How Cities Can Better ‘Manage’ Car Dependency … And Reduce It - Streetsblog

The same tool that communities have used for decades to make commutes easier on drivers can be refashioned to reduce reliance on automobiles, a leading planning consultancy argues — and there’s a better blueprint that cities can follow right now.

In a new report from Nelson\Nygaard, transportation planners proposed an overhaul of the conventional “transportation demand management” plan to “manage” their communities’ dependence on single-occupancy vehicles, rather than simply manage peak traffic flow.


Transportation demand management is sometimes used by cities to accomplish driver-focused goals, like cutting congestion at rush hour, but it’s rapidly evolving into an umbrella term that encompasses everything from limited, local strategies, such as workplace bike-to-work challenges, to sweeping and impactful ones, like building great transit systems.


The authors argue, though, that even the most well-intentioned TDM plans don’t usually do enough to change how people get around — and that many are tantamount to “tweaking the operations of streets and highways to accommodate ever more cars.”


That’s particularly true for city residents who aren’t looking for an alternative to a busy five o’clock commute, because they’re already riding the bus to a night shift job across town, long after white-collar motorists have already made their way home on the highway.


“Especially when focused on providing ‘commute options,’ such TDM programs primarily benefit those with steady, conventional forms of employment and traditional, workweek schedules,” the authors wrote. “While such programs can provide significant benefits that advance equity among participants…their focus on people with the option of a drive-alone, rush-hour commute invariably excludes from its benefits the most consistently disenfranchised, under-served populations within our communities.”


To illustrate what a better TDM plan could look like, planners at Nelson\Nygaard built on work they’d done as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge to compile one, super-charged guidance document that other cities could follow.


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