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Identifying and Ranking Sustainable Transport Practices

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  • Eric Britton
    Further to our yesterday s note on this topic, I attach for those eventually interested a copy of the working outline and some sample sections of the Wellar
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 12 8:46 AM
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      Further to our yesterday’s note on this topic, I attach for those eventually interested a copy of the working outline and some sample sections of the Wellar project on this. I have dug out two examples below thinking that they may encourage, the first of which since it is very close to the appraoch we try to take in our New Mobility City Dialogues projects. Eric Britton


      Commentaries on Methods and Techniques


      Open House

      Barry Wellar


      The term “Open House” is used by municipal and provincial government

      agencies to refer to come-and-go meetings that are portrayed as opportunities

      for citizens, business people, community associations and interest groups to

      provide feedback on planning, development, transportation, zoning, and other

      proposed initiatives.


      However, Open Houses are not solely within the purview of government bodies.

      For reasons that include informing citizens about civic issues, shaping opinions

      on public policy and planning matters, and creating media events, Open Houses

      are also organized by the proponents or opponents of proposals, priorities,

      programs, and activities of municipal and provincial governments, as well as

      those of quasi-public and private corporations such as hospitals, universities,

      development companies, land developers, waste disposal operators, health

      facilities, and transportation companies.


      Depending upon the issue, an Open house can feature from a half-dozen to fifty,

      sixty or more static display boards, as well as videos, PowerPoint slide

      presentations, and interactive computer presentations. The number of

      professionals on hand (staff, consultants) can range from two or three to 15 or

      20. Members of the public in attendance may be fewer in number than the staff,

      or may outnumber staff by a ratio of 50-1 or more if the planning, development,

      transportation or other proposal is a contentious issue.


      In terms of format, an Open House may begin with an opening statement by an

      elected official or officials, a staff person, or a consultant, and then one, two,

      three or more professionals (staff, consultants) make presentations about the

      purpose of the Open House and offer general comments about the display

      materials distributed around the hall, gymnasium or room. The Open House

      process generally involves members of the public perusing the displays, videos,

      slides, etc., and then asking questions of the organizers, expressing opinions

      about the respective displays, and filling in a comment sheet or sheets.

      Pros and Cons of the Open House as a Decision Support Tool for

      Sustainable Transport Practice Decision Making


      Initially the Open House technique was regarded by governments, interest

      groups, and citizens as a useful and reasonably productive means of engaging

      members of the community in civic affairs. Further, Open Houses were also an

      opportunity for members of the community to pick up reports or other

      documentation, share views with other members of the community about an

      issue, and arrive at a consensus position. Open Houses in their early days were

      deemed to provide a good read of the politics of an issue, largely because Open


      Houses were “the place” for the community to make its values, attitudes, and

      voting inclinations known.


      However, within the past decade several fundamental changes have occurred

      that make the Open House a marginal technique for many of the decisions

      involving sustainable transport practices. The changes and the causes of the

      changes are summarized as follows.


      First, online access to municipal and provincial materials in many jurisdictions

      has significantly diminished the role of the Open House as a place for many

      people with civic talents, and especially technical skills, to obtain information and

      participate in civic affairs. The loss of these people downgrades the quality of

      discourse that could be used for decision purposes, and also raises major doubts

      as to the representativeness of any notion of consensus that might be reached.


      Second, whether for reasons due to amalgamation, complexity of issues, a

      general decline in public participation, or other factors that diminish the quality of

      public discourse, there is an increasing sense that the Open House has become

      less a means of informing and listening to the public and more a means of simply

      going through the motions of public consultation.


      Indeed, references such as ‘fraud’, exercise in futility’, ‘waste of time’,

      ‘manipulation’, and ‘staged’ are often encountered in media reports to describe

      Open House topics that have broad and complicated scope, a long timeline,

      multiple decision points, and involve mathematics, statistics, engineering

      drawings, and other technical elements.


      It seems clear, therefore, that any meaningful Open House contribution to

      decisions about sustainable transport practices would be highly suspect except

      under particular conditions and constraints. That is, each of the three phases of

      identifying, adopting or implementing sustainable transport practices requires

      more examination and analysis than can be provided by an Open House. Major

      shortcomings include the inability to ask detailed questions, share responses,

      discuss responses among all interested participants, have time for

      reconsideration of choices, priorities, etc., and then re-visit such major concerns

      as budgets, timing, and legacy implications associated with each of the three



      If, however, an issue revolves around a matter that is particular to a

      neighbourhood, to a group of transport modes users (e.g. pedestrians, cyclists,

      transit riders), or sub-groups such as teen, adult, and senior pedestrians, or is

      otherwise limited in scope, complexity, and legacy implications, and the Open

      House is seeking a ‘popular opinion’ among the group or sub-group, then the

      Open House can be a useful,



      Walking Security Index

      Barry Wellar


      The Walking Security Index (WSI) project was approved in 1994 as an element

      of the Transportation Environment Action Plan (TEAP) of the Region of Ottawa-

      Carleton (now the City of Ottawa). One of the goals of TEAP was to encourage

      more trips by walking, and the primary mission of the WSI project was to design

      indexes measuring levels of safety, comfort and convenience experienced by

      pedestrians at intersections.


      The thesis of the WSI research was that indexes could be designed that provide

      scores on the performance of intersections from the perspective of safety,

      comfort, and convenience of pedestrians, and the scores could be arranged in

      rank order. Then, for public safety, quality of life, engineering, traffic,


      enforcement, maintenance, health, or other purposes, the scores could be used

      to identify needed corrective actions at intersections rated from best to worst, or

      at problematic intersection quadrants, and the rankings would provide elected

      officials and Region/City staffers with information for prioritizing remedial actions.

      More than 40 publications describe the research design and findings of the WSI

      methodology. This commentary overviews a selection of elements of the WSI

      project which are pertinent to a report on “Methods and Techniques that Could

      be Used in Making Decisions about Identifying, Adopting, or Implementing

      Sustainable Transport Practices”.


      During the design phase (1995-1998) ten indexes were developed, and in the

      subsequent pilot study phase (1999-2002) three macro indexes were tested for

      operationality. In this commentary, the macro indexes are presented along with

      several observations about similarities between the WSI project and the

      Transport Canada project in regard to the identifying, adopting, and implementing

      phases of decision making.


      Intersection Volume and Design Index (IVDI)

      The IVDI is a dot product formula, IVDI = V1 • V2 • V3 • V4 •V5 • V6 • V7 • V8,

      that scores and ranks intersections in terms of “pedestrian friendliness”, where,


      V1 = number of passenger car equivalents2/hour

      V2 = number of pedestrians/hour

      V3 = number of lanes rating

      V4 = number of turn lanes by type rating

      V5 = intersection geometry rating

      V6 = intersection slope rating

      V7 = direction(s) of traffic flow rating

      V8 = number of channels adjacent to intersection rating.


      Quality of Intersection Condition Index (QICI)


      The QICI formulation uses a tabular format, and consists of 18 variables which

      represent a selection of design, construction, condition, and maintenance,

      standards and practices that affect pedestrians’ use of sidewalks and

      intersections. The QICI uses a “Condition Met?” system which is quadrant-based,

      and the scores for quadrants or overall scores for intersections can be used for

      remedial and/or ranking and prioritizing purposes by elected officials and staff, as

      well as for calls for action by citizens and community groups.


      Driver Behaviour Index (DBI)


      The DBI formulation is an equation, and this index measures the level of

      aggressive driver behaviour at intersections used by pedestrians. Thirteen

      variables (two for running reds, two for running ambers, and nine for fail-to-yield)

      were considered when formulating, testing and refining the DBI.

      Driver Behaviour Index = ALI


      + RLI


      + FTYI





      = amber-light incidents per phase,



      = red-light incidents per phase,



      = fail-to-yield incidents per phase.


      The research on methods and techniques in the design phase of the WSI Project

      is directly relevant to the design phase of the Transport Canada project, as is the

      WSI pilot study research in the operational or implementation phase. Making

      decisions about identifying variables, adopting indexes, and implementing the

      indexes and acting on index scores and rankings, corresponds to the decision

      processes of identifying, adopting and implementing sustainable transport

      practices. In addition, the WSI reports suggest ways of customizing the indexes

      to make them more appropriate for differences in weather, demographics, motor

      vehicle types and traffic, etc., which may lead to the kind of flexible methods and

      techniques needed for decisions about sustainable transport practices.


      Finally, the WSI project reports include applications and critiques of a number of

      methods and techniques that are likely to be pertinent to the Transport Canada

      project, including attitudinal surveys, authority, comparative analysis, focus

      groups, indexing, indicators, modelling,

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