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Efficient Transportation: A Snapshot of Local Agency Programs and Policies

 


This article is a product of the Institute for Local Government’s California Climate Action Network (CCAN). For more information about CCAN, visit www.ca-ilg.org/climatechange.

 

Transportation is the largest single generator of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — so reducing vehicle miles traveled and idling times are key components in addressing climate change.
 
In spring 2009, the Institute for Local Government’s California Climate Action Network surveyed cities and counties to gather information about activities, policies and programs in five areas related to climate change and reducing GHG emissions: commercial recycling, green building, land use and community design, efficient transportation and civic engagement. This project was conducted in partnership with the California Air Resources Board and California Integrated Waste Management Board.
 
Case stories describing efficient transportation efforts under way in six communities are posted at www.ca-ilg.org/efficienttransportationstories and provide more details. While the information gathered does not reflect all of the efficient transportation programs in California communities, it does provide a snapshot of trends, opportunities, constraints and lessons learned. Case stories describing the four other topics (commercial recycling, green building, civic engagement, and land use and community design,) are posted at www.ca-ilg.org/ClimateLeadershipStories.
 
Key Findings
  • Virtually all cities and counties that responded have goals or processes specifically designed to reduce automobile dependency.
  • Nearly all cities and counties that responded are planning for “complete streets” that accommodate all modes of travel, such as pedestrian, bike, car and public transit along a single thoroughfare.
  • The majority of cities and counties responding have alternative commute programs for agency employees.
  • Many agencies utilize intelligent transportation systems (ITS) that use information and communication technologies to improve traffic management.
  • Many agencies are purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles for their agency fleets.
 
Highlights of Efficient Transportation Policies and Programs
  • Incorporating climate-related policies in a community’s General Plan promotes community design features that reduce auto dependency and increase walkability, such as increasing the connections between streets and improving sidewalks and bike paths.
  • Creative “dial a ride” programs that incorporate flexible route schedules and use small buses to offer residents alternatives to automobile travel are gaining in popularity.
  • Cities are using new downtown development plans that incorporate transit options to enhance residents’ ability to use transit and link to regional transportation networks.
  • New technologies, such as intelligent transportation systems, increase the efficiency of and reduce costs associated with community roadways.
  • Agency-sponsored and -supported alternative commute programs provide incentives for agency employees to use transit, carpools and vanpools, and bike or walk to work.
Opportunities, Constraints and Lessons Learned
  • Using intelligent transportation systems can be less expensive than widening roads.
  • Making participation in alternative commute programs as convenient as possible is a key to success. For example, including guaranteed ride home options for employees who work late or must leave early reduces their perception that they may need to have their car available at work.
  • Efficient transportation depends on land-use policies that provide supportive patterns of land use and infrastructure development.
  • Educating the public and employees about transit options is important. While a local agency cannot dictate behavior changes, improving safety and convenience increases the likelihood that residents will use alternatives to auto travel.
  • Interagency collaboration is important and can reduce costs and improve efficiency.
Details on What Cities and Counties Are Doing
 Visit www.ca-ilg.org/efficienttransportationstories to read detailed examples of what counties and cities are doing to:
  • Undertake projects or adopt policies that address climate change through efficient transportation efforts;
  • Adopt greenhouse gas emission reduction activities in their transportation planning process; and
  • Reduce locally generated greenhouse gas emissions through specific transportation-related policies or programs.
Alternative Fuel Project Focuses on Local Officials’ Questions
The Institute for Local Government’s California Climate Action Network (CCAN) is launching a project to help local officials evaluate their options for “greening” agency fleets by converting to fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles.
With support from the AAA Greenlight Initiative, CCAN will gather information about key questions and issues facing local officials about greening their fleets and provide information to help answer those questions. CCAN will also conduct interviews and prepare case stories about several public agencies that have successfully converted their fleets.
For more information about this project, including opportunities to participate in online discussion forums and to suggest questions that could help local officials make good decisions about greening fleets, visit www.ca-ilg.org/greenfleets.

 Transportation is the largest single generator of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — so reducing vehicle miles traveled and idling times are key components in addressing climate change.

In spring 2009, the Institute for Local Government’s California Climate Action Network surveyed cities and counties to gather information about activities, policies and programs in five areas related to climate change and reducing GHG  emissions: commercial recycling, green building, land use and community design, efficient transportation and civic engagement. This project was conducted in partnership with the California Air Resources Board and California Integrated Waste Management Board.

Case stories describing efficient transportation efforts under way in six  communities are posted at www.ca-ilg.org/efficienttransportationstories and provide more details. While the information gathered does not reflect all of the efficient transportation programs in California communities, it does provide a snapshot of trends, opportunities, constraints and lessons learned. Case stories describing the four other topics (commercial recycling, green building, civic engagement, and land use and community design,) are posted at www.ca-ilg.org/ClimateLeadershipStories.

Key Findings

  • Virtually all cities and counties that responded have goals or processes specifically designed to reduce automobile dependency.
  • Nearly all cities and counties that responded are planning for “complete streets” that accommodate all modes of travel, such as pedestrian, bike, car and public transit along a single thoroughfare.
  • The majority of cities and counties responding have alternative commute programs for agency employees.
  • Many agencies utilize intelligent transportation systems (ITS) that use information and communication technologies to improve traffic management.
  • Many agencies are purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles for their agency fleets.

 

Highlights of Efficient Transportation Policies and Programs

  • Incorporating climate-related policies in a community’s General Plan promotes community design features that reduce auto dependency and increase walkability, such as increasing the connections between streets and improving sidewalks and bike paths.
  • Creative “dial a ride” programs that incorporate flexible route schedules and use small buses to offer residents alternatives to automobile travel are gaining in popularity.
  • Cities are using new downtown development plans that incorporate transit options to enhance residents’ ability to use transit and link to regional transportation networks.
  • New technologies, such as intelligent transportation systems, increase the efficiency of and reduce costs associated with community roadways.
  • Agency-sponsored and -supported alternative commute programs provide incentives for agency employees to use transit, carpools and vanpools, and bike or walk to work.

Opportunities, Constraints and Lessons Learned

  • Using intelligent transportation systems can be less expensive than widening roads.
  • Making participation in alternative commute programs as convenient as possible is a key to success. For example, including guaranteed ride home options for employees who work late or must leave early reduces their perception that they may need to have their car available at work.
  • Efficient transportation depends on land-use policies that provide supportive patterns of land use and infrastructure development.
  • Educating the public and employees about transit options is important. While a local agency cannot dictate behavior changes, improving safety and convenience increases the likelihood that residents will use alternatives to auto travel.
  • Interagency collaboration is important and can reduce costs and improve efficiency.

Details on What Cities and Counties Are Doing

 Visit www.ca-ilg.org/efficienttransportationstories to read detailed examples of what counties and cities are doing to:

  • Undertake projects or adopt policies that address climate change through efficient transportation efforts;
  • Adopt greenhouse gas emission reduction activities in their transportation planning process; and
  • Reduce locally generated greenhouse gas emissions through specific transportation-related policies or programs.

 

Alternative Fuel Project Focuses on Local Officials’ Questions

The Institute for Local Government’s California Climate Action Network (CCAN) is launching a project to help local officials evaluate their options for “greening” agency fleets by converting to fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles.

With support from the AAA Greenlight Initiative, CCAN will gather information about key questions and issues facing local officials about greening their fleets and provide information to help answer those questions. CCAN will also conduct interviews and prepare case stories about several public agencies that have successfully converted their fleets.

For more information about this project, including opportunities to participate in online discussion forums and to suggest questions that could help local officials make good decisions about greening fleets, visit www.ca-ilg.org/greenfleets.