Travel Behavior

Is Travel Really That Bad?

Eric A. Morris

Okay, the title of this article is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but travel does involve considerable costs. The average household spends about $8,500 per year on transportation, making it one of our biggest expenditures. Time is another cost of travel, because the roughly hour and ten minutes American adults spend traveling each day might be better spent on things like work, family, and even sleep. Travel can also be tiring, stressful, dangerous, and more.

Ridesourcing’s Impact and Role in Urban Transportation

Susan Shaheen, Nelson Chan, Lisa Rayle

App-based, on-demand ride services—also known as Transportation Network Companies (TNCs)—have grown rapidly in recent years and caused debate in the passenger transportation industry. Advances in information and communication technology have enabled these services to provide a wide variety of real-time and demand-responsive trips. Companies such as Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar (now defunct) have developed smartphone apps whereby passengers can “source” a ride from a private passenger vehicle driven by a non-commercially licensed driver (usually). These apps communicate the passenger’s location to the driver via GPS and charge a distance-based fare. The driver is paid approximately 80 percent of the fare; the company keeps the rest. Many of these apps maintain a rating system that allows drivers and passengers to rate each other after the trip is completed. A passenger’s credit card information can be saved within the system to facilitate future trips.

THE ACCESS ALMANAC: Running to Work

Robert Cervero

As a transportation researcher, I sometimes get asked what falls into the Census’s “other” category of how people get to work—hoverboarding, rollerblading, kayaking? In Ottawa, three percent of commuters ice-skate to work in winter months. In other cities, notably big, dense ones with awful traffic and jam-packed subways, an increasingly popular way to commute is running. Lacing up running shoes and hoofing it to work is arguably the most active form of active transport and helps meet the Surgeon General’s recommended 30 or more minutes of physical activity per day. Combining two things we need to do—exercising and getting to work—can pay off. Research shows active commuters cut their odds of obesity by 50 percent.

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Quantified Traveler: Travel Feedback Meets the Cloud to Change Behavior

Raja Sengupta and Joan L. Walker

Halting climate change will require a concerted effort to reduce emissions from on-road vehicles. While significant progress has been made to improve vehicle efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions, surface transportation accounted for half the increase in US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the past two decades. Today, surface transportation accounts for 24 percent of all US emissions. Automobile improvements alone will not be sufficient to meet federal and state emissions targets; policy makers also need to identify solutions that reduce the demand for car travel. Information technology offers a promising breakthrough on this front.

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Unraveling the Modal Impacts of Bikesharing

Susan Shaheen and Elliot Martin

Public bikesharing has emerged as one of the latest transportation innovations, transforming North American cities and providing people with more transportation options. Much attention has focused on how new bikesharing programs fit in with the largely auto-oriented transportation culture. But there is another fascinating question: how do bikesharing programs influence the travel patterns of their members with respect to travel by rail, bus, and on foot?

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Does Transit-Oriented Development Need the Transit?

Daniel G. Chatman

Urban planners have invested a lot of energy in the idea of transit-oriented developments (TODs). Developing dense housing near rail stations with mixed land uses and better walkability is intended to encourage people to walk, bike, and take transit instead of driving. But TODs can also be expensive, largely because rail itself is expensive. In one study, the average cost for light rail construction was $61 million per mile in 2009 dollars.

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The Social Context of Travel

Michael Smart and Nicholas J. Klein

Imagine two young families living next door to one another in an apartment building in the Castro district of San Francisco, one of the most well-known gay neighborhoods in America. The two families are alike in most regards, but one couple is straight and the other is gay. Neither have children. They have similar jobs and incomes, and they both like living in a dense urban environment. Their daily travel patterns, however, are very different. The gay couple’s trips to work, shops, restaurants, bars, and friends’ houses are more local than that of their straight neighbors down the hall.

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The First Big-Box Store in Davis

Susan L. Handy, Kristin Lovejoy, Gian-Claudia Sciara, Deborah Salon, and Patricia Mokhtarian

Davis, California, is well-known in transportation circles for having the highest share of bicycle commuters in the US, due in large part to pioneering efforts starting in the 1960s that created an extensive bicycling network. Less well-known is the substantial effort Davis has made to avert the kind of sprawl found in most US cities. Multi-family housing is distributed throughout the city, neighborhood shopping centers are within a short bike ride for most residents, and the city has improved sidewalks, landscaping, and public spaces to promote its traditional downtown. Davis restricts development beyond the current urban boundary while at the same time encouraging infill development within the boundary. As a result, Davis is the sixth densest urbanized area in the US and an exemplar of what small cities can achieve with coordinated policies and careful planning.

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THE ACCESS ALMANAC: Painting the Present, Imagining the Future

Richard Willson

I am a transportation researcher and a landscape painter, two activities that couldn’t seem more different. But are they? Transportation models are an abstraction from reality. Painting, even representational painting, requires abstraction from an infinitely complex visual field. Both types of abstraction require decisions about what is in and what is excluded. So perhaps transportation research and painting have more in common than we might think. Furthermore, do transportation paintings provide insights that transportation research excludes?

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