Strategies for a Resilient Community
Prevent Induced Demand
Across the country, highways have been widened with the promise of reducing congestion only to create more congestion. This phenomenon is referred to as “Induced Demand.” Perhaps the most obvious demonstration of this is Interstate 10 as it passes through Houston, Texas. Known as the Katy Freeway, this stretch of the interstate has been widened to 26 lanes, only to see traffic delays increase with each expansion.
If the intention is to truly alleviate congestion and improve transportation infrastructure, traffic engineers need to explore alternatives to road widening in favor of alternative modes of transportation and smarter engineering strategies; these often include “Wide Nodes and Narrow Roads” approaches with roundabouts as well as multi-modal options including bike lanes and paths that facilitate electrified micro-mobility.
Wide Nodes & Narrow Roads
One surprising solution to reduce congestion in urban and suburban contexts is to adopt a Wide Nodes & Narrow Roads approach. This entails creating large intersections capable of processing more and connected by single or double lane roads. While this solution may seem counterintuitive, it is gaining favor for its effectiveness and relative cost savings. Less road means less initial cost and lower long-term maintenance.
Many municipalities are replacing stoplights with roundabouts because they can be highly efficient at moving cars through intersections. Common throughout Europe, traffic engineers in the United States have been resistant to adopting this practical and validated solution, which not only confers efficiency but also reduces traffic noise and pollution resulting from the constant stopping and accelerating of vehicles. However, that is changing rapidly, thanks in part to municipalities like Carmel, Indiana that has demonstrated the efficiency of roundabouts.
Slide Presentation about Roundabouts
Benefits of Roundabouts
Carmel Indiana roundabouts
Multimodal Transportation & Complete Streets
Transportation and land use patterns are inextricably linked. Transportation facilities and networks have the power to shape development, influence property values, and determine a neighborhood’s character and quality of life.
Integrated transportation and land use planning give people more choices for getting around their town and their region. Integrated networks of public transportation with bikable and walkable routes makes it easier to incorporate physical activity into daily routines, reduces transportation costs, and gives more freedom and mobility to low-income individuals, senior citizens, disabled persons, and others who cannot or choose not to drive or own a car.
Complete Streets are an important part of integrated transportation, providing places that are more livable and safely navigated by all users, including cars, bicycles, and pedestrians. More about Complete Streets can be found here.
Micromobility involves the use of human or electrically powered individual mobility devices, including bikes, electric bikes, electric scooters, and other emerging technologies. This type of mobility is generally oriented toward short-range use in urban and suburban environments. Creating pathways to destinations (not just for recreation) and integrating micromobility into urban and suburban design provides equitable transportation for youth, seniors, and those with lower incomes while also reducing the costs associated with building and maintain roads. The influence and management of micromobility is continuing to evolve as this new solution gains favor among younger generations and infrastructure is adapted to maximize the benefits of micromobility.
A great way to retrofit streets, calm traffic, and provide more transportation options is to employ a Road Diet. A road diet generally involves taking a multilane street, often with 4 lanes, and pair it down to two lanes with a center turn lane and bike lanes on the outside portion of the road. This method has been successfully employed to reduce traffic accidents while maintaining a high level of service for automotive traffic.
Many cities are built to accommodate cars instead of people, resulting in a lack of sidewalks, crosswalks, or other means of safe and efficient mobility. High-speed limits and the hectic nature of rush hour may be dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. In response, many municipalities have implemented traffic calming solutions in busy downtowns where pedestrian shopping is common; however, the solutions have also found favor in many other civic areas where pedestrians and cyclists interact with busy roads.