Do you live in a city?

A couple of observations about the following diagnostic chart that was  recently released on NPR. Its a really good start. It would be fun to have a few more cultural or socially constructed elements as criteria–as opposed to the primary elements being those of the built environment. Right now, there are more or less three that are not built-environment centrci: starbucks, applebees, pets as livestock. But, notice that it all starts with transportation: how do you get to work. This is telling.

And, from bike you go straight to having animals? I guess there is some psychological/sociological research out there about such? Then, I question if the Applebee’s criteria is all that telling?

Do You Live In A City? Hm. Let's Find Out

Bike to Work Day – 30% first time participants

Most communities around the US celebrate bike to work day and week in May. The idea is to celebrate and promote the whole concept and get more people on-board. In Colorado, the Front Range communities wait until the 4th Wednesday in June. It is quite a celebration with the Regional Council (DRCOG) playing an active role. There are over 45 breakfast stations in  city of Boulder alone–that’s almost 2 stations per square mile of town.

The whole idea, it seems, is to get people to “register” for the event and thereby “pledge” to do more of it–almost 1,800 of them across the Front Range. I’m not sure I fully follow the wisdom of such, but it seems harmless. Relative to previous years, it seemed that attendance was a bit down in Boulder, likely owing to the obsessive heat for several consecutive days prior and the onset of pretty dramatic forest fires.

The ACT Research Group will be partnering with DRCOG analyzing some of the survey results. Some positive university press has already been generated. Our central research question is going to focus on those who do it this day but not the rest of the day–drilling down into the strength and duration of the “lag effect” of such an intervention. Supposedly 30% were first time participants.

Krista Nordback dissertation defense

The bicycle research community will further benefit from the addition of a great researcher with soon to be “PhD” credentials behind her. Krista Nordback of UC Denver Civil Engineering successfully defended her dissertation, ESTIMATING ANNUAL AVERAGE DAILY BICYCLISTS AND ANALYZING CYCLIST SAFETY IN URBAN AREAS.Picture

Using Boulder, Colorado as a case community (mainly because of the wealth of data available), she created a method to estimate annual average daily bicyclists (AADB) and bicyclist safety at intersections.

Krista employed continuous automated bicycle counts to create a statistical model of bicycle use considering external factors, such as temperature, month, and day of the week. This model allowed her to estimate the average daily volume of bicyclists on a given roadway over a year, analogous to Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) for motor vehicles.

Quantifying bicycle use per roadway and path is an important step to assessing which bicycle infrastructure is most used and establishing a baseline for studying other issues such as safety and physical activity.  Specifically, she combined use data with bicycle-related collision data to provide a comprehensive assessment of bicyclist safety by infrastructure type (i.e. bicycle lanes, bicycle paths and shared-roadway bicycle routes) at the community level. Let’s wait for the final, final, final version of the dissertation (20 more days) and then further report on the “elevator pitch” take-away conclusions.

Krista provided a guest blog here last month and is also a member of the Active Communities / Transport (ACT) Research Group.

Congratulations, Krista, on a job well done!

Top three things for Denver Regional Council Scenario Planning

I was privileged to participate as an expert panelist in Denver Regional Council’s  Scenario Planning Workshop earlier in the month. During my 20 minute presentation to the “public” group session, I stressed three points–further demonstrated by the below slides.

1. As it relates to urban planning and future scenarios, we need to scrutinize trends (socio-demographic, travel consumption, etc) prior to hanging one’s hat on those trends that favor particular outcomes.

2. Accessibility should unquestionably be a guiding “Measure of Effectiveness” for scenario planning.

3. There might be a large potential by aiming to increasing land use mix and density in certain key areas around Denver to better “internally capture trips and maximize likelihood for cycling.

DRCOG Metro Vision 2040 Kickoff

This coming June 7 & 8, I will be participating in:


Thursday, June 7, 12:30-5:00pm – History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway, Martin Room, 4th floor, Denver

Metro Vision is the Denver region’s plan to protect and enhance quality of life by guiding growth, transportation and environmental quality into the future.  The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) adopted the original one-page vision statement that is the foundation of the Metro Vision plan in 1992. Now 20 years later, DRCOG is conducting a major update of the plan to address new challenges and opportunities facing the region.

At the June 7 kickoff event, you will:

  • Get an overview of the two-year process for developing Metro Vision 2040
  • Learn the preliminary results of the Metro Vision 2040 Listening Tour – DRCOG is conducting a series of focus groups, interviews and an online survey to identify key issues the Metro Vision 2040 plan should address
  • Hear commentary from a panel of national experts on regional planning and scenario analysis, including Reid Ewing, University of Utah, Paul Waddell, University of California at Berkeley, Uri Avin, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and Kevin J. Krizek, University of Colorado.
  • Help DRCOG design alternative future scenarios to explore for the Denver region
  • Network with Federal representatives from the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration

This workshop is being supported by the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, and is part of the Denver region’s Sustainable Communities Initiative.

Land Use Impacts of Transportation Revenue Mechanisms

On June 5, I will be participating in the below:

Land Use Impacts of Transportation Revenue Mechanisms
Urban Land Institute | Transportation Policy and Finance Project  Expert Workshop

June 5, 2012
ULI offices, Washington, DC

Workshop goals
‐ Explore, through structured small and large group discussions, the impacts of
various transportation revenue options—including tolls, vehicle miles traveled
(VMT) taxes, and congestion pricing—on land use, development patterns, and
societal equity.
‐ Elevate the importance of land use as various transportation policy and
revenue choices are debated at the federal, state and local levels over the
coming decade.

Background: Almost 60 years ago, the U.S. began building a world‐class, nation‐spanning, expressway system—the Interstate Highway System—funding this system with taxes on the
consumption of motor fuels. But what if tolls had been chosen instead? Would it
have made a difference for U.S. cities and metropolitan land use patterns?
Today, policy makers are facing a similar decision point. Taxes on motor fuels
are a declining revenue source, and the use of tolls and other alternate funding
mechanisms is on the rise. Revenue‐generating mechanisms, such as variable
tolls, appear to promote economic efficiency by better matching price to demand.
By changing the link between the travel and costs, these mechanisms may also
have impacts on land use and development patterns.   This workshop and other related activities are designed to explore these impacts, and their implications for equity, and to suggest directions for future research and exploration.

Participants Invitees have been carefully selected for their land use and transportation
expertise. Expected workshop attendance is 14‐16 people.

Outcomes Workshop conclusions will be combined with other research in a widely
disseminated report targeted at policymakers.

Professor, Environmental Design and Transport, University of Colorado