Bring the form back to planning: Using urban form characteristics to improve the predictability of transportation mode choice models

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Virginia Tech

The financial and environmental effects of traffic congestion and automobile-centric air pollution continue to be problems that must be addressed within the United States. In response, travel demand management (TDM) has emerged as a potential way to reduce automobile-based travel in order to minimize these effects. TDM strategies are highly dependent on specific urban form characteristics such as bicycle lanes, sidewalks, or transit facilities. A current gap exists in the analytical tools available to transportation planners when evaluating TDM projects. The standard transportation models do not take into account urban form characteristics in a systematic way. These characteristics play an import role in an individual's selection of walking, bicycling, or transit based travel modes. This gap needs to be filled in order to evaluate TDM projects with the same decision-making rigor that is applied to road expansion projects.

The purpose of this project is to develop an enhanced transportation mode choice model that presents a systematic approach for incorporating urban form characteristics. This approach determines which elements of urban form have the strongest influence on transportation mode choice behavior. This work is being done in conjunction with the Roanoke Valley Allegheny Metropolitan Planning Organization as a way to evaluate the potential of TDM projects in promoting non-automobile forms of travel within the Roanoke region. This approach to developing an enhanced transportation mode choice model is a step forward in address the gap between TDM strategies and the tools needed to evaluate them.

Travel Demand Management, Mode Choice Models, Transportation Planning