Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Benefit of Balanced Mode-Share

Popular culture says when traffic conditions become too congested simply add more lanes. We look to highway authorities for solutions and they respond in kind. The trouble is building more car infrastructure simply attracts more cars and for a coastal community like Laguna there is no room to add wider roads. Adding more cars begs the question, where you gonna park 'em all?

In a town with little room to accommodate more automobiles  a multi-modal approach to moving people might serve us better. For every person walking biking or using public transit (Municipal Bus, Trolleys, OCTA) we remove one person driving a car and free a parking space. But how do we know if a multi-modal system will serve us well? Do we know how many people are already using each mode? Could more people participate in each mode?

Let's take an assessment, what-if we could measure all the travel trips people make for work, pleasure, commuting, or errands nation-wide? Fortunately the National Household Travel Survey has done just that. This post shows study results by The Victoria Transport Policy Institute for 375,000 reported trips in locations across the nation.*

POV = cars, vans, Suv's, motorcycles
Results show the mode- share for walking, biking, public transit and the Personal Owned Vehicle is dominated by POV across the nation. In Laguna the same result is evident during school commutes and the summer tourist season. This chart shows the number of trips made for short trips, long trips and those in-between, for each mode-share. To be comprehensive the researchers counted the trip from your parked car to your destination as a walking trip.*

POV= cars, vans, Suv's, motorcycles

This chart shows the portion of trips made as a percentage of the total number of trips in the study, for each distance category, for each mode-share. This chart shows 41% of all the trips nation-wide are under 3 miles long. Trips 2.1-3 miles long are not served by walking, biking or transit services. Trips greater than 2.1 miles are the exclusive domain of the POV.

How do we spend our time when traveling, how far do we go and which mode-share is used most? This chart shows how we portion our trips, time traveled, and distance traveled for each mode-share. Among the modes we highly favor taking most trips with a POV.

These charts show nation-wide the automobile is king while other transportation modes are totally underutilized. Balancing the mode-share with walking biking and public transit nation-wide would reduce automobile congestion. Anyone stuck in Laguna traffic would reasonably conclude a balanced mode-share would serve Laguna as well. 
*From 1983, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2005, and 2009 and the latest results were published 24 April 2014 by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute. Trip data considers mixed-use within a trip. Walking data includes walking from the parked automobile to the destination. See "Short and Sweet, Analysis of Shorter Trips using National Household Survey Data", 24 April 2014, Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute.

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