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Creating Livable Communities

Chapter 3: Alternative Improvement Strategies

Key Strategies for Addressing Livability Objectives in Alternative Strategies

  • Use livability indicators to create multimodal alternatives that achieve multiple community benefits.
  • Develop integrated land use and transportation alternatives that include all modes and support the surrounding community character.
  • Analyze the links and interactions among street networks, land use, transit, bicycle travel, pedestrians, and freight.
  • Allow land use and development to be variable when developing alternatives.

Travel-Time Budget

"The time we spend traveling each day for work, shopping, going to school, or recreating depends on many factors and varies by individual and location. Yet research shows that, on average, people around the world spend about five percent, or somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes, of their day traveling. These are global trends that have not changed much in the last several decades."

Excerpt from Schäfer, Andreas. "Long-Term Trends in Global Passenger Mobility," The Bridge. National Academies of Sciences. Vol. 36, No. 4, Winter 2006.

What are our major transportation objectives? What is the range of strategies we should consider to achieve those objectives? How might those objectives support other community livability goals? In many communities, a common transportation objective is to "reduce time spent traveling so people can spend more time doing other things." Addressing this objective can lead to a range of strategies that have different impacts on the physical character of the community, the cost of travel, and the environment. For example, how might strategies to improve travel speed within a corridor support or detract from livability goals to value existing neighborhoods? How might strategies to reduce travel distance (e.g. locate more destinations closer together) influence community character and the attractiveness of walking, biking or transit? Are there some corridors where increasing the speed or reliability of travel can create opportunities for diverting trucks off of local streets where slower speeds and pedestrian activity is most desired? Would a community accept slightly longer travel times if it meant expanding transportation choices with new transit options or creating safer pedestrian crossings?

A key livability principle focuses on expanding transportation choices. This typically means making it convenient for people to meet some or all of their daily travel needs without having to drive. This goal requires the development and evaluation of different multimodal transportation improvement strategies at the regional or corridor level. To do this effectively, the multimodal alternatives should identify capital, management and operations (M&O), or programmatic projects for complete streets, transit, biking, walking, and travel demand management (TDM). They should simultaneously consider the full range of complementary land use and urban design approaches to make these modes a desirable alternative to driving.

During the alternatives phase, planners should use technical approaches that include planning-level analysis to quantify and evaluate different multimodal transportation strategies against livability indicators. This could mean designing specific alternatives that address travel time savings, while reducing combined housing and transportation costs, or helping to reinvest in existing neighborhoods. These alternatives should include the full range of multimodal strategies at the project, corridor, and system-wide scale. The table on the following page provides examples of multimodal strategies associated with different alternative objectives.

Alternative Objective Example Strategies
System Corridor Project
Planning, design and construction to support all users Develop of system level alternatives that identify specific corridors and centers with multimodal emphasis Evaluate different multimodal alternatives (e.g. transit modes or bicycle facilities) at the corridor scale Incorporate complete streets design standards in areas within walking distance of schools or transit stations/stops
Supporting healthy lifestyles Develop a system-wide master plan for non-motorized networks Promote jobs-housing balance in mixed use centers along transit corridors Implement intersection improvements to aid in safe pedestrian crossing such as timed signals
Intermodal accessibility Identify system-wide intermodal hubs where walking, biking, transit, air or waterway passenger movements overlap Coordinate intermodal station locations along corridors to complement travel patterns and surrounding land uses Develop detailed intermodal station area plans to enhance ease of transfer between different modes
Linking freight and goods movement with economic development and neighborhood livability Identify freight areas, livability areas and areas of conflicting overlap; system-wide strategies to support each and mitigation strategies for overlap Redirect truck traffic to high mobility corridors outside of neighborhoods Implement truck only lanes and signage on select corridors; implement off-peak delivery parking zones and signage
Linking transit to diverse housing choices Assess housing affordability within 1/2 mile of transit stops/stations and develop targets to balance transportation choices Create a transit corridor overlay district that encourages mixed income and mixed product housing Develop transit oriented development plans that accommodate a range of housing options
Targeting transit, walking and biking investments in infill and redevelopment areas Designate system wide priority areas for multimodal investments that correspond with infill/redevelopment zones Incorporate corridor traffic calming strategies in locations that overlap with community redevelopment areas Implement intersection preferential treatments (e.g., leading pedestrian interval at signals) and streetscape projects
Using TDM strategies in concert with multimodal transportation investments Conduct a regional TDM assessment to identify best opportunities for TDM strategies Engage private sector employers located along major transit corridors to encourage ride sharing or transit use Implement designated preferential parking for carpools at employment locations and park and ride lots
Using M&O strategies to increase efficiency for all modes Develop a regional ITS Architecture Identify corridors where a range of strategies such as electronic messaging, real time transit information traffic signal coordination, and similar strategies will be most effective Implement traffic signal coordination system
Enhancing the natural environment Develop regional stormwater management plan incorporating green street strategies Develop a corridor level green streets plan Construct natural system bio-retention swales in concert with other multimodal infrastructure enhancements

Each of the multimodal strategies described in the preceding table has different applications in rural, urban or suburban settings. For example, rural transit considerations might focus more on connecting small towns with large urban areas, distant job centers, airports or intermodal facilities through public or privately funded express coach bus routes. Transit strategies for a suburban arterial corridor may include increasing the frequency of the bus from one hour to thirty minute headways, with plans for increased frequency and enhanced service as more compact mixed use development occurs. Both strategies help expand the attractiveness and accessibility of transportation choices within the community but also reflect the specific community context.

Fully integrated planning as part of multimodal alternatives development requires planners to coordinate transportation planning with other interdisciplinary efforts. Regional and local comprehensive planning to develop plans and policies for housing, economic development, land use, and transportation can provide a platform to address a variety of issues simultaneously with similar technical analysis. Scenarios and alternatives analysis for transportation can be conducted in parallel to, or feed into, the statutory planning requirements for housing, environmental, or economic development plans. Making sure that representatives of each agency are informally involved in scoping, developing, and reviewing each others' plans is an effective way to integrate the resulting strategies and projects. These efforts can include (but are not limited to) concepts such as the following:

These concepts can be represented on maps, with simple photographs or 3-D renderings showing the desired future character of the community and narratives that link these concepts back to community goals. The graphics should help the audience to better understand the relationships between potential multimodal improvements and other community initiatives.

As part of Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning's 2040 regional comprehensive and long range transportation plan, this map illustrates the overlap of regional infill and redevelopment areas and the major transportation routes.  It demonstrates that there is considerable opportunity to locate new development into these areas along existing transportation corridors that radiate out from the center city.

This map illustrates the overlap of regional infill and redevelopment areas (shown in yellow and red) and the major transportation routes as part of Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning's 2040 regional comprehensive and long range transportation plan.

Updated: 01/03/2014
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