O’Connor: We Need to Count People Movement Not Car Movement

In her latest "online chat" Metro Board Chair Pam O’Connor took a shot at transportation planning and how we decide whether or not a street is doing its job.  In response to a question about bus-only lanes, O’Connor channeled her inner transportation reformer and made the case that we make so often here at Streetsblog: Streets are about people, not just cars.

Remember, this is my opinion, not necessarily Metro’s…but one problem
is that current environmental review focuses on the movement of the
single occupant vehicle and "mitigations" to keep those moving often
have a detrimental effect on the movement of transit (much less
pedestrians and bicyclists). We need to analyze proposals not on "level
of service" based on how long a car is delayed, but on the "level of
service" for transit and other modes.

Pam, we couldn’t agree more!  Now what do we have to do to get traffic counts and other studies to prioritize moving people over moving automobiles? 

  • Ubrayj is going to fall off his chair when he reads this.

  • It is hard to type this sideways on the floor, but I will try.

    She must have read my blog or the comment I submitted to the MTA regarding its Long Range Transportation Plan.

    Or we’re both flowing on the same wavelength, because me and Pam have the same hippy chakra energies.


  • and the same penchant for skirt suits

  • elbelz

    For such a decent comment by O’Connor, you could have tried to choose a more flattering, less stretched-out image.

  • There, that’s better.

    I admit to not being the best with images. In my defense, I’ve used the same image every time I’ve done a pull quote from the online chat. I’ll use a different one next time.

  • Sam

    Check out the City of San Francisco traffic impact study guidelines; it includes requirements for transit and pedestrian impact analyses.

    Also, as you are probably aware the Institute of Transportation Engineers produces trip generation rate guidelines for different land uses. Although these tend to be used to estimate vehicle trips only, in many cases one is able to determine person trips as well. Then you can look at census data and other sources to determine the mode split, average vehicle occupancy, and get a better understanding of how all the people move.

    I believe the tools are already in place to do the type of analyses Ms. O’Connor speaks of, the tough part will be standardizing the application in the environmental review and project approval process.

  • I’m the one who asked this question. I was shocked this “chat” had a substantive question and a substantive answer that I found pleasing.

    A simple move in planning from counting vehicles to “moving people” would be transformative.

  • I think the LAST place to look is the ITE.

    The tools that are in place to look at road measurement have altogether too much to do with mode split, vehicle occupancy, trip generation, etc.

    What re-orients a roadway planning regime are measurements like this:

    1. Trends in retail sales tax income;
    2. Crash, injury, and fatality reduction and monitoring;
    3. Social surveys to establish live-ability;
    4. Air pollution reduction and monitoring;
    5. Noise monitoring;
    6. Substituting automobile-based counts of speed and throughput (like Level of Service, Average Daily Trips, and “accessibility”) for people-based counts;
    7. Demographic surveys of street users compared to U.S. Census data.

    People-based counts, I would argue, take an entirely different tack that throughput measurements. I have read asinine guidelines for things like “Pedestrian Level of Service” – I mean, WTF?!

  • Argh. Please disregard the above. I am arguing against myself, and I am a fool.

  • Good question, Dan.

    Back when the City Council held their “all day transportation meeting” on January 29., Ubrayj’s personal councilman Ed Reyes talked about this problem. I believe it’s something the Council agreed to take up again. We ought to push them on that…

  • Sam

    Isn’t the bigger issue how to apply standard means for the suggested types of analyses into the environmental review and project approval process?

    The 7 items mentioned in Ubrayj’s comment are good; can we ask every project to analyze these items on an equal footing?

    These may be better incorporated into the General, Community, Specific, and/or Master Planning processes. Then use these documents to guide project development.

    This is just my opinion.

  • David Pulsipher FTW! Brayj in skirt suits, and AT with the frivolous comments!

  • Alan Fishel

    This is a great start. After all what is the goal, to move people or cars? To top this off the cars must be dealt with once they have reached their destination taking valuable space that could be used for retail or business.

    With a more realistic way of counting and moving people land use and transit and highway funding can be much more efficiently dispersed and used.

    I look forward to being able to get to more places with out having to bring my 5000 lb car to move my 200 lb body and not having to find or pay for a parking place.

    Right-on! lets get more money for rail transportation to more efficiently move people.


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