Forward Motion: Transportation Planning

Making or Breaking a Town’s Appeal to Bicyclists & Pedestrians

August 30th, 2012

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What can you do to make your city or town more appealing to bicyclists and pedestrians?

Acclaimed transportation researchers Rich Kuzmyak and Jennifer Dill in the recent TR News feature “Walking and Bicycling in the United States: the Who, What, Where, and Why” (May 2012) provide useful insights about key elements such as the following:

• Hills: A few people love the challenge of huffing up steep grades. But, a real-time travel survey of Portland, Oregon cyclists reveals the average bike commuter will travel more than 25% out of her way to find a route that is just one percent flatter. When creating your bike plan, try using three-dimensional mapping tools and advice from regular cyclists to assess whether the most direct route on paper is the most convenient one on the road.

• Climate: Acute weather affects even the hardiest traveler’s decision to bike or walk. Think about strategies to help people get out year-round, from snow days to dog days. Trees and awnings provide relief from the hot sun and a bit of protection from rain showers. In places where extreme weather is the norm, communities build covered walkways, Habitrail-style glass bridges, and underground tunnels for pedestrians and cyclists.

• Proximity: According to the most recent National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), almost nine out of ten walking and cycling trips lasted less than 30 minutes. The average pedestrian trip is about three-quarters of a mile, while bicycle trips average a little more than two miles. Compact, mixed-use communities boast consistently higher rates of biking, walking, and transit trips than places with far-flung origins and destinations – and, perhaps even more importantly in today’s economy, they are attracting more marketplace demand for housing.

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photo of Hannah TwaddellHannah Twaddell is President and founder of Twaddell Associates, LLC, a consulting practice specializing in community planning, public engagement, facilitation, and education. Based in Charlottesville, Virginia, the firm provides planning, facilitation, and educational services to communities, government agencies, and private organizations across the U.S.

Before setting up Twaddell Associates, Hannah was a Senior Transportation Planner with Renaissance Planning Group, where she has worked on transportation planning and public involvement projects in several states. Prior to that, she served as Assistant Director of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (in Charlottesville) and as chief staff to the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization.

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