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.