New data show how a well-designed transit corridor has reduced traffic and encouraged walking rather than driving
New data from Arlington County, Virginia, provide an in-depth look at how a jurisdiction known for great planning has leveraged excellent transit service and transit-oriented development into efficient transportation performance.
Arlington, just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C., is often cited for good reason as a smart growth success story: I reported on the inner suburb back in 2008, in a two-part series (here and here) noting how Arlington had added over 24,000 homes and 17 million square feet of office and retail space with little discernible effect on automobile traffic. (More recent reports put the latter number at closer to 25 million square feet.) This was done primarily by concentrating growth in corridors well-served by transit, while leaving intact the county's beautiful neighborhoods of single-family homes.
The story can now be updated. Writing in The Washington Post, Robert Thomson reports that planners have been collecting and analyzing data to discern how people move, not just how vehicles do, and looking at all trips, not just commuting. He cites a number of findings from a new travel-habits study conducted for the county by LDA Consulting, including these:
- 22 percent of Arlington households do not own a car, compared with 16 percent for the metro region as a whole;
- Only 40 percent of daily trips are made by driving alone;
- 16 percent of all trips, and 23 percent of in-county trips, are made on foot;
- "Arlington residents make more total trips per day than the regional average -- 3.9 versus 3.5 -- but they travel fewer miles per day than the regional average, because their trips are shorter: 15.8 miles versus 25.6 miles." (This is my personal favorite statistic, because it illustrates the power of regional accessibility, or Arlington's relatively central location within the metro area as a whole.)