Driving and the Built Environment Part II

Focus Area

Land Use


Environmental Process







Research Idea Scope

Transportation Research Board’s Special Report 298: Driving and the Built Environment: The Effects of Compact Development on Motorized Travel, Energy Use, and CO2 Emissions recommended specific research on the effects of land use patterns and the form and location of more compact, mixed-use development on vehicle miles traveled (VMT), energy use, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are needed to implement compact development more effectively.
The objective of the research is to provide analysis of the impact of the built environment on driving in order to assist transportation and land use policymakers in decision-making.
This research builds upon and expands from the TRB study. It includes the following key areas in which more research would be productive:

Longitudinal studies to help isolate the effects of different types of development patterns on travel behavior
Studies of how different development patterns and policies (including road pricing, parking pricing, insurance pricing, public transit quality, carsharing availability, etc.) affect travel activity as well as fuel consumption, emissions, and pollution exposure.
Studies of changes in metropolitan areas at finer levels of spatial detail to help inform the needs and opportunities for policy intervention
Careful before-and-after studies of policy interventions to promote more compact, mixed-used development to help determine what works and what does not
Studies of threshold population and employment densities to support rail and bus transit and walking and bicycling, which would update old references and help guide infrastructure investments as well as zoning and land use plans
Studies of changing housing preferences and travel patterns of an aging population, new immigrant groups, and young adults to help determine whether future trends will differ from those of the past.
Develop recommendations for how the results of the above studies can be incorporated into transportation models for better assessing policy and planning decisions.
Related Work
TRB Special Report 298
See also pp.24-25 of TRB Special Report 299: A Transportation Research Program for Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change and Conserving Energy
Urgency/PriorityDraft transportation reauthorization legislation and climate change legislation being considered in Congress would require states and metropolitan planning organizations to set transportation GHG reduction targets and develop strategies to meet these targets. Solid information on the impact of land use strategies on reducing transportation GHGs is crucial to the ability to develop these strategies.

Urgency and Payoff

States and metropolitan planning organizations could use analysis produced by the research in developing transportation plans that include GHG reduction strategies.
EffectivenessThe project would help the transportation sector reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a very important goal as transportation accounts for about a third of U.S. carbon emissions and science indicates that emissions must be reduced substantially to avoid dangerous climate change impacts.

Suggested By

RNS. Sponsoring Committee: A0020T, Special Task Force on Climate Change and Energy Source Info: Special Task Force on Climate Change and Energy January 2010 Workshop