Mobility Lab https://mobilitylab.org Moving People... Instead of Just Cars Thu, 23 Mar 2017 19:47:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Arlington to review parking recommendations for condos, apartments near Metro https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/23/arlington-review-parking-recs/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/23/arlington-review-parking-recs/#respond Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:39:26 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21663 This post originally appeared on the Arlington Transportation Partners blog. Each parking space in a garage can take up as much as 400 square feet, or 36 percent of an average Arlington County, Va., apartment, and spaces can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 each to build. The availability of parking also has a strong... Read more »

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This post originally appeared on the Arlington Transportation Partners blog.

Each parking space in a garage can take up as much as 400 square feet, or 36 percent of an average Arlington County, Va., apartment, and spaces can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 each to build. The availability of parking also has a strong influence on the transportation choices that we make. That is why county policy encourages staff and the Board to:

  • Ensure that minimum parking needs are met and excessive parking is not built
  • Allow reductions in parking at locations well served by other transportation modes
  • Reduce parking requirements for affordable housing

Arlington County is reviewing a part of its policy on how much automobile parking developers must build with new apartments and condominiums proposed for Arlington’s metro corridors.

A Working Group, made up of Arlington residents as well as business stakeholders appointed by the County Manager, has been meeting since September 2016. The Working Group is putting the finishing touches on a recommendation to County staff.

Seven elements for flexible-yet-predictable parking minimum requirements

The Working Group recommends that:

  1. Parking minimums should relate to how far the apartment or condo building is from a Metro station.
  2. For each committed-affordable unit, allow fewer parking spaces than for market-rate units.
  3. If a developer provides extra bike parking, bike sharing or car sharing amenities as part of the project, then allow fewer private-vehicle parking spaces to be built.
  4. Allow developers to build garages where apartments or condos share parking spaces with offices, retail and other uses, depending on the time of day.
  5. Developers should be able to supply some or all of their parking for apartments or condos in another building or garage within 800 feet of the building.
  6. In some cases, allow builders to construct fewer parking spaces if site conditions make building that parking especially difficult.
  7. If developers build more than a certain amount of parking, they must take steps to ensure that the building does not generate excessive levels of vehicle traffic.

The Working Group crafted these recommendations based on previously established County policy, six guiding principles that members wrote and adopted and current practices in other similar communities.

Taken together, the Working Group’s seven elements would add more predictability to the development-approval process for residents and developers, and it would allow developers more room to decide how much parking they will provide as an amenity to their prospective residents. This would allow parking supply to better match parking demand as many buildings in the Metro Corridors have excess parking. Furthermore, if developers were to choose to build less parking as a result, then the community could benefit from lower costs to produce housing – especially committed affordable housing.

Of course, off-street parking is only one component of Arlington’s parking supply. However, the County will not make changes to the Residential Permit Parking program or hours of operation of rates for meters based on the Working Group’s recommendation. It’s also important to note that the Working Group process will not change the Zoning Ordinance’s minimum requirements.

What happens next?

County staff will take the Working Group’s recommendation into consideration along with input from the public to create a recommendation for the County Manager to approve and send to the County Board for adoption at its June meeting.

Arlingtonians, want to get involved?

Get more information on the Working Group’s recommendation at the project website. Staff will be posting the Working Group’s report there and opening an online survey that you can complete. You can also see readings and summaries of prior meetings.

Keep an eye on the “Project Dates” section of the page for more events where you can listen and share your views.

Photo by Sam Kittner for Arlington Transportation Partners, www.kittner.com

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How can private industry help with San Diego’s mobility goals? – KPBS https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/23/how-can-private-industry-help-with-san-diego-s-mobility-goals-kpbs/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/23/how-can-private-industry-help-with-san-diego-s-mobility-goals-kpbs/#respond Thu, 23 Mar 2017 17:59:29 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21665 This is a compelling story of a man in San Diego, Philip Salzmann, who has given up driving to work because of the consistency of his 34-minute electric-bike ride across the city. And the incentives that his company offers to do so. “Traffic was getting too much for me,” Salzmann said. “Sometimes for 10 miles... Read more »

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This is a compelling story of a man in San Diego, Philip Salzmann, who has given up driving to work because of the consistency of his 34-minute electric-bike ride across the city. And the incentives that his company offers to do so.

“Traffic was getting too much for me,” Salzmann said. “Sometimes for 10 miles it would take — not always, but sometimes — an hour… I thought a lot about how to beat that system, and biked a few times, but I was too lazy. But then I got the electric bike, and now I can do it 90 percent of the time.”

His employer, Vertex, makes it easier, offering showers, indoor bike lockers and a $20 monthly bike repair stipend. Employees also get a fully subsidized public transit pass.

Vertex is part of a transportation demand management program that helped ease the approval of the company’s new research facility, currently under construction about a quarter mile away from its current home.

Not all employers have the resources to offer the kinds of biking and transit subsidies that Vertex gives its employees. Nicole Capretz, executive director of the nonprofit Climate Action Campaign, said the city needs to talk with those companies about what they can do to encourage their employees to forgo driving. And, she said, the city can always lead by example.

“I’d love to see the mayor ride his bike to work once a week,” she said. “Something that, again, sets the right tone and signals a cultural shift, and signals that we are all in this together, and we all have to do our part.”

Read the complete article at KPBS San Diego Public Radio & TV

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Report envisions possible paths transportation technologies may take us in next 20 years https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/22/report-envisions-possible-paths-transportation-technologies-20-years/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/22/report-envisions-possible-paths-transportation-technologies-20-years/#respond Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:20:08 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21642 A version of this post originally appeared on contributor Hannah Budnitz’s blog, Go-How.com. As in the United States, how people will get around Great Britain in the near future is especially unclear given a number of emerging technologies. A recent report from RAND explored this uncertainty, offering three alternative visions of the future of mobility,... Read more »

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A version of this post originally appeared on contributor Hannah Budnitz’s blog, Go-How.com.

As in the United States, how people will get around Great Britain in the near future is especially unclear given a number of emerging technologies. A recent report from RAND explored this uncertainty, offering three alternative visions of the future of mobility, which are intended to cover the spectrum of probability, rather than a forecast of reality. The aim of the project, according to one of the report’s authors, was to review emerging technologies that influence transport efficiencies, and envision the multiple potential futures that might encompass the actual future.

Why? The one certainty in this crystal ball-gazing is that technologies affecting transport, which have not changed substantially for decades, are changing now and will change not only how we travel, but also our lifestyles, even our societies. So we need to have vision if we are to be ready for it.

It is not only the giants of the tech world that realize this. Did you see Ford’s Superbowl ad? The car company is promoting a vision of mobility for the future where it would be selling a lot more than just cars. Will it be selling “mobility as a service?” Car manufacturers have to offer different models of ownership, operation, and efficiency if they are to stay in the transport game in the future.

Transport planners have to change their tactics too. Cost-benefit analyses for investment in infrastructure currently calculate 60 years into the future – an unhelpful timescale when technology is changing so quickly that predicting possibilities for even 2035 is challenging. Also, transport appraisal has never been much good at predicting social impacts, but if we don’t want the RAND report’s dystopian vision of a “Digital Divide” – where income inequality separates who has access to major technologies – planners need to correct that fault quickly. More investment in adaptable infrastructure should happen as well, so as to not lock society into 60 years of something that will be obsolete in 20.

Meanwhile, a lot of the buzz is around fully autonomous vehicles, which will probably be electric and shared as well. The RAND report’s “Driving Ahead” scenario focuses on this technology, whilst the UK government is investing heavily to be a world leader in its development. The UK research agency Transport Systems Catapult offers some thoughts on this future, summarizing the many potential benefits of going driverless.

However, it is clear from discussion around the report’s release that it is not only the difficulty of transition that may threaten an autonomously-driven society. Land use planners face a capacity conundrum. If autonomous vehicles result in much less parking adjacent to homes and commercial uses, what should that land be used for instead?

Other questions crop up as well. The vehicles themselves still need to be off-road some of the time, stored and maintained. Where is that going to happen? How do streets need to be re-configured for picking up and dropping off instead of parking? If the reduced travel cost and additional productive time offered by autonomous vehicles attract more use than the additional road capacity their efficient movement frees up, is the answer to build more road infrastructure?

The RAND report specifically ignores the need for new infrastructure. But even roads aside, all the scenarios require more electricity and information technology infrastructure, built to be as resilient as possible in the face of frequent severe weather and other disruptions.

Yet it is not all doom and gloom. Freight drivers may not be out of a job if the complicated work at either end of the journey becomes ever more involved with shared loading and consolidated delivery. Children may be able to play on the streets again as space is freed from parking, and if autonomous vehicles can be better trusted with their safety. And if policy makers and planners and transport practitioners are proactive about standards, regulations, taxation and investment, we can push the future to better resemble the RAND report’s more utopian “Live Local” vision, where a cost for driving replaces the gas tax and mobility is not only a service, but an equitable one.

Photo: A highway in the UK (Matthew Wilkinson, Flickr, Creative Commons).

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Soon D.C. employers may pay people to not drive to work – Streetsblog USA https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/22/soon-d-c-employers-may-pay-people-to-not-drive-to-work-streetsblog-usa/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/22/soon-d-c-employers-may-pay-people-to-not-drive-to-work-streetsblog-usa/#respond Wed, 22 Mar 2017 15:29:21 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21648 It’s understandable that, in a competitive job environment like Washington D.C., some employers would feel the need to offer employees the perk of paying for their driving commute. That’s a great element of capitalism. But it’s lousy for society, causing traffic gridlock and workers who end up being angry and unhealthy. So it’s encouraging to... Read more »

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It’s understandable that, in a competitive job environment like Washington D.C., some employers would feel the need to offer employees the perk of paying for their driving commute. That’s a great element of capitalism. But it’s lousy for society, causing traffic gridlock and workers who end up being angry and unhealthy. So it’s encouraging to see the D.C. Council examining the idea of “parking cash-out,” essentially saying, “sure, you can drive, but we’ll also offer you some incentives for not driving.”

Employers who pay the costs of parking for their employees are providing “an invitation to drive to work alone,” in the words of parking guru Donald Shoup.

The Transportation Benefits Equity Act would require employers who offer parking benefits to employees to give them the option of taking a “cash out” instead or pay a fee. More specifically, they could take an equivalent amount as the transit benefit, the bicycle commuter benefit, cash or one of these benefits and cash.

Regardless, the fee would still help cyclists, pedestrians and transit users as it would go to a Transportation Demand Management Fund, which could be used for promoting, improving access to, and educating the public about alternative transportation; reducing SOV trips and developing transportation innovations.

Read the complete article at Streetsblog USA

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Mexico City’s Metro map uses a different icon for each station – Greater Greater Washington https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/22/mexico-citys-metro-map-uses-a-different-icon-for-each-station-greater-greater-washington/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/22/mexico-citys-metro-map-uses-a-different-icon-for-each-station-greater-greater-washington/#respond Wed, 22 Mar 2017 15:04:13 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21644 We often talk about the best ways for transit agencies to make their data more available and usable for passengers, but equally important is the way information is displayed in stations and on buses and subways. Mexico City serves as a great example of one way to do information in an exciting way. The city... Read more »

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We often talk about the best ways for transit agencies to make their data more available and usable for passengers, but equally important is the way information is displayed in stations and on buses and subways. Mexico City serves as a great example of one way to do information in an exciting way. The city goes visual with station icons, rather than simply using text.

The same designer who brought D.C. the Metrorail map’s now iconic thick lines and large circles also designed the map for Mexico City’s Metro. And while the final version of D.C.’s map didn’t include one particularly stylish element, Mexico City’s did.

“[The icons] communicated better than language for the obvious reason of not having to be translated, but it also gave you a really quick visual reference to something, and the icons were designed well,” designer Lance Wyman told CityLab in a 2015 interview.

For example, the icon for the airport terminal station is an airplane with a control tower – signalling to riders that this is where they alight to catch a flight. Elsewhere, Wyman used symbols of Mexico City’s history and culture, like an aqueduct or the opera house, for nearby stations.

“Where the system really works is when you’re inside a train,” Wyman told CityLab. “They have a line map, and this came from designing the first line for our system, over the car doors. When you come into the station the line map is sequential with the icons. And then in the station on the walls they have the icon for that station.”

Read the complete article at Greater Greater Washington

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Study: People on bikes break the law to stay safe, drivers do it to save time – Bicycling Magazine https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/21/study-people-on-bikes-break-the-law-to-stay-safe-drivers-do-it-to-save-time-bicycling-magazine/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/21/study-people-on-bikes-break-the-law-to-stay-safe-drivers-do-it-to-save-time-bicycling-magazine/#respond Tue, 21 Mar 2017 19:21:42 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21637 Sitting at a stop light can often make a person on a bike feel like a sitting duck. Now a massive new study has been published that confirms why they often don’t regard traffic signs and signals (almost entirely there for the sake of cars). More than 70 percent of the time, when cyclists break... Read more »

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Sitting at a stop light can often make a person on a bike feel like a sitting duck. Now a massive new study has been published that confirms why they often don’t regard traffic signs and signals (almost entirely there for the sake of cars).

More than 70 percent of the time, when cyclists break traffic laws, they do so because they feel they need to in order to stay safe. Drivers, meanwhile, break traffic laws at an equal or even higher rate, but do so most often (77 percent of the time) to save time.

Most of us (85 percent) are either entirely law-abiding or engage only in minor infringements, which the authors define as those of minimal risk or potential conflict with other road users. An example might be rolling a four-way stop sign when no traffic is present (a maneuver called the Idaho Stop, which is actually legal in that state).

The trove of data includes tidbits like how recreational riders break traffic laws slightly more than those who ride for “utilitarian” purposes; unregistered voters are (narrowly) the most flagrant rulebreakers; and unsurprisingly, that those who admit they have almost no knowledge of road rules are by far the most reckless.

The evidence seems to bear out what cyclists have long known about our behavior: We’re not trying to be jerks; we just want to get home without getting hit.

Read the complete article at Bicycling

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Bikeshare operators addressing rebalancing and other fixes to maximize reliability https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/21/bikeshare-techies-rebalancing-maximize-reliability/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/21/bikeshare-techies-rebalancing-maximize-reliability/#respond Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:51:50 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21621 Other programmers at CaBi Hack Night sought to better understand riding connections between stations and data accessibility issues Bike rebalancing is one of the most costly and inefficient issues that bikeshare systems face. The constant need for rebalancing manifests most frustratingly in “dockblocking,” those times when riders reach a station to find all of its docks filled... Read more »

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Other programmers at CaBi Hack Night sought to better understand riding connections between stations and data accessibility issues

Bike rebalancing is one of the most costly and inefficient issues that bikeshare systems face.

The constant need for rebalancing manifests most frustratingly in “dockblocking,” those times when riders reach a station to find all of its docks filled and must keep riding on to the next one. It’s telling that many past Transportation Techies presentations have focused on how best to avoid being dockblocked, and that bikeshare operators are now focusing their efforts on addressing this and other demand problems.

Motivate, which operates Capital Bikeshare, is looking to riders to help address the problem in a pilot with New York City’s Citi Bike, which it also operates. The program, called Bike Angels, encourages participating customers to rebalance bikes as they ride. Those who ride a bike from a full station to one lacking bikes receive points that can be redeemed for raffle tickets and membership extensions. Motivate considers the program a success, with “angels” now providing more than 10 percent of the system’s rebalancing on busy days.

Alex Tedeschi, a GIS developer at bikeshare company Social Bicycles, dug into trip data for the Citi Bike fleet and mapped it to visualize how widespread rebalancing trips – rides taken against the commuting flow that return bikes to emptier stations – are for the system. While he found that rebalancing trips dropped 5 percent from 2013 to 2015, it is still a prevalent behavior.

citibike station type

Citi Bike station usage types, in three different colors.

According to Tedeschi, there are consistent patterns for availability and ridership for every station in the system. His breakdown of bike availability shows three distinct groups of station behavior, largely depending on their location in New York. Orange stations in the above map, for example, are places where riders will leave bikes in the morning, but not take them in the afternoon. While he calculated riders stand a 3.4 percent chance of being dockblocked overall, in neighborhoods like the Lower East Side, the likelihood of striking out is closer to 8 percent.

Social Bicycles, whose systems are “dockless” bikeshare, claims to have found an alternative to rebalancing vans by offering financial incentives to return bikes to areas that are considered “hubs. Colin K. Hughes, Social Bicycle’s director of strategic development, explained how the computer “brain” on a bikeshare bike’s fender collects an array of GPS data and allows customers to park and find SoBi’s bikes anywhere within its service area.

But to ensure the bikes spread themselves evenly and that people without smartphones can find them, Social Bicycles systems have established hubs, small geographic areas rather than limited-capacity stations. Some systems incentivize users to return bikes to reliable areas and charge a convenience fee for parking elsewhere. Because of this structure, Social Bicycles found the vast majority of bikes make it back to a hub within three trips, reducing the worry that bikes will become stranded in far-away areas.

Know your network

Riding conditions also play a major role in how customers use bikeshare systems. The availability of comfortable routes contributes to how or if people bike, and Capital Bikeshare data creates a useful starting point to understand a jurisdiction’s overall network.

Tracy Hadden Loh presented an analysis of how Capital Bikeshare stations in Arlington County connect with each other along comfortable routes. While the average station connected to 19 others via low-stress streets, there were 21 with no such comfortable connections at all. These areas remain inaccessible to many potential cyclists, but Loh also showed how relatively small, stress-reducing changes would better connect Capital Bikeshare stations, and therefore the bike network overall.

James Graham of the District Department of Transportation shared the agency’s efforts to make Capital Bikeshare’s live data as accessible to as many people as possible. Since not everybody is a developer, Graham explained, changes to the data feed can be confusing, especially during disruptive events like January’s inauguration, when several bikeshare stations were closed. Now, by combining the system information with GIS-compatible code, Capital Bikshare’s data is more useful to more people and agencies.

Michael Schade added the latest Capital Bikeshare ridership data to his visualization tool that examines system-wide and neighborhood-specific bikeshare usage. The new 2016 data includes the first few months of bikeshare activity in Fairfax County. The map’s “heat map” function displays high ridership areas and, not surprisingly, shows high activity at downtown D.C. Metro stations, but the view can be toggled by jurisdiction to closely examine other areas. Schade also added a boundary tool that helps focus on specific areas by capturing stations in a neighborhood or a transit corridor like 16th Street.

And at last, someone has answered a question that only the most ambitious bikeshare riders have considered: how long would it take to bike to every Capital Bikeshare station in the system? Jonathan Street determined the most efficient route and found that, in order to reach all 441 locations, the shortest route is 264.6 miles. Supposedly the ride should take 32 hours and 10 minutes. Just imagine the time overage charge on that ride.

Photo: Colin Hughes of Social Bicycles presenting at CaBi Hack Night (M.V. Jantzen, Flickr, Creative Commons).

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Fully autonomous vehicles may make us safer, but could add to traffic https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/20/autonomous-vehicles-safety-add-traffic/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/20/autonomous-vehicles-safety-add-traffic/#comments Mon, 20 Mar 2017 16:18:32 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21604 Split of benefits and costs could spark much-needed national transportation discussion Just what a future transportation system with autonomous vehicles looks like isn’t completely clear-cut. However, Kara Kockelman, a University of Texas-based leading academic on the subject, has predictions for their economic impacts. In a South by Southwest presentation last week, she put forth a... Read more »

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Split of benefits and costs could spark much-needed national transportation discussion

Just what a future transportation system with autonomous vehicles looks like isn’t completely clear-cut.

However, Kara Kockelman, a University of Texas-based leading academic on the subject, has predictions for their economic impacts. In a South by Southwest presentation last week, she put forth a rapid-fire, yet nuanced, synopsis of the numerous studies she’s completed with UT students on an approaching autonomous future.

“I don’t think these cars are going to help us with congestion. I think they’re going to make it worse,” Kockelman said, adding this this will be an area that will require crucial legislation. “But I think they will save us on safety.”

Safety is certainly a top selling point upon which auto and tech experts will rely as they push autonomous vehicles as a future transportation solution.

The nearly 33,000 U.S. traffic deaths and 6 million crashes in 2014, according to Kockelman, created a cost of more than $500 billion. Driver error caused more than 90 percent of those crashes, and she said AVs would dramatically reduce that number, since at least 40 percent of those deaths resulted from alcohol, drugs, fatigue, and/or distraction.

With 100 percent adoption of AVs, the country would gain $488 billion annually in “pain and suffering” avoided from car crashes. That equates to $1,530 each year per person in the United States.

The congestion side may be a much trickier message for auto and tech experts to pitch to the public. Kockelman calculated that, in 2014, traffic created 7 billion hours of delay and caused $160 billion in economic loss.

On top of that, the bonus of “productivity en route” would be a $645 billion gain to the economy each year.

Add together the two economic gains – pain and suffering plus productivity – and the country would save a whopping $1.4 trillion in costs. On the per capita side, that comes to $4,419 per person in the country.

However, Kockelman balances the positives with the many consequences that would likely domino throughout society, including:

  • Longer travel distances, including people more likely to take induced driverless trips to destinations they currently wouldn’t drive to due to stress or other factors
  • More driving trips by people who are presently unlicensed or have barriers to driving
  • Less air travel by passengers
  • Less rail travel by freight
  • Possibly larger, less-efficient vehicles for longer trips, and
  • More sprawling land use
SXSW AV

Kockelman and Loftus-Otway presenting at SXSW. Photo by author.

Kockelman continued, saying these side effects could, in turn, increase congestion and infrastructure damage in many places. This would create a need for “systems to be operated more efficiently, equitably, and sustainably, including incentives for ride-sharing and non-motorized travel, route guidance, credit-based congestion pricing, and micro-tolling.”

“We’re going to see a lot more travel, but hopefully we’ll travel together, so that will avoid congestion,” she said. Kockelman added that improved technology should make tolling more efficient and that better public transportation and true ridesharing (as opposed to Uber- and Lyft-like ride-hailing) will be keys along the autonomous path.

Perhaps most importantly, she and her co-presenter Lisa Loftus-Otway, also from UT-Austin, said AVs offer a momentary chance to have a national conversation about transportation in the U.S. – something that has never truly happened on this scale.

“We’ve never really had an honest discussion on what transportation costs us,” Loftus-Otway said. “Terminology matters and [for example, we] shouldn’t call it a gas tax. It’s really a usage fee. Growing up, I never really knew how we paid for transportation. I guess I used to think the road fairy paid for it.”

Hopefully the AVs that appear in the near-term will help people better understand how transportation works. And then again, it may take some deliberate, and creative, outreach to help people understand the issue.

“Hopefully you all have been inside [an autonomous vehicle],” Kockelman told the audience, before laughing, “I have … and it’s pretty boring.”

Photo: Busy freeway (Rafael Castillo, Flickr, Creative Commons).

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Autonomous cars will turn back the clock on sustainable cities – Cities of the Future https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/20/autonomous-cars-will-turn-back-the-clock-on-sustainable-cities-cities-of-the-future/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/20/autonomous-cars-will-turn-back-the-clock-on-sustainable-cities-cities-of-the-future/#respond Mon, 20 Mar 2017 15:57:19 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21613 Although it’s still a rare thing to hear experts worry about driverless cars creating worse traffic in the future, the rumbling is starting to get louder. Pablo Valerio recently documented this trend over at Cities of the Future, quoting traffic-analysis legend Sam Schwartz. Within the next 10 years autonomous cars could reverse the trend to free... Read more »

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Although it’s still a rare thing to hear experts worry about driverless cars creating worse traffic in the future, the rumbling is starting to get louder. Pablo Valerio recently documented this trend over at Cities of the Future, quoting traffic-analysis legend Sam Schwartz.

Within the next 10 years autonomous cars could reverse the trend to free cities from private vehicles, instead flooding the streets with even more cars, undermining public transit, and leaving no space for other uses.

The companies developing autonomous cars are not interested in getting people to walk more or use public transport, but to offer on-demand private transport for the masses, in many cases moving people back to cars.

During a recent conference about streetcars and public transport, former NYC Traffic Commissioner Samuel Schwartz, a.k.a. Gridlock Sam, author of “Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars”, said that the arrival of autonomous cars will increase the Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), reverse the millennial trend eschewing driving, decimate public transport, and increase the occurrence of inactivity related illnesses.

The bottom line is how cities choose to embrace this new trend. Autonomous cars are coming, and nothing can stop them. But cities should think hard about the potential impact of having more cars clog the streets, even electric ones. It will mean abandoning sustainability and other benefits that walking, cycling, and public transport bring to residents.

Read the complete article at Cities of the Future

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Capturing major DC events on bike and walking counters https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/17/bike-ped-counter-major-events-options/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/17/bike-ped-counter-major-events-options/#respond Fri, 17 Mar 2017 16:18:27 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21595 Bike/ped traffic counter spikes for disruptive events emphasize importance of transportation options Arlington has 38 bike and pedestrian counters along its trails and bike lanes, six of which capture how many people cross the Potomac River into Washington, D.C., every day. Two counters are located on Memorial Bridge, two on Key Bridge, one on Roosevelt... Read more »

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Bike/ped traffic counter spikes for disruptive events emphasize importance of transportation options

Arlington has 38 bike and pedestrian counters along its trails and bike lanes, six of which capture how many people cross the Potomac River into Washington, D.C., every day. Two counters are located on Memorial Bridge, two on Key Bridge, one on Roosevelt Bridge, and one on the 14th Street Bridge.

The counters provide a look at what kind of bike/ped activity occurs on bridges into D.C. when there have been major events that disrupt street traffic and create crowding on transit. The bike and pedestrian daily counts can show how people are thinking as to when they resort to two wheels or their own feet.

How did the numbers of people in Arlington traveling by bike or foot compare to bike/ped ratios on normal weekends or holidays, when commuter traffic is more typical? Looking into this change could clarify how residents seek alternatives when major events disrupt transit and car traffic.

counter events

The events

Of the recent events captured in counters, the Women’s March induced the highest turnout by far, with a nearly 500 percent increase in bike and pedestrian traffic above the average weekend day or holiday. Meanwhile, Trump’s Inauguration doubled typical counts.

The travel ban protest, on January 29, 2017, drew about a 40 percent increase. As a small-scale event organized with little advance notice, the protest is still a notable recent event, as it drew thousands into the streets of downtown D.C.

The Pope’s visit to DC and Obama’s inauguration both induced a mild increase in traffic. In these cases, as with the Trump inauguration and Women’s March, much of the crowd likely came from out of town. It seems, though, that street closures around the Pope’s visit encouraged many to attempt a bike ride. Also notable: the Pope visited in September, when the weather was much more comfortable for riding.

Overall, pedestrian traffic seems less responsive to events than bike traffic. Perhaps the speed of biking allows bicycles to better replace transit and driving options. In each case, there are multiple reasons why more people might be biking or walking across the Potomac. In many instances the event closures force drivers or transit riders to switch modes in order to get to their usual destinations. In other cases, the events draw new visitors and curious Arlington residents into the District, who may augment normal counter figures.

The total attendance numbers are important to recognize: The travel ban protest, at an estimated 5,000 in attendance, was small, as a reactive protest organized in just two days. Meanwhile, Obama’s 2013 Inauguration drew 1,000,000 attendees, and Trump’s Inauguration and the Women’s March brought in at at least 250,000 and 500,000 respectively. The Pope’s visit to D.C. doesn’t seem to have cut and clear attendance numbers, as he traveled to multiple destinations within the District, but he spoke to a crowd of 11,000 people on the White House lawn on September 23, 2015.

Weather is another significant factor that should be recognized: Trump’s inauguration faced cold rain, and Obama’s 2013 ceremony was cool and cloudy. The Pope’s fall visit, however, was largely sunny and temperate.

The Memorial Bridge counters do not distinguish between bicyclists and pedestrians so that counter was only included in the total counts, but not in the individual bike and pedestrian breakdown. For the percent increase calculations, traffic counts on the day of the event were compared to weekend and holiday averages for the same month they occurred in (excluding the days of the events themselves).

Regardless of the exact reasons for the new biking and walking trips, the raised counts highlight the availability of additional travel options that can ease the impacts of major events on the D.C. area.

Photo: Pedestrians and a bicyclist on the Arlington side of the Memorial Bridge, looking eastward into D.C. (Sam Kittner for Mobility Lab, www.kittner.com)

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