Improving Mobility Requires a Multimodal Consideration of Congestion

As urban populations increase and drivers seek to escape crowded commutes, America's urban transit systems are becoming increasingly congested. For TDM professionals to improve mobility for all, they must first change how they conceive of congestion.
September 16, 2013, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The economic impacts of congestion are commonly limited to the lost productivity of drivers stuck on crowded streets and highways. But in cities like D.C., where transportation demand management (TDM) professional Stephen Crim lives, popular mass transit and bike share systems are straining under robust demand, proving that the costs of congestion aren't just limited to highways.

"I stand in crowded buses and Metro cars, jostling around to let fellow passengers on and off, nearly falling over as I try to read a book or edit a report for work," writes Crim. "In order to relieve congestion on all modes, we have to change the way we talk about congestion."

TDM/mobility management is commonly focused on "removing single-occupancy-vehicle (SOV) trips from the road," he notes. But without a better accounting of the extent and costs of transit, bike, and pedestrian congestion, "an efficient, multimodal future" will remain difficult to achieve.   

"Why does this change in measurement matter?" asks Crim. "As the legendary 20th century management consultant Peter Drucker said, 'what gets measured gets managed.' "

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Published on Thursday, September 12, 2013 in Greater Greater Washington
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