Given the obesity epidemic and other health problems associated with sedentary life styles, public health officials are promoting the concept of "active transportation" -- travel modes that involve physical exercise, such as walking and bicycling. Below are links to reports and publications that address this issue.
Active Design Guidelines: Promoting Physical Activity and Health in Design: Published by the City of New York, the guidelines discuss ways to build opportunities for daily physical activity into the built environment. (Note: After clicking this link, one is asked to answer a few questions -- e.g., zip code, profession, etc. -- but when those are answered and the "submit" link is clicked, the guidelines may be downloaded.)
Active Transportation for America: The Case for Increased Federal Investment in Walking and Bicycling: A report by Bikes Belong and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Active Transportation Plan: Manitoba, Canada
As the price of gasoline has risen, so has interest in more affordable transportation options. Although biking trips account for less than one percent of all trips in America, they represent between five and 10 percent of trips taken in such cities as Eugene and Corvallis, Oregon; Palo Alto, California; and Boulder, Colorado. In Davis, California, more than 20 percent of trips are made by bicycle. Information on ways to make communities more bike-friendly can be found through the links below:
Bicycle Transportation Alliance
Oregon Bicycle & Pedestrian Program
A balanced transportation system provides for good connections between local destinations. Ideally, such connections include pedestrian and bicycle paths as well as streets. Conversely, the cumulative effect of not connecting local streets between development parcels is traffic congestion on surrounding collectors and arterials. Ideas for enhancing the "connectivity" of local communities can be found in the resources listed below.
Making the Connection
Density and Design: High-density development, especially when coupled with mixed land uses, is regarded as critical to the success of public transportation and walkable neighborhoods. Such development not only provides the ridership needed to make public transportation financially viable, but it also offers a market for small local businesses located within walking distance of residential neighborhoods. When well-designed and respectful of the character of surrounding neighborhoods, high-density development is more likely to win community acceptance. When poorly designed, however, high-density development often generates strong opposition. The resources noted below discuss how communities in Oregon and around the country have addressed the design and other issues that can arise when high-density development is proposed.
Higher Density Development: Myth and Fact
Living Smart: Big Ideas for Small Lots
Design Guidelines for Downtowns and Transportation Corridors: Many communities have found that well-designed development in downtowns -- or in transportation corridors leading into city centers -- can help to encourage revitalization and new investment. Links to design guidelines in a number of cities can be found here.
|Form Based Codes|
In recent years cities have become interested in the concept of "form based codes" as a way to improve the mobility as well as the appearance of communities. In short, form based codes emphasize building types, dimensions, parking locations and facade features over land uses. These codes also favor mixed-use development, which brings local destinations into closer proximity to each other. Traditional zoning codes, on the other hand, emphasize land uses over a building's physical form. By rigidly separating land uses, zoning codes have often increased the auto dependency of communities while reducing their pedestrian friendliness. The Model Development Code for Small Cities of the Oregon Transportation and Growth Management Program is considered a hybrid code that incorporates certain features of a form-based code. Below are some web sites that provide more information on form based codes:
Form-Based Codes Institute
|Infill and Redevelopment|
Many older communities offer the kinds of transportation choices that are increasingly being sought in new developments. Historic Main Streets, downtowns, and older neighborhoods are frequently well-served by public transportation or are designed in such a way as to enable people to take many short trips by foot. To enhance the viability of older communities while taking advantage of the transportation assets they offer, many local governments are implementing "infill" and redevelopment strategies. The benefits of doing this -- and ways to do it -- are discussed in the resources listed below.
Infill and Redevelopment Handbook: A 135-page publication, produced by the Oregon Transportation & Growth Management (TGM) Program, describing strategies for filling in, or redeveloping, underused or deteriorated sections of existing communities in a way that expands transportation options.
|Land Use & Transportation|
Land use and transportation are flip sides of the same coin. Land use decisions can either open up or foreclose transportation options, while transportation investments can (and usually do) influence land-use patterns. Insights into, and research on, the relationships between land use and transportation are discussed in the following reports and papers:
|Model Code & User's Guide|
|Many local zoning codes discourage the creation or preservation of traditional neighborhoods and Main Streets in which people have meaningful transportation choices. Zoning-based parking, building setback, lot size and other requirements, for example, can deaden the pedestrian-friendliness of a community. To help small communities in Oregon promote development that enables people to get around more easily, the Transportation and Growth Management (TGM) Program created a new publication in June 2005: Model Development Code and User's Guide for Small Cities. The model code integrates transportation and land use planning with a view to expanding transportation options for Oregonians. |
The creation and management of parking for motor vehicles is an important, but challenging, transportation issue. Strategies for managing parking in ways that acommodate downtown revitalization, preservation of neighborhood livability, and adequate storage for cars are discussed in the resources listed below:
Beaverton Downtown Parking Solutions
Best Practices in Transportation Demand Management (from the Seattle Urban Mobility Plan. Scroll down to page 7B-1 on Parking Management)
The High Cost of Free Parking (Part 1, Part 2), by Donald Shoup, author of a book by the same name, at a forum sponsored by the Oregon Transportation & Growth Management Program in Eugene, Oregon, on February 5, 2007. See also The High Cost of Free Parking, by Donald Shoup
The Mythology of Parking, by Jeffrey Tumlin and Adam Millard-Ball
Parking Management Made Easy: A Guide to Taming the Downtown Parking Beast
Parking Spaces/Community Places: Finding the Balance Through Smart Growth Solutions
Right Size Parking (from King County Metro Transit)
Enhancing the "walkability" of a community provides many benefits. It helps to reduce traffic congestion. It enables people to integrate simple physical exercise -- walking -- into their daily routine. And it avoids the worsening of environmental problems, such as air pollution, water pollution, and the emission of greenhouse gases. For these and other reasons, many communities would like to make their residential and commercial areas more walkable. Resources for improving the pedestrian friendliness of cities and towns are discussed in the publications noted below:
Why People Don't Walk & What City Planners Can Do About It
|Public Health & Transportation|
|Recent conferences and studies have explored the relationships between urban form, transportation, and the physical fitness of Americans. There is a growing recognition that the way communities are designed and laid out can increase -- or rule out -- opportunities to integrate such simple physical exercise as walking or biking into one's daily routine. Articles and reports that explore this topic are noted below. |
F As In Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America, a report by the Trust for America's Health, August 2005 (see Section 2 of the report, which addresses the relationship between the built environment and physical fitness opportunities)
Does the Built Environment Influence Physical Activity? The Transportation Research Board Institute of Medicine examines this issue in a January 2005 report (Special Report 282).
Integrating Health and Physical Activity Goals Into Transportation Planning: The Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration cosponsored a roundtable on January 22, 2004, to discuss ways to enable transportation planners to incorporate health and activity goals into the transportation planning process.
Measuring the Health Effects of Sprawl, a summary by Smart Growth America of a national study by Reid Ewing and others on the relationship between urban form and physical fitness, August 28, 2003.
|Citizens are often concerned about cars traveling too fast on residential streets. A variety of tools -- e.g., speed humps, narrower lanes, curb extensions, etc. -- are being used by cities to "calm traffic" so that pedestrians (and especially children) can get around more safely. Resources on this topic: |
|Transport Costs of Housing|
Transportation costs rival the home mortgage in their impact on the American household budget. In 2003, transportation expenses accounted for 19.1% of the typical household budget. Although housing is considered affordable if it accounts for no more than 30% of a household's monthly budget, transportation costs related to housing locations are often ignored. A growing body of research has shown a strong relationship between mixed land uses, increased density, transit access, and pedestrian friendliness, on the one hand, and reduced automobile expenses, on the other. With the rising cost of fuel, the transportation savings achieved by living in walkable or transit-friendly communities can be considerable. Listed below are several resources that address this topic.
Bibliography (Victoria Transportation Institute)
Drive Less, Save More (Oregon's public awareness campaign)
Driven to Spend (Report by Surface Transportation Policy Project)
Location Efficient Mortgages
|Transportation Demand Mgmt.|
Transportation Demand Management (TDM) is a term used for strategies that result in more efficient use of transportation resources. Information resources on this topic include:
National TDM and Telework Clearinghouse
Victoria Transport Policy Institute
Wash DOT TDM
TGM: Better Ways to Better Places