The Four Keys to Encouraging More Bicycling, Walking, and Transit Use

As noted previously, the four keys to effectively encourage more cycling, walking and transit use include (1) reducing car Speeds (by reducing design speeds for streets); (2) reducing Space allocated to cars (by removing road travel lanes, adding medians, and reducing car parking supply, for example); (3) reducing Subsidies for motorists (by reducing the amount of free parking, and imposing motorist user fees such as tolls and a VMT tax, for example); and (4) Shortening distances to destinations (via compact, mixed-use development). Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies need to place more emphasis on nudging citizens with sticks such as user fees (which still retains the choice to travel by car, it must be noted), and less emphasis on carrots such as bike parking and sidewalks. While “supply-side” strategies and “green gizmo” technology ideas (such as self-driving cars or electric cars) are seductive at first glance (largely because they are relatively easy to implement politically), they will remain ineffective in meaningfully achieving Boulder objectives.

As an aside, there are important reason why adding new bike lanes, more frequent bus service, or adding new sidewalks are generally not effective in significantly reducing car use. In Boulder, the following factors make car travel quite rational, despite high quality bicycle, walking, and transit facilities:

  • Protection/security from “bad guys.”
  • Comfort (temperature control, protection from weather, music, comfy seat, etc.).
  • Low physical exertion.
  • Speed.
  • Status/ego.
  • Cargo carrying capacity.
  • Ability to carry lots of passengers.
  • Ability to travel long distances — particularly at times of your choosing, rather than based on a bus schedule.
  • Free parking for nearly all of your trips.
  • Untolled roads.

Make Bicycling, Walking, and Transit Advantageous Ways to Travel. Even in Boulder, the vast majority of citizens find that driving a car is the most rational way to travel. Boulder needs to strive to make bicycling, walking, and transit use more advantageous than car travel, and addressing the above factors (so that car travel is less advantageous in these categories) is an important way to start doing that.


About Dom Nozzi

Urban designer, Complete Streets instructor, smart growth specialist, town planner, walkable streets and bikeable streets and trails specialist, writer, editor, public speaker, world adventurer, skier, kayaker, SCUBA diver, bicyclist, hiker, dancer, book reader, cook, urbanist.
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