24 May 2010

Boulder Transportation Trend Study

Today's Daily Camera has an incomplete article about a recent study (PDF) about Boulder's transportation trends in relation to policy goals. The article reports:

Boulder residents continue to drive less and ride bicycles and walk more compared to the national average, according to the city's latest "Mode Shifts" study.

But the trend still isn't on track to meet the city's goal of reducing traffic to 1994 levels by 2025.

The ongoing study, which has tracked how thousands of Boulder residents get around since 1990, found that bicycle use has nearly doubled since the early '90s while single-occupancy vehicle trips have decreased 7 percent.

The 2009 Mode Shift study, the eighth edition since the city began tracking travel statistics two decades ago, is based on surveys completed by 1,220 random households in Boulder.

Participants were asked to keep a travel diary that shows where they went and how they got there during a random day during the third week of September.

One of the biggest changes over the past 20 years, according to the study, is the number of people who are commuting to work using bicycles or public transportation.

The number of people using vehicles to get to work, and not carpooling, has declined more than 19 percent. At the same time, bus ridership has increased nearly 6 percent and bicycle travel has shot up almost 13 percent.

The study also shows a stark contrast between how far Boulder-area residents travel on average, compared to the rest of the country.

Boulder residents make shorter trips -- an average of 5.1 miles -- compared to the 9.9 miles that an average U.S. resident travels each time they go somewhere.

Boulder residents also spend less time on the roads, at 17 minutes per trip, compared to the 18.7 minutes that an average U.S. traveler spends.

"I think it reflects a lot of things about the community," said Randall Rutsch, a senior transportation planner for the city.

He said the city is relatively compact, with good access to transit options.

"I think we've got a lot of things in place that try and support that trend" of less reliance on vehicles, he said.

The trend toward more buses, bikes and walking, however, is not moving quickly enough to meet Boulder's goals of reducing single-occupancy trips in vehicles.


  1. "Boulder residents make shorter trips"

    I can relate my experience riding a moped.

    I make more frequent but shorter trips.
    Rather then shop once a week, I shop almost daily. I'm limited to how much I can fit in my backpack.

    I suspect someone who rides a bicycle or takes the bus does the same.

    I also suspect people who are car pooling to work are not stopping to shop 'on the way home' from work.

    One of the first things one has to determine when evaluating solutions to problems is whether the solution ends up just 'squeezing jello' or 'slicing salami'.

  2. "The overall trend in traffic is not reported in the article, and it was not reported in the most recent report."

    Are they "hiding the increase?" Bouldergate?

  3. I went to a university where a grass commons was surrounded by a square concrete walkway. The perfect grid probably looked good on the architectural plans. A dirt X, however, was inscribed in the otherwise perfect grass as foot traffic cut a diagonal and followed the shortest route. It is very hard to make people do something they don't want to do. And the use of force to make them do it is another matter of concern.

  4. My advice to carbon reducers has always been the same. Sell your car. Do it now.

    Make a video for everyone else showing how great public transport is. Highlights would be how you are never late for work, how you always get a seat, and how safe it is for your wife and teenage daughter to wait for a bus in the red light district after dark in winter.

    The reality is that those who squeal loudest about the Co2 fiction will stay in their cars, and those who don't have a choice will be standing in the rain waiting for a bus.

    Better still, donate your salary over the local minimum wage to distressed polar bears, and see how the other half lives.