Quality of life is inversely related to per capita vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and quantity of free parking. Per capita VMT and parking reforms correlate with several city objectives in a way that “green” cars or “green” fuels do not. For example, per capita VMT and the quantity of free parking correlate with noise pollution; sprawl; heat island effect; flooding and stormwater runoff; affordable housing; an affordable transportation budget; the health of the local population; the health of local retail and residential; and injuries and deaths due to crashes. Overall, per capita VMT is a good way to measure the overall impact a person has on the community — positively or negatively. Boulder should annually track whether per capita VMT and quantity of free parking is increasing or decreasing, and celebrate declines in these measures.
As noted above, we must be careful to specify per capita VMT for the proposed project, as a general VMT measure would undermine compact development efforts. For example, a more compact development that mixes housing with retail might generate high levels of VMT, but such development is far preferable to a conventional low-density housing development (where nearly all trips would be by car). This is because the compact, mixed development would have a relatively large percentage of non-vehicular trips and a relatively low per capita number of vehicle trips.