Victoria Transport Policy Institute. – Summer 2019  Vol. 19, No. 2


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 following two reports by Cities for Everyone ( ), our local advocacy organization, recommend specific local and regional policies for creating more efficient, equitable, affordable and inclusive communities. These concepts are transferable to other regions.

*           “Our Efficient and Equitable Transportation Agenda” ( ). This report identifies six specific policies to create a more diverse, efficient and equitable regional transportation system. By improving resource-efficient travel, and providing incentives for travellers to use the most efficient options for each trip, it can achieve emission and traffic reduction targets, and provide other economic, social and environmental benefits.

*           “Our Affordable and Inclusive Neighbourhood Agenda” ( ). This report identifies eight policy reforms that can significantly increase moderate-priced housing options in walkable urban neighbourhoods, which increases affordability and inclusivity, and achieves other community goals.

“Congestion Costing Critique: Critical Evaluation of the ‘Urban Mobility Report‘” ( ). The Urban Mobility Report (UMR) is a widely-cited study that estimates U.S. traffic congestion costs and recommends congestion reduction solutions. This study identifies various biases in the UMR’s analysis. As a result of these problems the UMR’s congestion cost estimates represent upper-bound values, which are much higher than the results from other studies that use more realistic assumptions. The UMR ignores basic research principles: it includes no current literature review, fails to fully explain assumptions and document sources, has no sensitivity analysis, and lacks independent peer review. Users of this report should be aware of these biases and omissions.

Smart Congestion Relief: Comprehensive Evaluation of Traffic Congestion Costs and Congestion Reduction Strategies” ( ). How traffic congestion is evaluated can significantly affect transport planning decisions. This report investigates the best methods for measuring congestion costs and evaluating potential congestion reduction strategies. Key factors include analysis scope, baseline speeds, travel time valuation, accident and emission impact analysis, induced travel analysis, and consideration of co-benefits. It discusses how these factors influence planning decisions and describes the practices recommended by experts. It evaluates various congestion reduction strategies including roadway expansion, improvement of space efficient modes, pricing reforms, Smart Growth policies and demand management programs.

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“Toward More Comprehensive Evaluation of Traffic Risks and Safety Strategies” ( ), is a special issue of ‘Research in ‘Transportation Business & Management: [Re]Evaluating How We Value Transportation’ ( ), edited by Wesley Marshall, Dan Piatkowski, Chris McCahill. This article examines our emerging understanding of traffic risks and new ways to increase safety. Recent research improves our understanding of factors that affect traffic risks and ways to increase traffic safety. Applying this knowledge requires a paradigm shift, a change in the way we define problems and evaluate potential solutions. The old paradigm assumed that driving is generally safe and favored targeted safety programs that reduce special risks such as youth, senior, impaired and distracted driving. The new paradigm recognizes that all vehicle travel imposes risks, and so, in addition to targeted programs also supports vehicle travel reduction strategies such as more multimodal planning, efficient transport pricing, Smart Growth development policies and TDM programs. These strategies tend to provide large co-benefits, in addition to safety.

Research Challenges’ and ‘Urban Mental Health Strategies’ chapters in “Urban Mental Health,” a new book published by Oxford University Press. Both are based on research described in my report, “Urban Sanity: Understanding Urban Mental Health Impacts and How to Create Saner, Happier Cities” ( ). This book examines how urban living affects residents’ mental health and happiness, and ways to use this information to create saner and happier cities. The research indicates that city living has mixed mental health impacts: it increases some risks and reduces others. This analysis suggests that it is possible to create sane and happy cities.

Placemaking and the Right to the City of Urban Poor: a Case Study in Sanandaj, Iran,” in the ‘Journal of Place Management and Development’ ( ), with Kayoumars Irandoost, Milad Doostvandi and Mohammad Azami. This research seeks to understand placemaking in urban slums by low-income inhabitants using Henry Lefebvre’s critical theory of social production of space and the Right to the City. This case study examines the city of Sanandaj, Iran, where most residents are poor and live in cooperative informal settlements. It illustrates how the urban poor, as marginalized inhabitants, overcome the constraints of conventional planning and property ownership to creatively and cooperatively develop communities that reflect their needs. This indicates a schism between formal and informal sectors.

A Conceptual Framework to Formulate Transportation Network Design Problem Considering Social Equity Criteria” ( ) with Hamid Behbahani, Sobhan Nazari and Masood Jafari Kang, published in ‘Transportation Research Part A’. This study describes ways to incorporate social equity measures in transportation network planning. It discusses various social equity concepts and theories, reviews previous attempts to incorporate equity considerations into transport network modeling, describes various equity impacts that can result from transportation planning decisions, and suggests a framework for simultaneously optimizing network design and achieving social equity objectives, using bi-level integer programming models corresponding to seven major social equity approaches. This is more comprehensive and flexible than previous equity impact models. It can be used to evaluate and optimize the equity impacts of various infrastructure investment decisions.

“Ending Parking Minimums – Why, Where, Who, How” ( ). Free parking is a huge, unfair subsidy for motor vehicle ownership and use. Because of minimum parking requirements, most cities have 2-6 parking spaces per vehicle, each with $500-2,000 annualized costs. Every time a motorists spends a dollar on their car they are expecting somebody else – property owners, businesses and governments – to spend a dollar to park it. This is particularly unfair to car-free low-income households.

Does Road Widening Help Congestion?” ( ), KUTV News. This television news report investigates whether the State of Utah’s $2.1 billion roadway expansion program is an effective and cost effective way to reduce traffic congestion. It includes an interview with Todd Litman which unfortunately had terrible sound and visuals, because they actually recorded it off a laptop in their studio.

The Future Is Not What it Used to Be” in “Plan Canada: Special Edition | Celebrating 100 Years” ( ), by the Canadian Institute of Planners, pp. 181-185. This article examines how demographic and economic trends are affecting travel demands, and their implications for transport planning, based on the detailed report available at

“New York City congestion charge – what it can learn from London” ( ). New York City is poised to be the first US city to charge a fee to drivers in an effort to reduce traffic and raise funds for public transport. How might it work and what can it learn from London?

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Recent Planetizen Blogs ( <> ):

*           “Smart Congestion Costing: A Critical Evaluation of the ‘Urban Mobility Report’” ( ). The new “Urban Mobility Report” provides widely-cited congestion cost estimates. However, its analysis is neither comprehensive nor objective. Anybody using these estimates should understand its omissions and biases.

*           “The ‘War on Cars’ Is a Bad Joke” ( ). There is no war on cars. Everybody, including motorists, benefit from a more diverse and efficient transportation system. Let there be peace!

*           “Planners Can Help Increase Opportunity and Fairness” ( ). Transportation and land use planning decisions affect economic opportunity and mobility—the chance that children become more economically successful than their parents. We can help create more equitable communities.

*           “Fun With Statistics: Factors Affecting Motor Vehicle Travel” ( ). A few graphs provide insights into factors that affect the amount of motor vehicle travel in a community, and how driving can be reduced.

*           “Breaking the Cycle of Automobile Dependency” ( ). Many current planning practices reinforce a cycle of increased automobile use, more automobile-oriented community redevelopment, and reduced mobility options. There are good reasons to break this pattern.

*           “What the Market Can Bear: Defining Limits to Inclusive Housing Requirements” ( ). Inclusivity requirements should be used with caution. Increasing the portion of below-market housing units tends to reduce total housing production, particularly moderate-priced homes.

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“Transforming the Sacramento Region: Planning and Financing a Bold Policy Agenda for Climate Protection and Community Livability” ( ), Monday, September 16, 2:30-4:00pm, Sacramento City Council Chambers ( ). Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute will be presenting specific local and regional policies to encourage both alternative fuel vehicles and efficient transportation strategies to reduce vehicle travel.

Active Transportation” at “Smart Transportation for Intelligent Cities,” ( ), October 30, 9:15-10:15 am, Toronto, Canada. This presentation, with Ekke Kok, will discuss current research concerning ways to create physical environments that facilitate public fitness and health.

“Mobilizing Justice” ( ), Thursday and Friday, November 7-8, University of Toronto Scharborough.

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Automobile as Prison. The City as Freedom” ( ) by David (The Transportist) Levinson. The automobile has been pitched as a machine for freedom, but travelling inside a small metal box, strapped to a chair, forced to focus on the road while your life is threatened by two-ton projectiles doesn’t sound like freedom.

The Social Cost of Automobility, Cycling and Walking in the European Union” ( ), by Stefan Gössling, et al. This study compares various Cost-benefit-analyses (CBA) frameworks, and estimates the external and private cost of automobility, cycling and walking in Europe. Results suggest that each kilometer driven by car incurs an external cost of €0.11, while cycling and walking represent benefits of €0.18 and €0.37 per kilometer. The study recommends more comprehensive evaluation of transport policies and projects.

[Re]Evaluating How We Value Transportation: Research in Transportation Business & Management” ( ), edited by Wesley Marshall, Dan Piatkowski, Chris McCahill. This is cutting-edge research and there is something for everyone, at least for all you transportation planning nuts.

Stop Trying to Solve Traffic and Start Building Great Places” ( ) by Lara Fishbane, Joseph Kane and Adie Tomer. This blog summarizes why and how to change they way cities evaluate transport system performance.

“Introducing VMT – Vehicle Miles Traveled” ( ). Many jurisdictions are shifting from trying to maximize roadway Level of Service (LOS) to minimizing Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and associated traffic problems. This video explains these issues in an easy-to-understand way.

“How to Move More Cars, Faster (Congestion Pricing)” ( ), video interview with experts Sam Schwartz, and Jonas Eliasson.

The Top Ten Reason’s to Ignore the Urban Mobility Report” ( ), by Daniel Hertz. After a four year hiatus, the Texas Transportation Institute has once again generated its misleading Urban Mobility Report–and it’s still wrong.

To Solve the Climate Crisis, We Must Solve the Housing Crisis” ( ), by Daniel Kammen. This column summarizes research indicating that policy reforms that allow more compact development can help achieve affordability and emission reduction goals.

Cool Climate Network” ( ) measures annual household carbon footprint throughout the U.S., taking into account emissions from transportation, housing, food, goods and services, using heatmaps ( ). This indicates that urban neighborhoods and southern states have much lower total emissions (typically, about half) than sprawled locations and northern areas due to lower transport (driving) and building (heating)  emissions.

State-Level Strategies for Reducing Vehicle Miles of Travel” ( ), By Michelle Byars, Yishu Wei, and Susan Handy. This report explores how state policies related to transportation pricing, development, transportation investments and TDM programs can reduce vehicle travel.

A Tool to Estimate the Added VMT from Highway Expansions” ( ), By Michael Brenneis and Eric Sundquist. The National Center for Sustainable Transportation (NCST) has developed an induced travel demand calculator designed to calculate the additional vehicle travel resulting from highway expansions.

Missing Middle Housing Website” ( ), provides information for citizens, planners, builders and elected officials concerning Missing Middle Housing and how it can transform communities.

The Connectedness of Our Housing Ecosystem” ( ), by Daniel Herriges. This column summarizes new research by Evan Mast ( ), The Effect of New Luxury Housing on Regional Housing Affordability, which finds strong connections between new construction and increasing housing supply in more affordable neighborhoods. The analysis indicates that building 100 new luxury units allows 34-65 households to move out of lower-come neighborhoods, which increases affordability in those areas.

“Access and Safety in European Cities” ( ). This International Transport Forum project aims to provide a better understanding of the role of transport policy and infrastructure investment in improving access, safety and ultimately well-being in urban areas. Below are three recent reports.

*           “Improving Transport Planning and Investment Through the Use of Accessibility Indicators” ( ). This report examines how accessibility indicators can be implemented and used to improve transport planning.

*           “Road Safety in European Cities. Performance Indicators and Governance Solutions” ( ). This report benchmarks road safety performance for 72 urban areas. It finds that a modal shift away from private motor vehicles could significantly enhance road safety in dense urban areas and deliver public health benefits associated with increased physical activity and improved air quality.

*           “Benchmarking Accessibility in Cities: Measuring the Impact of Proximity and Transport Performance ( ). This report describes a framework for evaluating  urban accessibility based on the number of destinations (schools, hospitals, food shops, restaurants, people, recreational opportunities and green spaces) that can be reached on foot, by bicycle, public transport or car within a certain time. These indicators are applied in 121 cities in 30 European countries. The project also developed an interactive online visualisation tool that allows easy comparisons between the cities, destinations, transport modes, geographies and travel times.

From Mobility to Access for All: Expanding Urban Transportation Choices in the Global South” ( ). This World Resources Institute (WRI) report asks what cities can do to change the trajectory of the urban transportation sector so that it provides the under-served with more equitable access to opportunities. It identifies three key action areas for cities to improve access: rethinking the role of streets and who they serve, shifting to integrated transport systems, and tempering the demand for private vehicle use.

Commuting and Wellbeing: A Critical Overview of the Literature with Implications for Policy and Future Research” ( ). This study investigates factors that affect commuters’ wellbeing. People who walk or cycle to work are generally more satisfied with their commute than those who travel by car or public transport. Satisfaction decreases with duration of commute, regardless of mode used, and increases when travelling with company.

National Transport Policy and Cities: Key Policy Interventions to Drive Compact and Connected Urban Growth” ( ), by Philipp Rode, Catarina Heeckt and Nuno da Cruz. This report explores how national policies can support more compact and connected urban development and identifies five that global experts identified as particularly effective for making cities more accessible.

“How Bus Rapid Transit Eased Mexico City’s Grueling Commutes” ( ). Mexico City’s Metrobús bus rapid transit (BRT) system started in 2006 and has expanded to seven lines that cross the city and connect with other forms of transit. It offers frequent and fast service that has greatly improved the travel options for millions of residents.

Transit Insights” ( ) displays changes in public transit ridership, service characteristics, and demographics for the 55 most populous U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and their transit agencies.

“Why Cities with High Bicycling Rates are Safer for All Road Users”  ( ), by Wesley E. Marshall and Nicholas N. Ferenchak. Despite bicycling being considered ten times more dangerous than driving, the evidence suggests that high-bicycling-mode-share cities are not only safer for bicyclists but for all road users. This article investigate why.

“TRB Joint Subcommittee on Equity” ( ), Transportation Research Board. This new subcommittee will serve as a clearinghouse for research and related activities associated with transportation equity.

“Freeway Revolts!” ( ) by Jeffrey Brinkman and Jeffrey Lin. This Federal Reserve Bank report investigates how urban freeways caused slower growth in population, income, and land values in central areas, and faster growth in outlying areas. This likely contributed to urban sprawl.

End Parking Minimums” ( ), by Strong Towns, examines why and how to reduce or eliminate minimum parking requirements, and maps communities that are doing this.

Updated Models of Passenger Transport Related Energy Consumption of Urban Areas” ( ). This study analyzes per capita transport energy based on comparable data from 57 cities in 33 countries. It finds significant linear relations between transportation infrastructure, private car travel and energy consumption.

Estimating the Presence of Paved Surface Parking Lots in the Conterminous U.S. from Land-Use Coefficients” ( ), U.S. Geological Survey. This raster dataset spanning the conterminous United States estimates the proportion of each area represented by parking lots.

“Americans Shouldn’t Have to Drive, but the Law Insists on It; The Automobile Took Over Because the Legal System Helped Squeeze out the Alternatives” ( ), by Gregory H. Shill. This article examines how public policies have created car-centric communities and the economic social costs that result. It recommends policy reforms that reflect consensus social priorities such as health, prosperity, and equity.

Journey into an Immense Heart of Car Parking” ( ), by Elizabeth Jean Taylor. A brilliant reflection on the surprisingly fraught world of parking cars.

Streets ahead. Europe is Edging Towards Making Post-Car Cities a Reality” ( ), by The Economist. This article describes ways that some cities are becoming more multi-modal and less car-oriented.

“Why You Should Care That Fewer Kids Are Riding Bikes. We Owe it to Our Children to get them on Two Wheels” (, by Evan Weiss. Outside Magazine article on the benefits of creating communities where children can bicycle.

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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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