Discover: Transportation Solutions

25% of all trips in the United States are under one mile long, but 75% of them are made by automobile. Part of the traffic congestion communities experience comes from drivers traveling very short distances. Making it easier, safer, and more enjoyable to take these short trips by foot or bike could have a huge impact on traffic congestion by reducing the number of vehicles only making short trips. Just 10% fewer vehicles on the road could potentially yield a 10-30% decrease in travel time. That is an achievable benchmark if we focus efforts and resources toward reducing trips, one car at a time.

How might we do it? This Discover post explores two of the many strategies.

Increased Cycling

  • You might think that riding a bike is just for fun or recreation, but more and more people across the nation are commuting by bicycle. Where a typical person can walk one mile in twenty minutes, he or she can travel three to four miles by bicycle in the same time. (Source)
  • How do we get more people trying bicycles? Get them on the road! Open Streets events are happening across the nation, and Ciclovia is a movement taking over the streets in Los Angeles, Madison, and….ATLANTA! These events close streets to vehicles but leave them open to pedestrians and people on bicycles, giving people a chance to try a new way of traveling, in a less stressful environment.
  • The 1960s car culture threatened Denmark’s history of cycling, but they have used the past 30 years to reverse the car culture. Portland, Oregon, and Washington, DC, are two examples of cities in the United States that have increased the number of people who commute by bicycle. How have they done it?Bike_Commuting_Growth_2015_final

Example: Washington, DC

  • As of 2014, 4.5% of commuters (or 15,000 people per day) in Washington, DC, traveled by bicycle. From 1990 to 2014, the District installed over 65 miles of bicycle lanes. Over the same time period, the percentage of commuters traveling by bicycle increased about 3.8%, and commuting trips by car decreased almost 10%! (Source)

DC bicycle commuting

Example: Portland, Oregon

  • Portland, Oregon, is well-known for their bicycling infrastructure. In 2014, about 7% of the community rode a bicycle to work (Source). How did they get there? It took some time! (Source)
    • 1973 target: Build 190 miles of bikeways
    • 1992: 83 miles of bikeways built
    • 1996: 190 miles built and a new target (445 more miles) established
    • 2008: 274 miles built generating 16,711 daily trips, accounting for 6.4% of commute trips
    • Today: About 350 miles of bikeways and a new target: 630 miles
  • Here is an example of how streets can transform: In the 1980’s, SE Lincoln Street in Portland was considered a collector road; in 2006, it’s a “bike boulevard” that allows vehicle travel but prioritizes bicycle traffic.

Travel Demand Management

What is Travel Demand Management (TDM)?

  • TDM involves helping people change their travel behavior by using different modes, traveling at different times, making fewer or shorter trips, or taking different routes.

What are some of the ways TDM is used?

  • Ridehailing: Services like Uber and Lyft can be used to improve connections to transit in areas that may be too far to walk. In Centennial, Colorado, the local transit agency provides free Lyft rides to and from a light-rail station. Area residents, employees, and visitors can request a ride using a transportation app that also provides information about transit, walking, and biking directions.
  • Unbundling parking: Parking in office or apartment complexes often goes unused, even in suburban settings. Parking is expensive to build, and the costs of unused spaces are passed on to tenants. In Sunnyvale, California, one apartment complex “unbundled” the cost of parking, allowing tenants to pay lower rents in conjunction for a fee of $300 per year for each parking space. A recent study shows that 24% of parking spaces at multifamily buildings goes unused, even during peak times. This excess parking costs the landlord (and by extension, tenants) $8.6 million per year.

What are some of its benefits?

  • TDM can save our community money by reducing the need for new roads. Widening a highway from 4 to 6 lanes costs $4 million per mile in addition to environmental, operating, and maintenance costs
  • TDM can save employers money by reducing the need for parking. Structured parking can cost between $25,000 and $40,000 a space, which is often passed on to employees and consumers.
  • TDM can save employees money by allowing them to have one fewer car. Owning and operating a car costs over $10,000 per year, compared to just over $1000 for a year’s worth of MARTA monthly transit passes or just over $300 for a bicycle.

Would TDM work in Sandy Springs?

  • TDM is already being used in the area, with success! Perimeter Connects, a program of the Perimeter Community Improvement District, began providing services to Perimeter CID member organizations in early 2016, focused on helping employers offer services and programs based on the many different transportation options available to them. This program is working to strengthen PCID member organizations’ access to MARTA, shuttles, ride share, cycling and more!