Bike&Place: A New Modeling Tool to Help Planners Help Cyclists

Washington Street, Houston, Mississippi: Streetscape rendering after implementing downtown, trail-oriented growth. Image Courtesy Brian Morton.

You’d like to bike downtown for your job, to go shopping or to attend an event. Those first few blocks near home seem safe enough, but you get a bit worried when traffic gets heavier. It turns out, you’re not alone in how traffic stress affects your willingness to bicycle. CURS researcher Brian J. Morton has developed a tool that will help town planners design more cyclist-friendly networks around signature places in their community.

In a recent study for the Southeastern Transportation Research, Innovation, Development and Education Center (STRIDE), Morton used an open-source software package to create an easy-to-use travel demand model for use by planners working in towns and small cities. Morton’s goal was to build a product that predicts demand for bicycle travel by “interested but concerned” cyclists. Called Bike&Place, Morton’s tool helps planners increase bicycle accessibility.

Roger Geller, bicycle coordinator for Portland, Oregon, created a typology of four kinds of cyclists: strong and fearless; enthused and confident; interested but concerned; and “no way no how.” In a national survey, participants were categorized into those four types in the following percentages: 7 percent; 5 percent; 51 percent; and 37 percent. The 51 percent of “interested but concerned” noted that they “like riding a bicycle…and they would like to ride more. But, they are afraid to ride….Very few of these people regularly ride bicycles… [and they] will not venture out onto the arterials to the major commercial and employment destinations they frequent.…They would ride if they felt safer on the roadways—if cars were slower and less frequent, and if there were more quiet streets with few cars and paths without any cars at all.”

Three small towns in Mississippi were used to develop and test Bike&Place. In Houston, Mississippi (population 3,623), Bike&Place estimates that less than 2 percent of the town’s residential neighborhoods have bicycle access to Courthouse Square, one of the town’s focal points. With an improved network, bicycle access to Courthouse Square could increase to 83 percent.

Morton hopes Bike&Place will make it easier for planners to map traffic stress problem areas and find solutions to make biking less stressful for the large numbers of interested but concerned cyclists and increase the likelihood that they will bike to important community locations. The project report, “Bike&Place: A New Tool for Designing Active, Place-Making Transportation Networks – An Exploratory Study,” provides detailed instructions on how to adapt Bike&Place to other places. For more information on using this tool, contact Morton here.

Editor’s Note: On June 28, 2017, Morton gave a Bike&Place presentation at the 2017 National Regional Transportation Conference in Denver, CO, sponsored by the National Association of Development Organizations

Mind the Gap: Broken Intercity Highways in China

Dr Xingjian LiuThe UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies and the Program on Chinese Cities presents:

A Brown Bag Lunch Seminar by Xingjian Liu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor,
Department of Urban Planning and Design, The University of Hong Kong

Reading Room, New East
Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 12:30-1:45 PM

The success of intercity transport planning between Chinese cities is not always guaranteed, with broken intercity trunk roads (BITRs) as a major case in point. BITRs are highways that are: planned but unfinished; usually disconnected near administrative boundaries; and short in distance, but their completion would greatly improve linkages. BITRs have become a persistent and pervasive phenomenon in China. Aiming to shed more critical light on the issue, Dr. Xingjian explores the geographical distribution of BITRs in China and the relationship between BITRs and the underlying socioeconomic, political and geographical factors.

18中国香港马鞍山T7高速公路项目

How the Reemergence of Manufacturing Can Benefit Historic Small Towns: A Mississippi Case Study

A Regional Land UseTransportation Decision Support Tool for MississippiWhen a new industry comes to town, the financial investment and revitalization that comes with it can be a boon to local economies and residents. But rural regions with deep roots in agriculture and manufacturing may encounter challenges in balancing the character and history of their communities with the development needs of new industry—especially if that new industry is high-tech. The people of Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, where a new Toyota plant recently opened, face such a challenge.

In a report entitled A Regional Land Use-Transportation Decision Support Tool for Mississippi, Brian Morton, CURS Senior Research Associate and principal investigator of the study, outlines two starkly different development futures for the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area. One projects rapid expansion of the towns of Tupelo and New Albany, both near the plant, which eclipse the region’s smaller towns. The second development pattern envisions more even growth among the regions larger towns: Houston, Pontotoc, New Albany, and Tupelo.

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Dr. Rohe Visits China as First Step Toward Establishment of Consortium for Urban and Regional Transportation

June 23, 2015

Bill Rohe (second from right) and Roberto Quercia (right) are presented with calligraphy to honor the emerging collaboration between UNC-CH and BJTU.

Bill Rohe (second from right) and Roberto Quercia (right) are presented with calligraphy to honor the emerging collaboration between UNC-CH and BJTU.

CURS Director Bill Rohe returned yesterday from a whirlwind trip to China during which he presented research in three cities (Beijing, Tianjin and Chongqing) and participated in a signing ceremony expressing the intent to establish a Consortium for Urban and Regional Transportation. The Consortium will bring researchers from Beijing Jiaotong University’s (BJTU) Department of Urban Planning, School of Architecture and Design, and Institute of Urban Planning & Design together with faculty and staff at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC-CH) Department of City and Regional Planning, Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS), and Program on Chinese Cities. Professor Rohe, director of CURS, was joined on the trip by Professor Roberto Quercia, chair of the UNC-CH Department of City and Regional Planning. Professor Yan Song, director of the Program on Chinese Cities, was also a signatory of the letter of intent.

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Multi-state Study Finds Safe Routes to School Programs Work

A large-scale, multi-state study led by Noreen McDonald, CURS faculty fellow and director of the Carolina Transportation Program, finds Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs increase walking and biking to and from school. The study, entitled “Impact of the Safe Routes to School Program on Walking and Bicycling,” was published in the Journal of the American Planning Association. Continue reading