining vehicle ownership rates.

Practices for Evaluating the Economic Impacts and Benefits of Transit” ( ).  This report provides state-of-practice for evaluating public transit economic benefits and impacts. It describes methods used for assessing transit economic impacts, and the ways that agencies are using this information for planning, prioritizing, funding, and stakeholder support. (Note, the authors misspelled “Litman” as “Littman”).

Driving Faster Doesn’t Make You Happier. It Just Makes You Drive Farther” ( ). User satisfaction surveys indicate that residents of cities with higher average traffic speeds and more driving per capita are less satisfied with their regional transportation systems than in slower traffic regions. According to study author Joe Cortwright, “If we could figure out ways to enable shorter trips and less travel, we’d have happier citizens.”

Suburban Sprawl Stole Your Kids’ Sleep. Why does school start so early? Blame 1970s planning.” ( ). American schools’ early start times are largely imposed by the additional time required for bus systems to transport children in sprawled locations.

Repealing Minimum Parking Requirements in Buffalo: New Directions for Land Use and Development” ( ). A new zoning ordinance in Buffalo, New York completely removes minimum parking requirements citywide, relieving developers and property owners from the mandate to provide off-street parking. This article examines the decision and its impacts.

Energy and Emissions Reduction Policy Analysis Tool” ( ). This integrated, state-level modeling system developed by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration evaluates strategies for reducing transportation energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Environment as Politics. New Drawings of the Relation Between Residential Density and Voting Behavior” ( ). Forget about red and blue states, North and South, coasts and heartlands; the major American political geographic divide is closer to home. If you want to predict how someone will vote, ask, ‘How near are your neighbors?’

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Please let us know if you have comments or questions about any information in this newsletter, or if you would like to be removed from our email list. And please pass this newsletter on to others who may find it useful.

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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. The VTPI website ( ) has many resources addressing a wide range of transport planning and policy issues. He can be reached at:  Email: Phone & Fax: +1 250-360-1560

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About the editor:

Eric Britton
13, rue Pasteur. Courbevoie 92400 France

Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | | #fekbritton | | and | Contact: | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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