Transportation and Urban Form
Organize and zone well-spaced, walkable community centers.
Historically, Utah was planned around a network of communities that spread up and down the Wasatch Front. This pattern of centers brought important destinations close to residents in the pre-automobile age. Building on this network and expanding it to new green field development is critical to shortening and eliminating vehicle trips. Commercial, civic, religious, retail, and educational centers built around existing cores, and planned for future core areas, will bring daily needs within walking distance of most city residents.
Tool: Identify opportunities to develop neighborhoods in which daily needs can be accessed in a 20 minute walk.
Commercial centers can be identified through a community’s master plan. Walkable centers are usually between ¼ and ½ of a mile wide. Smaller commercial centers provide more bicycle and pedestrian access.
- Introduction to “20 minute neighborhoods” http://www.icic.org/connection/blog-entry/blog-the-rise-of-the-20-minute-neighborhood
Tool: Rezone underutilized commercial property in community centers to other uses.
Economic development can be fostered through the rezoning of underutilized commercial property. This capitalizes on market trends of a shift from traditional brick and mortar stores to online retail and warehouses. As store spaces become available, they can be repurposed for other uses, and preserved as economic and social centers for the neighborhoods they serve. This land can be used as a mix of commercial and residential space, reserving some room for schools, churches, and civic sites.
Tool: Minimize the amount of parking required by new development.
Reducing minimum parking requirements frees up both land and money for better uses. The construction, maintenance, and land costs associated with providing free or subsidized parking could be used to fund more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly forms of transportation than driving, like public transportation or the construction of bicycle and pedestrian corridors.
The above graph shows required parking spaces for residences per-occupant, and required parking spaces for office and retail per 1000 square feet of building space.
- Parking requirement legislation, California. California passed legislation in October, 2015, “which allows affordable housing developers to build less parking than many local zoning regulations currently permit.” Affordable housing advocates have long claimed that burdensome parking requirements have made affordable housing too expensive to build. http://cal.streetsblog.org/2015/10/12/governor-brown-signs-bill-loosening-parking-requirements-for-affordable-housing/
- No minimum parking requirement, Arkansas. The City of Fayetteville, Arkansas, adopted a change to the parking code that completely eliminated minimum parking requirements for nonresidential properties. This allows businesses to consider their parking needs based on market demand, rather than city code requirements. http://www.fayettevilleflyer.com/2015/10/07/fayetteville-eliminates-minimum-parking-requirements/
Take advantage of market shift and redevelop over-retailed real estate into higher density, mixed-use housing.
As online retailers become more prevalent, convenient, and popular the demand for certain brick-and-mortar stores will decline, leaving old retail space available for redevelopment.
Tool: Adopt a form-based code in appropriate locations and centers.
Form-based codes can provide development and permitting incentives that make the code more attractive than current development standards. Focusing on the physical forms of buildings and development rather than on separating land uses, a form-based code encourages compact, mixed-use development, which results in more biking and walking opportunities.
This illustration from Mackenzie Meadows, British Columbia shows a visualization of what a form based code plan might look like.
- Form-Based Codes Institute website http://formbasedcodes.org/
- Center for Applied Transect Studies website http://transect.org/codes.html
Tool: Designate pedestrian-oriented overlay districts.
Pedestrian zones encourage the development of pedestrian friendly commercial districts. Residents should be able to access services without an automobile or with fewer automobile trips. Districts require commercial uses at the ground floor that cater to pedestrians. Districts also have lower parking requirements, limited driveways, and encourage new development that gives priority to pedestrian friendly streetscapes.
- Pedestrian overlay zones in the Seattle Land Use Code http://www.seattle.gov/Transportation/pedestrian_masterplan/pedestrian_toolbox/tools_pluz_zoning.htm
Tool: Allow accessory dwelling units in all residential zones.
Accessory dwelling units are often referred to as backyard cottages, mother-in-law apartments, or separate upstairs/basement apartments. They are often rented out and provide alternatives to the development of new housing by increasing affordable housing options while creating density in existing neighborhoods.
- Introduction to Accessory Dwelling Units https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjkCG9oDrKM
- AARP Accessory Dwelling Units: Model State Act and Local Ordinance http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/consume/d17158_dwell.pdf
Encourage higher density and transit-oriented development, smaller block sizes, and higher density of intersections.
People are more likely to use active and public transportation if there are small blocks, a high number of street intersections, and high residential densities. These improvements to the urban environment would influence travel behavior and result in reduced emissions from vehicles by reducing trip distances and frequency.
Tool: Designate transit-oriented development zones in appropriate locations.
Transit-oriented developments (TOD) encourage moderate and high density housing near a transit site. TODs create an environment that is conducive to walking, biking and using public transit. TODs see reduced traffic congestion and accidents and expanded mobility of cyclists and pedestrians.
- Introduction to Transit-oriented developments http://www.reconnectingamerica.org/what-we-do/what-is-tod/
Tool: Consider requiring a maximum block length of 400’.
Requiring new developments to have block sizes below 400’ increases the pedestrian connectivity and allows for more mobility for cyclists and pedestrians. Traffic capacity also increases within communities as street networks become more connected. Large block sizes do not facilitate active transportation.
- Measuring Network Connectivity for Bicycling and Walking http://reconnectingamerica.org/assets/Uploads/TRB2004-001550.pdf
Tool: Require mid-block crossings on longer blocks.
Midblock crossings allow people to travel to places that are otherwise not served by the existing pedestrian network. If formal crossings are too far apart, pedestrians are more likely to cross the street illegally, rather than walk to the next intersection. Mid-block crossings increase the comfort and safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.
- National Association of City Transportation Officials Urban Street Design Guide:
Tool: Require a connectivity index for new streets.
A Connectivity Index can be used to quantify how well a roadway network connects destinations. Indices can be measured separately for motorized and non-motorized travel, taking into account non-motorized shortcuts, such as paths that connect cul-de-sacs, and barriers such as highways and roads that lack sidewalks. Several different methods can be used.
- Roadway Connectivity from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute http://www.vtpi.org/tdm/tdm116.htm
Improve transit ridership through increased accessibility.
Many people support public transit, but ridership levels depend primarily on the convenience of using transit compared to the convenience of driving a private vehicle. More people will use public transit as it becomes more convenient for them to do so. Making public transit more accessible for people who live and work in Provo will help clear our air.
Tool: Prioritize bicycle and pedestrian routes near and around transit stops.
Bicycle and pedestrian routes near transit stops help solve “first and last mile” challenges.
- Report on integrating biking and walking with transit and federal transit funds that can support such programs. http://www.advocacyadvance.org/docs/FirstMileLastMile_August2014_web.pdf
Tool: Conduct a feasibility study to determine the best starting point for implementing a bike share system in Provo.
Bike share systems can be a powerful tool in improving first mile and last mile connectivity of transit trips. In less dense areas bike share has shown to expand the reach of transit, while in denser areas bike share has actually replaced some transit trips.
- Greenbike, Salt Lake City. Greenbike 2014 Annual Report
Tool: Work with UTA for 15-minute trip intervals and protected, well-marked stations.
Decreasing wait times for transit passengers and increasing transit’s frequency of service shows a commitment to helping clear our air by reducing private vehicle use.
Create a connected, complete, and safe bicycle and pedestrian system.
One of the most important reasons commuters do not use active transportation to get to work or school is because they feel it is unsafe, and the sidewalk and bike lane networks are not continuous or well-maintained. It is important to develop complete alternative transportation networks in order for them to be useful and used by commuters. These networks should emphasize navigational simplicity and connect key neighborhoods, destinations, and transit.
These are several examples of connected urban environments from Allan Jacobs’ Great Streets. A denser urban fabric—meaning more connected streets and smaller blocks—leads to more street-level activity and more opportunities to replace automobile trips with other trips.
Tool: Adopt a “Complete Streets” policy. Work with UDOT to do the same on state roads.
A “Complete Streets” approach to road design is one which prioritizes safe access for all users, ages, and abilities. Complete streets policies direct transportation planners and engineers to consistently design streets with all users in mind (drivers, transit riders, pedestrians, bicyclists, the elderly, children, and people with disabilities).
- Introduction to the National Complete Streets Coalition http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/complete-streets
- Complete Streets Local Policy Workbook: http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/documents/cs-local-policy-workbook.pdf
- Bicycle Count, Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City adopted a Complete Streets ordinance in 2010.[vii] The City’s second annual bicycle count reveals exciting results. After investing in approximately 50 lane miles of on-street bicycle facilities, the number of people riding bikes is up 27% over last year’s count. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705393573/Bike-count-shows-jump-in-cyclists.html
Tool: Develop a comprehensive and context-sensitive Urban Street Design Guide that addresses safe crossings, intersections and linear treatments.
State and local roadway design manuals typically focus on the automobile. Revised roadway design guides that focus on accommodating bicyclists and pedestrians can dramatically improve what can be built.
The NACTO Street Design Guide is a general set of guidelines that cities can adapt to their specific streets and situations to create more pleasant street environments that foster all forms of transportation.
- NACTO Urban Street Design Guide: http://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/
- Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada: http://www.rtcsnv.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/03-14-13-rtc-Item-26-Complete-Streets-Design-Guidelines.pdf
Tool: Develop bicycle parking requirements including long-term bike parking.
Bicycle parking minimizes the hassle and inconvenience of searching for a secure and safe place to lock one’s bicycle when arriving at one’s destination. By eliminating inconvenience and barriers, bicycle parking can help elevate bicycling in Provo to become a legitimate and viable transportation option for most trips. Thorough bicycle parking requirements account for both short-term and long-term parking, promote proper siting and layout, and allow for the conversion of vehicular parking to bicycle parking.
- The Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals Bicycling Parking Guidelines: http://www.apbp.org/?page=publications
- Bicycle Parking Requirements, Salt Lake City.
- Bicycle Parking Ordinance, San Francisco.
Tool: Require or promote end of trip facilities (such as changing rooms or showers) for bicyclists and pedestrians at individual employers or at shared locations in dense employment areas.
Commuters who bicycle or walk to work can often arrive wet, muddy or sweaty. In order to make walking or cycling to work viable for many employees, showers and changing facilities (either on-site or close to work) are a necessary amenity.
- LEED Requirements for Showers and Changing Facilities. Many LEED certifications including LEED BD+C, LEED ND, and LEED CI include requirements for showers and changing facilities.
- Indy Bike Hub, Indianapolis. The Indy Bike Hub is a partnership between the City of Indianapolis, the YMCA, and Bicycle Garage Indy (a local bike shop). Situated on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, the Bike Hub provides an ideal location for downtown employees to shower, change and store their bicycles. Other amenities such as a full service bike shop and exercise gym are also present on-site.
Tool: Establish a connectivity retrofit plan to address existing developments.
Creating a connection can provide access to many parts of the pedestrian system that would otherwise not be linked. Creating direct routes promotes biking and walking while it decreases emergency response time and garbage collection costs. This should include pedestrian and bicycle access through cul-de-sacs.
Tool: Require a physical separation between the sidewalk and street such as park strip, on-street parking or paved tree grate area.
Streetscape requirements that provide physical separation between pedestrians, cyclists, and automobiles create a safer, more walkable environment. Street trees provide shade and separation from automobiles and help to calm traffic. On-street parking and parked cars provide a buffer for cyclists and pedestrians.
- NACTO Urban Street Design Guide: http://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/
Tool: Maintain an up-to-date bicycle and pedestrian master plan to coordinate connectivity of trails, bikeways and pedestrian facilities.
Maintaining an up-to-date master plan helps to ensure pedestrian friendly policies and design within future development. Updating the City’s master plan allows us to build on past successes while developing a future guide for new visions and policies. Provo currently has a Bicycle Master Plan which was adopted in September of 2013. Provo city should also consider developing a Pedestrian Master Plan to complement the existing Bicycle Master Plan.
- Utah Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan Design Guide
Tool: Provide lighting along streets, trails and public spaces to promote safety.
The use of appropriate lighting along sidewalks, crosswalks and public spaces creates a safer and more comfortable environment for cyclists and pedestrians. People are encouraged to bike and walk more when they feel safe, especially at night. Lighting requirements should also minimize light pollution.
- Seattle Pedestrian Lighting Citywide Plan
Tool: Require pedestrian connectivity through the end of cul-de-sacs.
Cul-de-sacs often force people to take an unnecessarily long route to their destination because there is no direct access through the end of a cul-de-sac. For example, a child’s school may be within 100 yards of their home (as the crow flies), but instead of walking to school, they are driven half a mile in a car because their street is a dead-end – forcing the child’s parents to follow a winding, inefficient route to the school.
- Cul-de-sac connections, California. Davis, California, requires that cul-de-sacs connect bicycle/pedestrian corridors. “Davis streets shall be connected with multiple route options for bike and pedestrian travel in new and developed areas. Cul-de-sacs are allowed provided they connect to bicycle/pedestrian corridors.” (from the Davis General Plan) http://cityofdavis.org/home/showdocument?id=4809
Tool: Develop a comprehensive wayfinding system for bicyclists and pedestrians.
New signage engages pedestrians and provides the same navigational system that is used for vehicle traffic on freeways. This would not only encourage people to use active transportation by facilitating pathfinding, but also make visitors more comfortable and make foot and bike traffic feel as important and viable as vehicular traffic.
Provo has had a wayfinding initiative in development for several years.
- Legible London wayfinding system, England. http://content.tfl.gov.uk/legible-london-evaluation-summary.pdf
Tool: Develop mapping and resources that assist bicyclists and pedestrians in route planning.
Mapping and information regarding safe routes, major destinations, bike parking, and other information can help bicyclists and pedestrians become more comfortable navigating the city.
Ensure that active transportation is measured and appropriately valued within overall transportation planning metrics.
Accounting for active transportation in transportation planning is a prerequisite to achieving goals of increasing active transportation.
Tool: Develop an annual report describing active transportation metrics.
Tracking significant active transportation criteria including commute to work mode share, funds invested in facilities and programs, number of miles of facilities constructed, and collision and health data can help communities understand the benefits of bicycling and walking.
- San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. https://www.sfbike.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Annual-Report-2013-web.pdf
Tool: Develop a comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian counting methodology to track progress and quantify benefits.
Counting methodology can help secure more bicycling and walking amenities and prioritize infrastructure improvements. Counts can observe the behavior of cyclists and pedestrians.
- Manual Count Program in Seattle, Washington http://www.downtownseattle.com/resources/pedestrian-counts/
- Automatic Count Program in Arlington County, Virginia http://departments.arlingtonva.us/des/
Tool: Use metrics beyond vehicular level of service (LOS) to assess new roadway projects.
Tools such as multi-modal level of service (MMLOS), bicycle level of service (BLOS) or pedestrian level of service (PLOS) can be used to track the success of new roadway projects.
Tool: Develop safe walking and bicycling routes to school for children.
Partner schools with the Transportation Department to develop safe routes for children to use to bike and walk to school, developing additional bike lanes and sidewalks with monitored crosswalks.
- Safe Routes to School National Partnership report on promoting active transportation http://www.saferoutespartnership.org/sites/default/files/pdf/The_Final_Active_Primer.pdf
Reconsider parking requirements in order to promote alternative forms transportation.
Tool: Allow parking pricing to represent true costs.
“Free” parking encourages excessive driving, which pollutes our air and ends up costing us money in healthcare and lost productivity. UCLA Urban Planning Professor Donald C. Shoup estimates that the value of the free-parking subsidy to cars was at least $127 billion in the U.S. in 2002.[xii]
- “Free Parking Comes at a Price”, Tyler Cowen, The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/business/economy/15view.html?_r=0
Develop stronger anti-idling messaging/signage, or even bans in problem areas.
Areas like drive-thrus, schools drop-off zones, truck stops, etc. are especially susceptible to emission spikes from idling. Stronger anti-idling messaging can help reduce emissions.
- Anti-idling laws, Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City currently has anti-idling laws, stating that it is illegal to idle a vehicle within city limits. In Utah, the Idle Free campaign has partnered with 65 schools that now have signage to remind parents and visitors to turn their engines off. Since 2010, when Governor Gary R. Herbert declared September Idle Free Awareness Month, over 35 mayors and 300 schools have joined the effort to be Idle Free. Individuals can pick up free window stickers to spread the message about Idle Free Utah, and organizations can also pick up signs to be put outside in their parking lots to mark idle free zones. http://utahcleancities.org/idlefree-utah
Other Community Development Tools
Press the state to implement the most current building code standards; implement higher standards locally with state approval.
Legislation in favor of energy efficient buildings would reduce the supply of buildings that negatively impact our air quality.
Tool: Require installation of high efficiency, low emissions appliances
There is a notable difference, for example, between the output of a low NOx water heater and an ultra-low NOx water heater. Although ultra-low NOx water heaters tend to be less energy efficient, various design techniques can be used to increase the water heater efficiency to meet the Energy Star criteria (2013 California Building Energy Efficiency Standards, p. 14). Most Ultra-low NOx water heaters cost about $70 more than low NOx water heaters, and Energy Star rated models are $150 more.
- Legislation for low NOx water heaters, Texas. https://www.tceq.texas.gov/assets/public/legal/rules/hist_rules/Complete.04s/04076117/04076117_ado_clean.pdf
- Commercial Building Disclosure (CBD) Program, Australia. The CBD Program established in Australia “requires energy efficiency information to be provided in most cases when commercial office space of 2000 square meters or more is offered for sale or lease. … An informed market rewards better performing buildings. It creates a strong market-based incentive for owners to improve their properties with cost-effective energy efficient upgrades that are attractive to buyers and tenants and increase return on investment.” http://cbd.gov.au/overview-of-the-program/what-is-cbd#Q3
Promote urban forestry and gardening on city lands, and in neighborhoods.
Plants naturally filter our air and provide us with oxygen. They also provide additional benefits of beautifying neighborhoods, improving walkability, and providing shade to offset summer cooling costs.
Tool: Encourage green roofs
Green roofs insulate buildings, help absorb some emissions, and add to the visual interest and beauty of urban areas. This reduces building heating and cooling costs, while reducing emissions, and also filtering storm water runoff.
- Green roofs, Toronto, Canada. The city’s Green Roof Bylaw requires green roofs on commercial, institutional, and many residential buildings. http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=3a7a036318061410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD
Tool: Form an organization to increase the number of trees in Provo.
An organization whose purpose is to increase the number of trees in Provo’s urban forest can help individuals and neighborhoods access funding for purchasing trees.
- Street trees clean the air, increase property values, and make neighborhoods more walkable.
- Friends of the Urban Forest, San Francisco. Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) is a non-profit that provides trees, technical expertise, and labor for neighborhoods and individuals interested in planting street trees. Since 1981, FUF has planted 47% of San Francisco’s total street tree canopy.
Promote the use of alternative fuel sources.
The availability of alternative fuel sources in our cities is one of the largest factors determining their success. Electric vehicle charging stations, CNG stations, and other alternative fueling stations situated throughout the city ensures that these lower-emission alternatives to gasoline are used.
Tool: Improve network of charging stations.
In recent years, electric vehicle sales have jumped tremendously. In 2014, approximately 119,710 electric vehicles were sold in the United States, representing a 23% increase from 2013 and a 128% from 2012.[xiii] Although electric vehicle sales represented less than one percent of car sales in 2014, in just a few years their availability, reliability, and affordability has greatly increased and these trends will likely continue.
- Charging station at local business, Salt Lake City. Utah Paperbox (UPB) installed five electric vehicle charging stations. UPB partnered with Utah Clean Cities and received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to support the station installation.
- Public-Private Partnership to install charging stations, California. Pacific Gas and Electric has been approved to build 25,000 EV charging stations in California to help the state reach its mandate to reduce emissions by 80% below 1990s levels by 2050. http://www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/newsdetails/index.page%3Ftitle%3D20150209_pge_proposes_major_build-out_of_electric_vehicle_charging_stations
Tool: Improve the network of alternative fuels available (CNG, EV).
Expanding the infrastructure for alternative fuels makes them more feasible alternatives for gasoline and diesel. Accessibility should be promoted in city planning initiatives.
- Alternative Fueling Station Counts by State http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/stations_counts.html
- Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Expansion report from the U.S. Department of Energy http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/55640.pdf
Develop a Community Development Sustainability Plan with an emphasis on air.
The Community Development Department has a key role to play in cleaning our air, and it has expertise how to make an impact. Consider the roles you might fulfill in cleaning the air and develop a departmental plan for sustainability with an emphasis on air quality. Develop a method for tracking and measuring progress, and a process for annual review.
[i] From Plan Melbourne. http://www.planmelbourne.vic.gov.au/Plan-Melbourne
[ii] Data from ITE’s Parking Generation, 3rd Edition 2004. Courtesy of Ted Knowlton, Wasatch Front Regional Council
[iii] From Better Cities. http://bettercities.net/news-opinion/blogs/howard-blackson/19820/value-visual
[iv] Image from Reconnecting America. https://www.flickr.com/photos/ractod/3953863528
[v] From NACTO Street Design Guide. http://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/intersection-design-elements/crosswalks-and-crossings/midblock-crosswalks
[vi] Image from Allan Jacobs’ Great Streets.
[viii] From NACTO Street Design Guide. http://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/streets/neighborhood-main-street/
[ix] From NACTO Street Design Guide. http://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/street-design-elements/sidewalks/
[x] From Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.
[xi] From Mayor Curtis’ website. http://provomayor.com/2013/05/07/way-finding-signs/