Study: Reduce Traffic with Mixed-Use Development

A new study explores how the built environment influences vehicle miles traveled.

February 27, 2017, 9:00 AM PST

By Elana Eden


Walkable Street

Marques / Shutterstock

New research based in Massachusetts suggests policy action in six areas to reduce driving in the state—none of which include widening roads. 

Instead, researchers at the State Smart Transportation Initiative have identified characteristics of development that factor into vehicle miles traveled:

  1. Land use mix (average distance between homes and the nearest retail establishment)
  2. Household density (households per square mile of land area)
  3. Sidewalk coverage (percentage of road miles with a sidewalk at least 3 feet in width)
  4. Transit access (average distance between homes and the nearest transit stop)
  5. Intersection density (number of intersections per square mile)
  6. Managed parking (block groups with a single-use parking structure within 1 mile scored 1, others scored 0)

"The only policy options expected to reduce 2040 passenger VMT below 2010 levels involved changes to all six variables," writes SSTI's Bill Holloway. "However, policies that adjust only a single variable could also make a significant difference."

The largest impact of any single policy change would come from increasing land use mix, which could reduce VMT by 4.3 percent.

"Siting stores and other destinations within walking distance of where people live is one of the most powerful ways to reduce car traffic," Streetsblog explains.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 in Streetsblog USA

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