The Transportation Research Board (TRB) has recently published Renaissance’s NCHRP Report 770: Estimating Bicycling and Walking for Planning and Project Development: A Guidebook. The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) is a division of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies of Science, which sponsors peer-reviewed research on critical transportation planning and policy issues. This report represents a major step toward fulfilling a long-standing need for analytic methods that can effectively represent non-motorized transportation modes in the transportation and land use planning process. The guidebook provides a menu of best-practice methods that can be used by practitioners to estimate bicycle and pedestrian demand at various scales (regional, corridor, activity center, or project level) and to accommodate different analytic needs, skills and resources. Rich Kuzmyak of Renaissance was the project manager and principal author of the new guidebook.
The project team, which was led by Renaissance and included several recognized specialists in travel behavior and modelling from private consulting firms and a university. The resultant guidebook provides a menu of tools, including several pre-existing methods with particular value, plus three new tools developed by the NCHRP project team. These include an advanced tour-based mode choice procedure developed in Seattle, a strategically enhanced four-step modelling approach, and an innovative accessibility-based approach that relied almost exclusively on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data and tools. Renaissance was directly responsible for this third tool, through the efforts of Chris Sinclair, Alex Bell, and Nick Lepp, using data for Arlington County obtained from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
Each of the new tools relies heavily on accessibility relationships to convey the key elements of the travel setting by jointly considering the prevailing land use along with the capability of the travel networks to provide access to those opportunities. Through such a structure, it is possible to identify the relative importance of the built environment (density, mix, design) independently of the connecting infrastructure. Thus, planners can identify the most cost-effective measures (land use and/or transportation) that will impact mode choice, vehicle trips, VMT and congestion. The tools should offer much needed support for planning smart growth communities, transit and transit-oriented development, and cost-effective non-motorized transportation network improvements.
Renaissance is currently testing application of the GIS accessibility approach in a complex, multi-modal corridor for a state department of transportation. The Department of Transportation (DOT) sees value in the approach for reviewing transportation plans and proposals in relation to local land use plans, project prioritization, and engaging local jurisdictions and other stakeholders in the planning and decision-making process.
TRB is hosting a webinar on this research on August 18th from 1:00pm to 3:00pm, in which Renaissance's Rich Kuzmyak, Alex Bell, along with Mark Bradley (Resource Systems Group, Inc.) and Kara Kockelman (University of Texas at Austin) will be introducing the guidebook and describing some of the methods and models.