SSTI’s thought-leading work in accessibility applies analysis at various scales, from small, individual projects up to regional plans and programs. We have also produced ways to use accessibility scores to forecast outcomes such as VMT and modal usage.
The Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota recently released a one-of-a-kind report that ranks the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas (by population) according to accessibility to jobs via bicycle. The report is a product of a multi-year study, where the researchers analyzed land use and transportation systems to measure accessibility to destinations via different modes. The researchers also incorporated traffic stress and bicycle comfort in measuring accessibility.
DOTs and planning agencies interested in measuring access to destinations have a growing number of packages and data sources to choose from. Folks not looking to reinvent the wheel are turning to shiny products like Citilabs’ Sugar Access, Conveyal, and Remix. But those with tighter budgets and a little more technical expertise can build on existing platforms like OpenTripPlanner, UrbanAccess, and now the Accessibility Toolbox for R and ArcGIS, featured recently in Transport Findings.
With the constant rise in obesity numbers and health concerns, planners and designers around the world are trying to bring back physical activity in day-to-day commuting behavior. Addressing health concerns through active transportation solutions not only brings us a step closer to a healthier community, but is also cost effective. Improving walking access to public transit stations is one such solution and was the theme of a paper published in the May issue of ITE journal.
A new bipartisan bill in Congress would provide funding for DOTs and MPOs to apply innovative accessibility metrics to decision-making. It would require U.S. DOT to provide data and support for five state DOTs and 10 MPOs to measure access to destinations by various modes. Whether the bill passes or not, the field is likely to continue looking at accessibility as an important metric, and SSTI has been at the forefront of the effort to apply accessibility to transportation and land use decisions.
The average transit user in New Orleans can access only a fraction of the opportunities that drivers can, according to a local advocacy group, and recent transit investments aren’t helping much. The group, Ride New Orleans, just released its annual State of Transit 2018 report, which includes an analysis of the number of jobs accessible by car and by transit within 30 minutes. They found that the average transit user can only reach 12 percent of the region’s jobs within 30 minutes, compared to 89 percent for drivers.
How does the built environment influence the amount people drive? Research by SSTI’s Logan Dredske worked to answer this very question. The focus of his research was to create a framework for estimating vehicle miles traveled based on conditions of the built environment. His goal was to use measures of accessibility as the principal proxy for the built environment. The research also converted vehicle miles traveled into greenhouse gas emissions and evaluated the ability of transportation projects to reduce emissions.
The Virginia Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment recently released its new report, Accessibility in practice: A guide for transportation and land use decision making, developed by SSTI with several partners. The guide describes ways of measuring accessibility and, more importantly, how to use those metrics in planning, project evaluation, and other transportation and land use decisions. The information is useful for any state or local agency interested or already involved in making these kinds of decisions.