VTPI Newsletter - Spring 2011
Victoria Transport Policy Institute
"Efficiency - Equity - Clarity"
Spring 2011 Vol. 11, No. 2
The Victoria Transport Policy Institute is an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transportation problems. The VTPI website (http://www.vtpi.org ) has many resources addressing a wide range of transport planning and policy issues. VTPI also provides consulting services.
“Critique of the National Association of Home Builders’ Research On Land Use Emission Reduction Impacts” (www.vtpi.org/NHBAcritique.pdf )
This report critiques National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) research concerning how various land use factors affect travel activity and pollution emissions, and therefore the impacts and benefits of smart growth policies. The NAHB contends that smart growth is an ineffective emission reduction strategy, but these conclusions are based on an inaccurate summation of its own research. Summarized in “A Stupid Attack On Smart Growth," Planetizen Blog (http://www.planetizen.com/node/49772 ).
“A New Social Equity Agenda For Sustainable Transportation; Draft Report” (www.vtpi.org/equityagenda.pdf ) by Todd Litman and Marc Brenman.
This report discusses the importance of incorporating social equity and environmental justice objectives into transport policy and planning analysis. It recommends a systematic and comprehensive social equity impact evaluation framework. This analysis considers how various transport planning distortions tend to reduce transport system diversity, which reduces transport options increases various costs that are particularly harmful to disadvantaged people. This comprehensive analysis framework can help identify integrated, win-win solutions, which achieve multiple social, economic and environmental objectives. This approach can help build broader coalitions among diverse interest groups.
Changing Vehicle Travel Price Sensitivities, The Rebounding Rebound Effect (www.vtpi.org/VMT_Elasticities.pdf ).
There is growing interest in various transportation pricing reforms to help reduce traffic congestion, accidents, energy consumption and pollution emissions. Their effectiveness is affected by the price sensitivity of transport, that is, the degree that travelers respond to price changes, measured as elasticities (the percentage change in vehicle travel caused by a percentage change in price). Lower elasticities (price changes have relatively little impact on vehicle travel) imply that pricing reforms are not very effective at achieving objectives; that higher prices significantly harm consumers; and rebound effects (additional vehicle travel that results from increased fuel efficiency) are small so strategies such as fuel economy mandates are relatively effective at conserving fuel and reducing emissions. Higher elasticities imply that price reforms are relatively effective, consumers are able to reduce vehicle travel, and rebound effects are relatively large. Some studies found that price elasticities declined during the last quarter of the Twentieth Century, but recent evidence described indicates that transport is becoming more price sensitive. This report discusses the concepts of price elasticities and rebound effects, reviews information on vehicle travel and fuel price elasticities, examines evidence of changes in price elasticity values, and discusses policy implications.
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Todd Litman (2011), "Why and How to Reduce the Amount of Land Paved for Roads and Parking Facilities, " Environmental Practice, Journal of the National Association of Environmental Professionals, Vol. 13, No. 1, March, pp. 38-46 (http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=ENP ).
This article estimates the amount of land that is paved for roads and parking facilities in typical urban areas, examines the full economic, social and environmental costs of this impervious surface, and discusses the amount of road and parking land area that can be considered optimal. The analysis indicates that, in a typical urban area, about three times as much land is devoted to roads and parking as to residential structures, and that per-capita road and parking facility areas vary significantly depending on planning practices, with much higher rates in areas that have automobile-oriented transport systems and sprawled land use. It describes specific policy reforms that can reduce the amount of land paved for transport facilities.
Todd Litman (2011), "Pay-As-You-Drive Vehicle Insurance in British Columbia," Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (www.pics.uvic.ca/assets/pdf/publications/PAYD%20Insurance_May2011.pdf ).
This report describes various pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) vehicle insurance price structures, quantifies their impacts and benefits if applied in British Columbia, and recommends a research program to evaluate this strategy. It compares "basic PAYD," which relies on verified odometer readings to measure vehicle travel, and "instrumented PAYD" which involves electronic tracking of vehicle travel. Because basic PAYD has much lower implementation costs and raises no privacy concerns, it has a much larger potential market, and so could provide much larger impacts and benefits. This report was published by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, an academic research organization that develops innovative climate change solutions. Also see “Pay-as-you-drive auto insurance touted...again”, The Province, 18 May 2011 (http://www.theprovince.com/technology/Report+recommending+kilometre+insurance/4801575/story.html )
Dan Burden and Todd Litman (2011), "America Needs Complete Streets," ITE Journal, April, pp. 36-43 (www.vtpi.org/ITE_comp_st.pdf ).
Aging population; rising fuel costs; congestion, health, and environmental concerns; and changing consumer preferences are all increasing demand for walking, cycling, and public transit. These trends indicate that an integrated multimodal transportation system is required if we are to meet future travel demands.
Todd Litman (2011), "Can Smart Growth Policies Conserve Energy and Reduce Emissions?" Portland State University’s Center for Real Estate Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 2, Spring, pp. 21-30 (www.vtpi.org/REQJ.pdf ).
This article examines the role smart growth can play in achieving planning objectives, including energy conservation and emission reductions. It summarizes existing literature on land use impacts on travel activity, energy consumption and pollution emissions. It examines claims that smart growth policies are ineffective and harmful. Also see Robert Steuteville’s blog, "Does Smart Growth Reduce Carbon Emissions? Bet The House On It," New Urban Network (http://newurbannetwork.com/news-opinion/blogs/robert-steuteville/14788/does-smart-growth-reduce-carbon-emissions-bet-house-it ).
Recent Planetizen Blogs (http://www.planetizen.com/blog/2394 ):
'A War On Cars? Let There Be Peace! ' (http://www.planetizen.com/node/48649 )
'Dagwood Should Be Fat, Sick and Impoverished' (http://www.planetizen.com/node/49265 )
New Geography Comments (http://www.newgeography.com/users/todd-litman ).
Let’s be friends. Todd Litman regularly posts on his Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=550795001 ). Befriend him now!
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VTPI Action Team
The Victoria Transport Policy Institute is developing a list of experts who can volunteer to work on Victoria Transport Policy Institute projects. This will typically involve 10-40 hours of work on a particular research project. We need experts in: technical writing, research, transport and land use policy analysis, economic evaluation and website development. If you are interested and qualified, please send a short description of your interests, abilities and availability to: info@....
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Lawrence D. Frank , et al. (2011), "An Assessment of Urban Form and Pedestrian and Transit Improvements as an Integrated GHG Reduction Strategy," Washington State Department of Transportation (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/research/reports/fullreports/765.1.pdf ).
This study used detailed data to assess the impacts of various urban form factors on vehicle travel and carbon emissions. This analysis indicates that increasing sidewalk coverage from 30% to 70% of streets in an urban neighborhood would typically reduce vehicle travel 3.4% and carbon emissions 4.9%. Land use mix and parking pricing also had significant impacts. Increasing average parking fees from $0.28 to $1.19 per hour (50th to 75th percentile) reduces vehicle travel 11.5% and emissions 9.9%. Study results were used to develop a spreadsheet tool that can evaluate the impacts of urban form, sidewalk coverage, and transit service quality and other policy changes for local and regional analysis.
John Pucher and Ralph Buehler (2011),"Analysis of Bicycle Trends and Policies in Large North American Cities: Lessons For New York," University Transportation Research Center (http://www.utrc2.org/research/assets/176/Analysis-Bike-Final1.pdf ); summary at http://www.utrc2.org/research/assets/176/Bicycle-Brief1.pdf.
This USDOT research report reviews trends in cycling activity, safety, and policies in large North American cities over the past two decades. The number of bike commuters in the USA rose 64% from 1990 to 2009. Over the shorter period from 1996 to 2006, the number of bike commuters in Canada rose by 42%, and the bike share of commuters rose from 1.1% to 1.3%. From 1988 to 2008, cycling fatalities fell 66% in Canada and 21% in the USA.
John Pucher, Ralph Buehler, and Mark Seinen (2011), "Bicycling Renaissance in North America? An Update and Re-Assessment of Cycling Trends and Policies," Transportation Research A, Vol. 45, No. 8, 2011, pp. 451-475 (http://policy.rutgers.edu/faculty/pucher/TRA960_01April2011.pdf ).
This paper reviews trends in cycling activity, safety, and policies in Canada and the USA over the past two decades. Cycling levels increased in both the USA and Canada, while cyclist fatalities declined. The commute mode share is more than twice as high in Canada as in the USA. Cycling rates rose much faster than average in the nine case study cities due to various programs that encourage cycling and improving safety.
NHTS (2010), "Active Travel: NHTS Brief, " National Household Travel Survey (http://nhts.ornl.gov/briefs/ActiveTravel.pdf ).
Analysis of the NHTS question, “In the past week, how many times did you take a walk outside including walking the dog and walks for exercise?”
NYCDH (2011), "Health Benefits of Active Transportation in New York City," New York City Department of Health (http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/survey/survey-2011active-transport.pdf ).
This four-page report describes the health benefits of active transportation in New York City. The analysis indicates that people who commute by walking, cycling or public transit achieve about twice as total exercise as automobile commuters, and so are much more likely to achieve physical activity targets. This survey can be a model for use in other communities interested in tracking physical fitness and health.
Dude, Where Are My Cars? (http://daily.sightline.org/daily_score/series/dude-where-are-my-cars ). This series of columns by Sightline Institute blogger Clark Williams-Derry discusses various indications that motor vehicle traffic is growing much slower than predicted and in many cases has stopped growing altogether or even declined. This has important implications for transport policy and planning.
In this brilliant essay, columnist De Place asks, “If we're going to sell alcohol widely -- a notoriously powerful drug that impairs motor skill and judgment, and that is lethal in large quantities - then perhaps it's not a great idea for us to require by law that alcohol purveyors provide parking. But we do.”
Donald Shoup (2011), "Free Parking Or Free Markets," CATO Unbound (http://www.cato-unbound.org/2011/04/04/donald-shoup/free-parking-or-free-markets )
This report argues that the expectation of abundant free parking is the product of anti-market planning and bad for our communities.
"Research on Impacts of Transportation and Land Use-Related Policies," California Air Resources Board (http://arb.ca.gov/cc/sb375/policies/policies.htm ).
This set of reports by University of California researchers summarizes how various transport and land use policies affect travel activity and emissions. This research is the first step in a long-term process to help strengthen the technical underpinnings of SB 375 and to identify important data gaps and research needs.
Vicky Feng Wei and Gord Lovegrove (2010), "Sustainable Road Safety: A New (?) Neighbourhood Road Pattern That Saves VRU (Vulnerable Road Users) Lives," Accident Analysis & Prevention (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00014575 ).
This study compared the traffic safety impacts of various neighbourhood street patterns. Although all can provide comparable accessibility, the 3-way offset and fused grid patterns reduce accidents as much as 60% compared to grid and cul-de-sacs.
Paul Joseph Tranter (2010), "Speed Kills: The Complex Links Between Transport, Lack of Time and Urban Health," Journal of Urban Health, Vol. 87, No. 2; at (http://www.springerlink.com/content/v5206257222v6h8v ).
These researchers argue that emphasis on increasing urban traffic volumes and speeds contributes to ill-health by increasing accident risk, air pollution, inactivity, obesity and social isolation. Using the concept of ‘effective speed’, this paper demonstrates that attempts to ‘save time’ by increasing vehicle traffic speeds is often inefficient overall.
Scott Sharpe and Paul Tranter (2010), "The Hope For Oil Crisis: Children, Oil Vulnerability And (In)Dependent Mobility," Australian Planner, Vol. 47, No. 4, December, pp. 284-292; summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07293682.2010.526622 .
Explores how a less automobile-dependent transport systems can benefit children by improving their independent mobility, reducing their traffic risk and improving their physical fitness.
NAR (2011), "2011 Community Preference Survey: What Americans Are Looking For When Deciding Where To Live," National Association of Realtors (http://www.realtor.org/press_room/news_releases/2011/04/smart_growth ).
This survey explores Americans' preferences regarding neighborhood characteristics such as proximity to parks and shopping, walkability, and commuting time, and the trade-offs they may be willing to accept in order to obtain those neighborhood preferences. The study indicates that, although most households want a single-family home, they prefer living in a walkable community with nearby services, and would choose a smaller lot if it would keep their commute time to 20 minutes or less.
Joseph P. Schwieterman, et al. (2009), "Is Portable Technology Changing How Americans Travel? A Survey Of The Use Of Electronic Devises On Intercity Buses, Trains, And Planes," Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, DePaul University (http://las.depaul.edu/chaddick/docs/Docs/Chaddick_Institute_Survey_of_Technology_1.pdf ).
This study indicates that approximately 40% of long-distance bus, train and airplane passengers are using portable technology devices such as computers, mobile telephone and portable music devices at any time. These and other findings suggests that the ability to use portable electronics is valued by passengers and helps offset the longer travel time associated with certain bus and train trips. On-board wireless internet service may help explain the rapid growth in ridership on intercity buses that offer this service.
Pamela Blais (2010) "Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy, and Urban Sprawl", UBC Press (http://perversecities.ca).
This book provides detailed analysis of existing policy and pricing distortions that favor low-density, automobile-oriented, urban fringe development, and recommends a set of market-based reforms that encourage smart growth, including more neutral planning, and location-based development and utility fees that reflect the higher costs of providing public services in more dispersed locations. These reforms provide an important tool for smart growth development.
Zhan Guo, et al. (2011), "The Intersection of Urban Form and Mileage Fees: Findings from the Oregon Road User Fee Pilot Program," Mineta Transportation Institute (http://transweb.sjsu.edu/PDFs/research/2909_10-04.pdf ).
This study analyzed data from the 2006-2007 Oregon Road User Fee Pilot Program, which charged motorists for driving in congested conditions. It found that households in denser, mixed use, transit-accessible neighborhoods reduced their peak-hour and overall travel significantly more than comparable households in automobile dependent suburbs, and that congestion pricing increase the value of more accessible and multi-modal locations.
Kenneth Gillingham (2010), "Identifying the Elasticity of Driving: Evidence from a Gasoline Price Shock in California," Stanford University (http://www.stanford.edu/~kgilling/Gillingham_IdentifyingElasticityofDriving.pdf ).
This study used a dataset of odometer readings taken during California vehicle smog checks to measure how gasoline price changes affect vehicle mileage for various locations and vehicle types. The results indicate relatively high price sensitivities.
Shanjun Li, Joshua Linn and Erich Muehlegger (2011), "Gasoline Taxes and Consumer Behavior," Stanford University (http://economics.stanford.edu/files/muehlegger3_15.pdf ).
This study evaluated how fuel price increases affect vehicle travel and fuel consumption. It finds that increases in motor vehicle operating costs that consumers consider durable (fuel taxes, road tolls, parking fees and distance-based insurance and registration fees) are likely to cause much greater reductions in vehicle travel and fuel consumption than indicated by conventional models which use elasticity value based on responses to price changes consumers considered temporary.
Raven Molloy and Hui Shan (2010), "The Effect of Gasoline Prices on Household Location," Federal Reserve Board (https://federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2010/201036/201036pap.pdf ).
This study investigates how fuel prices influence household location decisions. Using annual panel data in a large number of U.S. metropolitan areas the researchers find that a 10% increase in gas prices leads to a 10% decrease in construction in areas with long average commutes.
UTTIPEC (2010), "Parking Policy as a Travel Demand Management Strategy," Delhi Development Authority (http://www.uttipec.nic.in/writereaddata/linkimages/7460355562.pdf ).
This report includes detailed analysis of current parking policies in the city of Delhi, India, the economic, social and environmental problems they impose, and recommendations for policy reforms based on best international practices.
James Leather, Herbert Fabian, Sudhir Gota and Alvin Mejia (2011), Walkability and Pedestrian Facilities in Asian Cities: State and Issues, Asian Development Bank (http://cleanairinitiative.org/portal/sites/default/files/documents/ADB-WP17-Walkability-Pedestrian-Facilities-Asian-Cities.pdf ).
This survey evaluated walking conditions in 13 Asian cities. It found that 37% of respondents rely primarily on walking for transportation, 41% rate their city’s pedestrian facilities “bad” or “very bad,” and 67% would shift walking trips to motorized modes if walking conditions do not improve. Based on these findings the study made various recommendations for improving walkability and pedestrian conditions. They recommend changing transport system performance indicators to better evaluate walking conditions, and developing appropriate roadway and pedestrian facility design guidelines, since existing guidelines are often ambiguous, inequitable, or not enforced.
NZTA (2010), "Economic Evaluation Manual," New Zealand Transport Agency (http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/results.html?catid=7 ); at http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/economic-evaluation-manual/volume-1/index.html and http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/economic-evaluation-manual/volume-2/docs/eem2-july-2010.pdf .
These manuals describe specific procedures for evaluating a variety of transportation projects, including highways, public transport, non-motorized improvements and demand management strategies. They are among the best transportation evaluation guides in the world.
S. Turner, R. Singh, P. Quinn and T. Allatt (2011), "Benefits Of New And Improved Pedestrian Facilities – Before And After Studies," Research Report 436, NZ Transport Agency (http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/research/reports/436/docs/436.pdf ).
This study measures the additional walking activity recorded after various pedestrian improvements were implemented.
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Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org)
Phone & Fax 250-360-1560
1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, CANADA
“Efficiency - Equity - Clarity”