UC Davis Sustainable Transportation Seminar to Host Fall 2010 Webinar: Handy, Lubell, Cervero to Present

October 13, 2010: Encouraging Sustainable Travel, Part II

Introductions by Larry Orcutt, Caltrans Division of Research & Innovation

Presentations & Speakers:

Photo of Susan Handy How Do We Get More People Bicycling? Evidence from the Davis Bicycle Studies
Susan Handy – Sustainable Transportation Center

Communities throughout the US are giving increased priority to bicycling as a mode of transportation. However, it is not clear what factors are most important in promoting bicycling in these communities. A 2006 survey of residents of six small U.S. cities shows that bicycle ownership and use depend on individual characteristics, as well as aspects of the physical environment and the social environment. Critical factors include how much a person enjoys bicycling and how comfortable they are bicycling. In addition, bicycling-oriented people tend to “self-select” bicycling-oriented communities as places to live. Among characteristics of the physical environment, distances to destination are most important. Bicycle infrastructure seems to play an indirect role through its influence on comfort and safety. For the social environment, negative perceptions of other bicyclists seem to be a greater deterrent to bicycling than positive perceptions are an encouragement. These results suggest that to foster bicycling, communities must adopt land use policies that put destinations within bicycling distances of residents and create a safe bicycling environment through investments in infrastructure and other policies. To increase bicycling substantially, communities must also create programs that encourage bicycling by increasing comfort levels and changing the way their residents think about bicycling.

Dr. Susan Handy is a Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy and the Director of the University Transportation Center at the University of California Davis.  Her research interests focus on the relationships between transportation and land use, particularly the impact of land development patterns on travel behavior, and on strategies for reducing automobile dependence.  She is a member of the Committee on Women’s Issues in Transportation and the Committee on Transportation Education of the Transportation Research Board.

Photo of Robert Cervero Are TODs Over-Parked?
Robert Cervero – University of California Transportation Center

Apartments that provide more parking than needed near rail stations, critics argue, drive up the cost of housing, consume valuable land near transit, and impose environmental costs like water pollution from enlarged impervious surfaces. We surveyed multi-family housing near suburban rail stations and asked professional planners about parking ordinances that account for transit. We found that vehicle trip generation rates for some projects were well below ITE standards and that adjacent land uses and proximity to transit matter. Based on this analysis, we recommend parking policies for state and local agencies to consider, particularly in light of climate legislation (AB 32, SB 375).

Robert Cervero works in the area of sustainable transportation policy and planning, focusing on the nexus between urban transportation and land-use systems. Besides his academic and directorship appointments at Berkeley, Professor Cervero is also a faculty affiliate of the Energy and Resources Group, the Institute of Transportation Studies, the Center for a Sustainable California, the Berkeley Center for Future Urban Transport, and the Global Metropolitan Studies Center. His current research is on the intersection of infrastructure, place-making, and economic development as well as urban transformations and their impacts on travel behavior. He is a frequent advisor and consultant on transport projects, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Photo of Mark Lubell City Adoption of Environmentally Sustainable Policies in California’s Central Valley
Mark Lubell – Sustainable Transportation Center

Problem: Sustainability remains “the current object of planning’s fascination,” as Campbell described it in 1996, but it is unclear what causes local governments to adopt environmentally sustainable policies and whether they are effective once adopted. Purpose: The goal of this article is to explain why communities adopt environmentally sustainable policies.

Methods: We develop an environmental policy sustainability index for 100 incorporated cities in California’s Central Valley using a combination of survey and archival data. We then use regression and cluster analyses to test which independent variables expressing three theoretical perspectives (Tiebout’s public goods development model, Peterson’s fiscal capacity model, and Logan and Molotch’s interest group/growth machine model) are best at explaining this index.

Results and conclusions: The results suggest that sustainable policies are more likely to occur in cities with better fiscal health and whose residents are of higher socioeconomic status. These findings raise important questions about the relationship between developed and developing cities that were not raised in previous studies, which focused only on major metropolitan which focused only on major metropolitan areas in the United States.

Takeaway for practice: Our results suggest that small, less-developed cities will need substantial technical, financial, and planning assistance to move toward greater sustainability. Many medium-sized, more developed cities may also need technical assistance, but are otherwise capable of becoming more environmentally sustainable.

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