Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Conference Highlights, November 13 – 14, Nashville

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the ACT (Association for Commuter Transportation) TDM (Transportation Demand Management) Conference in Nashville.  For those not familiar with TDM principles, they basically involve managing vehicular travel demand through incentives/disincentives as well as shifting travel demand to other modes such as transit, carpooling/vanpooling, bicycling, walking, and telecommuting.    Following are some takeaways from the Conference.

  • The Nashville Civic Design Center, a non-profit whose mission it is to positively influence the city’s built environment and improve the beauty and functionality of the city through public participation, has put forth ten guiding principles as well as a Neighborhood Assessment Toolkit to evaluate new projects or designs in neighborhoods throughout the city. The document can be found here:  https://www.civicdesigncenter.org/projects/neighborhood-assessment-toolkit.2567843.
  • People are deliberately moving to places with a high degree of mobility options.
  • Multiple speakers advanced a strategy of pricing parking – particularly in urban centers where parking spaces are at a premium – as a means to promote public health by encouraging the utilization of other modes of transportation (transit, walking, biking, telecommuting, etc.).
  • According to one presentation, health care (seeing our doctor regularly, etc.) only accounts for 10% of our health status, whereas lifestyle (smoking, nutrition, obesity, and alcohol use) and environment determines 70% (the remaining 20% is determined by biology). Consequently, our environment (the presence of sidewalks, bike paths, bike lanes, etc.) can have a significant impact on our health, as such features can encourage us to walk or bike rather than drive to a destination.
  • Employers and employees can reap rewards for employer involvement with van pools.
    • In Olympia, Washington, employers receive reductions in business and occupancy taxes for their participation. The vanpools boost employee morale and wellness (because employees are not fighting traffic on their way to/from work).
    • Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge vanpool awards white, red, and blue ribbon awards to employers based on activities promoting sustainability.
    • Houston Green Office Challenge is a competition between employers in Houston, TX.
  • Cities and towns need to get smarter about how they think about the use of curb space, which often serves as the boundary between private and public space (the street vs the workplace or living space).
    • Curb space should be evaluated for such uses as bike/scooter use (lanes and bike racks), temporary public use space (perhaps an outdoor seating area at certain times), etc.
    • If a business wishes to promote bicycle commuting and has extra/unused indoor space, such space could be set aside for indoor bike storage and/or showers.
    • For areas with robust transit systems, employers and apartment complexes could include transit status boards in the lobby (or similar) area communicating the location of the next bus, light rail, etc., and the approximate wait time.
    • Increasingly, change/adoption of new public spaces, amenities, etc. in towns and cities are adhering to the following paradigm: A temporary pop-up amenity, followed by a pilot amenity, which is followed by a permanent amenity.  A new bike/scooter lane or public seating area could be examples of this.
    • Digitization enables curbs to be dynamic (used for different uses).
  • If you own/manage a business or serve in a human resources capacity at a corporation, a multi-modal transportation system (carpooling, transit, vanpooling, biking, walking) can benefit you by:
    • Helping you to recruit and retain talent
    • Enhancing health outcomes of your employees, thereby reducing your overall health care costs
    • Enabling your employees to use their time more efficiently

Transportation Construction in the New River Valley

At the Montgomery County chamber’s monthly “Eggs and Issues”, Thomas DiGiulian with the VDOT Salem District spoke to an early morning group about transportation in the New River Valley. While he spoke on a number of topics, it seems timely to share with you readers the status of some higher profile projects happening in the area as students head back to school and we see the last of summer’s lighter schedule.

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