Yes, Virginia Interstate 66 is a mess. Commuters are right to decry the congestion along this stretch of interstate, where travel times from Northern Virginia into D.C. are the longest in the region.
But reports from Dr. Gridlock in the Washington Post that the state and federal governments are considering plans to add additional lanes onto I-66 are not only maddening, but they fly in the face of everything we’ve learned about induced demand.
With years of evidence to back it up, induced demand was defined beautifully in a recent story in Wired, which explained that because “increasing the supply of something (like roads) makes people want that thing even more … the ways we traditionally go about trying to mitigate jams are essentially fruitless.”
In other words, it’s impossible to build ourselves out of congestion because the roads themselves cause traffic.
While the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT’s) plan to implement “Active Traffic Demand” along the interstate is a better plan, VDOT’s request for proposals from private corporations indicates that the agency is also considering large, engineering- and infrastructure-intensive solutions to I-66’s problems.
Instead, why not entertain these much cheaper (and probably more reliable) solutions:transportation demand management (TDM) and use of high-occupancy vehicle lanes?
VDOT has been very good at congestion management when it has done big projects. Think back to the Mixing Bowl project, the Wilson Bridge Project, and the Mega Projects. VDOT pours money into transportation management programs (TMPs) that are designed to communicate about the problem and encourage people to share the ride, use transit, or avoid the area at peak times.
Yet at the end of each project, VDOT packs up its bag of tricks and leaves thinking that the job is done. Imagine if the kind of intensive effort VDOT gives as projects unfold were also applied to a corridor day in and day out, year after year. Could results be achieved? I think so. VDOT could spend $5 million to $10 million per year – not a lot for the agency – and do some really sophisticated TDM marketing and incentives.
VDOT could work with employers in D.C., Arlington, and Fairfax. It could promote carpooling and transit. It could provide incentives. It could provide real-time vanpool and commuter bus information. This stuff works. We’ve proven it in Arlington.
One could couple these TDM programs with HOV-3 both ways during the rush and HOV-2 at all other times to ensure that road use on I-66 is maximized. Getting the best use out of the existing facility (demand management) is what VDOT should concentrate on, not continually trying to increase the supply. It doesn’t work.
HOV-3 and TDM will work, will be more cost efficient, and are better long-term solutions for everyone.
Cross posted on http://www.MobilityLab.org on July 3, 2014
Arlington County’s commitment to biking is pretty huge.
And for any other place in the country looking to enhance its bicycling infrastructure and encourage a healthier populace and more vibrant cityscape – including attendees at the upcoming 2014 National Bike Summit on March 3-5 – BikeArlington’s recent Bikeswell movie is a must-see.
Beyond the movie, Arlington’s Capital Improvement Budget is full of new bike infrastructure projects. A few of the major ones include:
- new wayfinding signs
- buffered bike lanes like we just put in between the Court House and Clarendon metro stations along Clarendon Boulevard, and
- green lanes also pioneered here in front of Court House.
We are investing in:
- more bike lanes
- improving multi-use trails
- bike boxes
- hawk beacons, and
- soon rolling out bike boulevards parallel to Columbia Pike and protected bike lanes along Army Navy Drive, Eads Street, and Crystal Drive in Crystal City as well as on Fairfax Drive in Ballston.
There are 67 Capital Bikeshare stations in Arlington and should be at 80 by the end of this June. The plan is to expand by seven to 10 stations per year for the foreseeable future. Planned stations are listed here.
Arlington County is committed to encouraging more people to ride bikes more often through BikeArlington, a county bike program that is second to none in the region.
Lastly, Arlington, as the Bikeswell movie points out, is committed to becoming a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community (it is currently Silver) and to doing everything it can to make it so.
Cross-posted on http://www.MobilityLab.org February 24, 2014
TransportationCamp DC is all about providing technology tools to people so they can make the critical choices of getting from Point A to Point B and beyond.
The convergence this year of hundreds of urbanists, transportation aficionados, and people who work with technology for a living all joined together on the Saturday last month before the Transportation Research Board’s massive annual conference. Read More
Commuters in Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland are lucky to have so many options to get around the area.
But it doesn’t happen without hard work behind the scenes. That’s where events like this Saturday’s 2nd Annual TransportationCamp Washington DC 2013 step in. There will be hundreds of really smart people joining together to generate ideas for making the region – and the country and the world – easier to navigate.
Last year, the camp was an amazing event (check out the brief video above that features one of the attendees), and this year promises to be even better. As part of the Transportation Research Board’s annual conference, there will be a healthy mix of local transportation and technology experts mingled in with folks from around the country.
Just the experience of participating in an “unconference” itself is worth attending.
And definitely take a look at the wiki that one of last year’s participants took the initiative to create. It gets the brain juices flowing ahead of time for what topics could be covered, including things like:
- Social networks and Transport
- Fostering Emotional Connections to Public Transport Agencies
- Computer and Video Games for Transport and Mobility
- Public Transport Apps using Open Data
Some more of the event’s crucial details include:
It will take place this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. before the start of the Transportation Research Board 92nd Annual Meeting, and will be held at Founders Hall on the Arlington campus of George Mason University, 3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22201.
- Founders Hall is located two blocks east of the Virginia Square Metro Station (Orange Line).
- Two Capital Bikeshare stations are also within two blocks, at Virginia Square Metro and at Fairfax Dr/Wilson Blvd.
- Metro bus 38B runs from K St, NW and Georgetown.
Here’s information on parking and a map of the campus.
Please register here, as space is pretty much at capacity. Cost will be $20 for the day (with sponsorships for full-time students available upon request).
There will also be a happy hour afterwards at Spider Kelly’s, two blocks east of George Mason University in nearby Clarendon, in order to continue the creative conversations.
TranspoCamp DC 2013 is sponsored by the George Mason School of Public Policy, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Mobility Lab, Open Plans, the Transportation Research Board, and Young Professionals in Transportation.
And finally, start talking about it now. The Twitter hashtag is #transpo
Video by Kaiman Bros. Media
Cross-posted on http://www.MobilityLab.org January 8, 2013
Cross posted on http://www.MobilityLab.org December 17, 2012
“Mobility management” (Active Transport) is, from a personal perspective, about accessibility. It’s about having travel options that are superior to driving alone.
For an individual, mobility management has a lot of benefits.
You can save a lot of money. Often, you can also save time. You might save on the stress of getting caught in traffic.
There’s a certain amount of interaction with your environment, your neighbors, and your social space that you don’t get when you close yourself into a car every day.
When gas prices spike, The Commuter Store® sees more people visiting, crying “uncle, I’m ready to stop spending so much money on my car commutes.”
Incorporating walking into commuting can make you healthier, and can make everybody else around you healthier who isn’t breathing in the toxic fumes from your car. And you get to know your community better.
Biking or walking to work incorporates exercise into the daily routine rather than having to make room for an hour outside of work or playtime to go to the gym.
Taking work on the train becomes a good use of time while traveling. Read a book. Catch up on the newspaper. Plan the day on the way in. Make notes from the day on the way out.
All these things will make commutes more relaxed when they get home at night, leading to a better quality of life.
Transit commuters in the Washington D.C. region are growing in rapid numbers.
According to new figures recently posted at PlanItMetro, the blog of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), transit’s share of commuters rose from 14.6 percent of commuters in 2000 to 19.4 percent in 2011.
In Arlington County, Virginia – just across the river from downtown D.C. – that share grew from 23.3 percent to 28.4 percent. That’s second in the region only to D.C.’s 39.6 percent share and much higher than the next best jurisdiction, Prince George’s County at 19.5 percent.
Upon further examining the numbers, I noticed that the interesting thing is that the rate of growth over these 11 years was best right here in Arlington. That’s very cool news. And it feels great to know that what we’re doing here works.
Some of those things can be found throughout the Mobility Lab website, and include, to name a few:
- Building the nation’s first bikeshare plan that embeds itself into the overall transit plan
- Holding Hack Days for enthusiastic local technologists to help us build the best real-time transit information possible, and
- One of my favorites: this video that briefly explains how the work Arlington County Commuter Services does takes 45,000 car trips off Arlington’s roads every work day and puts those people into other forms of transportation – forms that keep people traveling in and around Arlington healthier and happier.
While the share of commuters who use transit in the region grew by 13.3 percent over the last 11 years, it grew by 20.4 percent here in Arlington.
Why did transit’s share of commuters grow faster in Arlington than elsewhere? Over the last decade, most of Arlington’s new housing has been located in its transit corridors. And Arlington has invested in new transit capacity (the localART bus service was just a baby in 2000 and is now closing in on 3 million passengers annually) and supporting infrastructure, including a commitment to put map and schedule information at all of ART’s 500 bus stops. But even in the District, new housing is primarily located in transit-friendly neighborhoods and it started the local Circulator bus service in the last decade.
The biggest difference I see between Arlington and its surrounding jurisdictions is in the commitment to outreach and market our options to driving. Outreach programs like:
- The Commuter Store® in five locations
- Services provided to employers like Arlington Transportation Partners that help implement transit benefit programs
- 350-plus retail partners who display neighborhood transit schedules, and
- Direct mail pieces – to every resident – that include transit system maps, how-to-ride-the-bus, and how-to-read-a-schedule information as part of marketing campaigns like Arlington’s Car-Free Diet.
All these programs try to make it easy for people to use transit. All these programs educate people about the options and encourage them to choose transit. They all make a difference. And the numbers showing the rate of growth over the past 11 years prove it.
- Arlington 20.4
- DC 17.6
- Alexandria 16.4
- Montgomery 13.4
- PG 12.4
- Fairfax 10
Cross posted on http://www.MobilityLab.org November 26, 2012
Graphic by WMATA
Featured photo by Elvert Barnes