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GreenStep City Best Practices Transportation

Mobility Options
no. 12

Promote active transportation and alternatives to single-occupancy car travel.
benefits  
  • To compete for the types of business we want, we need transit, high-speed broadband, walkable connections between housing, work, shopping and entertainment, and options for active fitness. (Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland, Apple Valley: 2012)
  • The MN Dept. of Health estimates that $495 million was spent in MN during 2000 treating medical conditions that could have been prevented by regular physical activity -- at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week. 60% of adult Minnesotans are overweight or obese and if left unchecked, obesity will add an additional $3.7 billion in health care expenses for Minnesotans by 2020 (Blue Cross/Blue Shield of MN: 2010). See Evaluating Public Transportation Health Benefits (Victoria Transport Policy Institute: 2010).
  • Once a roadway reaches capacity, even a small reduction in car volumes can significantly reduce delays. For example, a 5% reduction in peak-hour traffic volumes on a road at 90% capacity can reduce delay by 20% or more. In 2016 the Met Council calculated that at rush hour, buses move the equivalent of 1.5 lanes of traffic on Interstate 35W. (Notable is that parents driving their children to school are estimated to contribute, on average throughout the U.S., 20%-30% of morning rush hour traffic.) Thus small mode-shifting to transit and walking/biking in congested corridors can provide significant congestion reduction benefits.
  • Mobility options and supportive city infrastructure that allow a household to eliminate one of two cars saves an average of $7,000/yr. which, if applied to a mortgage, could finance $108,000 in home improvements (assuming a 30-yr. fixed 5% mortgage). Living closer to one's work has similarly large benefits.
  • The trajectory of GHG emissions in Minnesota is more sensitive to the number of miles Minnesotans drive than it is to the amount of electricity they use. See also Greenhouse gas emissions per household in Minnesota cities from household auto use.
  • On average, people are willing to walk up to 3/4 mile to access a transit stop with at least hourly transit service. Studies show that very high levels of walking are facilitated in neighborhoods/mixed use areas with about 20 housing units per acre.
  • In 2004, after decades of steady increases, the total amount of car and truck travel in Minnesota began to decrease, even as population grew. This trend is mirrored in the U.S. , where vehicle miles traveled began to plateau in 2004 and dropped in 2007 for the first time since 1980. Per capita driving followed a similar pattern, with flat-lining growth after 2000 and falling rates since 2005 ( 2008 Brookings Institution report ). The 2010 Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro Area Travel Behavior Inventory Report shows that even though the metro area population grew by more than 200,000 people from 2000 to 2010, residents made fewer trips overall. The only transportation mode that increased in the period was transit. Read AARP's analysis, written by a Minnesotan, of what's driving the trend toward car-free and car-lite living.
  • As of June 2011, 48 employers were participating in eWorkPlace and 4,200 of their employees were teleworking 1-2 days each week. Collectively, these workers eliminated an estimated 150,000 vehicle miles each week on metro area roads. Yearly savings for each Carver County teleworker are estimated at $1,000+ a year in auto expenses and close to $6,500 on office space, parking, and other infrastructure costs.
 
Step 3 recognition minimum for Category A cities
Category A cities are recognized upon completion of at least two actions.

Category B and C cities that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of at least one action.
summary
41% of U.S. auto trips are less than 2 miles, and 28% are less than 1 mile - a healthful, walkable distance for many people much of the year in Minnesota - yet most of these trips are taken by car. Cities - through what they directly administer and in what they influence - can provide more transportation options to their residents, businesses and employees. And how we get around in our cities helps shape the evolving physical form of our cities, which reinforces getting around via different modes.

Other trip modes - walking, biking, transit, ridesharing - deliver and contribute to numerous benefits:

  • improved physical and mental health
  • fewer carbon and toxic emissions
  • reduced dependence on foreign oil
  • decreased health and transportation costs
  • more street activity, resultilng in safer streets
  • improved public transit
  • more people-to-people connections than is facilitated by auto-only travel
  • adaptability, resilience, redundancy, reliability, and robustness in the local transportation system
Transportation options are essential for 40% of Minnesotans who do not have a driver's license, who cannot afford a car, and who are either too young or old or too disabled to drive a car. For example, in 2010, about 70% of transit riders in the most rural parts of Minnesota either did not have a car or a driver’s license. And thinking about access to people, services and products as the goal, as opposed to mobility, puts a focus on web-based communication/commerce options.

This best practice focuses mostly on helping community members modify their travel routines. Several other GreenStep best practices in the transportation and land use categories focus on changing the physical environment of a city in ways that make it easier for individuals to take advantage of the actions in this Mobility Options best practice.

greenstep advisor
Amber Dallman, Bicycle/Pedestrian Section, MN Dept. of Transportation: 651/366-4189, amber.dallman@state.mn.us
connection to state Policy

The MN Dept. of Transportation has, among its legislatively delegated authorities and purposes, the goals of: (1) promoting and increasing bicycling and walking as a percentage of all trips as energy-efficient, nonpolluting, and healthy forms of transportation, and; (2) reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the state's transportation sector.

The Statewide Health Improvement Program ( SHIP ) distributes funding to Community Health Boards and tribal governments across Minnesota to increase active transportation in communities and work sites.